Immigration Myths

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  • Appearing For The Defense Of Arizona's Controversial Immigration Law: Fox News

    ››› ››› ANDY NEWBOLD

    This Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court will decide if portions of Arizona's controversial immigration enforcement law, Senate Bill 1070, are inconsistent with federal law and therefore must be struck down. Fox has taken this opportunity to push misleading talking points about Arizona's immigration enforcement law and to continue to fearmonger about crime in Arizona.

  • Fox & Friends: Fox News' Top Misinformer Of 2011


    Fox News' Fox & Friends made considerable contributions to the field of conservative of misinformation throughout 2011. The efforts of co-hosts Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, and Brian Kilmeade -- as well as their rotating cast of fill-in hosts and Curvy Couch guests -- have made Fox & Friends the top misinformer on Fox News in 2011.

  • Colbert Ridicules Fox Op-Ed Claiming "Anchor Babies" Are Real

    Blog ››› ››› SOLANGE UWIMANA

    On the December 12 edition of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, host Stephen Colbert took a swipe at anti-immigrants who have criticized the American Heritage Dictionary for revising its "anchor baby" entry to reflect the disparaging and offensive nature of that phrase. He went on to mock Bob Dane, a spokesman from designated hate group the Federation for American Immigration Reform, who wrote in a recent op-ed that the "offensive aspect of 'anchor baby' isn't the term itself, but the practice of having children on U.S. soil for the sheer purpose of gaming the system."

    Colbert also exposed the sheer absurdity of the "anchor baby" myth, saying:

    COLBERT: Now that anchor baby has been declared offensive, I hold little hope for my submission, "grappling baby": noun, the all too common occurrence of a pregnant woman in Mexico aiming her birth canal at America to launch her baby over the border so then she can climb in using the umbilical cord.


  • Fox Gives Anti-Immigrants Platform To Attack American Heritage Dictionary

    Blog ››› ››› SOLANGE UWIMANA

    The offensive and disparaging slur "anchor baby" -- a myth anti-immigrant groups are forever warning about -- has never been used as a neutral term. It's a politically charged, derogatory slur favored by those who would delegitimize children born in the United States to non-citizen parents. So when the American Heritage Dictionary released its fifth edition with no indication of the term's true meaning, the editors were harshly criticized for treating the term "as some sort of universal description of children who acquire citizenship at birth."

    A few days later, the dictionary's editors admitted their mistake and revised the term's definition to warn of its vulgarity. Discussing the fact that the term is not only offensive but misleading as well, Steve Kleinedler, executive editor of the American Heritage Dictionary, said:

    This is something that was reiterated by Immigration Impact and this is where certain wording really helps to show that something hinges upon a belief system. Personally, this was not a reaction that we have to fix it because people are angry. We fixed it because we were wrong. And I, as the executive editor, acknowledge the fact that this was an error and I take responsibility for that. And that is also why I am quick to fix it because I believe it needs to be fixed and I stand behind that.

    Now Fox News, which has used "anchor baby" as a legitimate term in the past, seems to be helping anti-immigrant groups wage a behind-the-scenes war on the American Heritage Dictionary.

    Following the dictionary's revision, gave a platform to Bob Dane, a spokesman from designated hate group the Federation for American Immigration Reform, to rail against the change. In a December 9 op-ed, Dane accused Heritage of "capitulat[ing] to a small, but vocal, special interest group that is trying to manipulate the political, legal, cultural and linguistic landscape on behalf of illegal aliens."

    Dane further wrote: "The offensive aspect of 'anchor baby' isn't the term itself, but the practice of having children on U.S. soil for the sheer purpose of gaming the system." He then went on to argue that "it's ok to" use the equally offensive term "illegal alien" -- in fact, the Associated Press has instructed journalists not to use it.

  • Why Is Economist Thomas Sowell Relying On Anti-Immigrant Arguments?

    Blog ››› ››› SOLANGE UWIMANA

    Thomas Sowell, a conservative economist and syndicated columnist from the Hoover Institution, is outraged. Actually, that's an understatement. Sowell is seething, judging from his latest column lashing out at Newt Gingrich and the Republican presidential candidate's comments stressing a "humane" immigration policy. But in a diatribe laden with falsehoods that mimics the tone most often employed by scores of anti-immigrant nativists, Sowell relies on agitprop from that same lobby to broadcast a flawed economic argument against immigration.

    Sowell begins by taking a swipe at Gingrich, slapping down his characterization of a "humane" immigration policy. He then reminds Americans that the supposed "purpose" of "American immigration laws and policies is not to be either humane or inhumane to illegal immigrants." It is "to serve the national interest of this country."

    He explains:

    There is no inherent right to come live in the United States, in disregard of whether the American people want you here. Nor does the passage of time confer any such right retroactively.

    But Sowell's argument of "no inherent right" for immigration is taken verbatim from the anti-immigrant movement. He writes:

    The more doctrinaire libertarians see the benefits of free international trade in goods, and extend the same reasoning to free international movement of people. But goods do not bring a culture with them. Nor do they give birth to other goods to perpetuate that culture.

    Why do people want to come to America in the first place? Because America offers them something that their native countries do not. This country has a culture which has produced a higher standard of living and a freer life than in many other countries.

    When you import people, you import cultures, including cultures that have been far less successful in providing decent lives and decent livelihoods. The American people have a right to decide for themselves whether they want unlimited imports of cultures from other countries.

    At one time, immigrants came to America to become Americans. Today, the apostles of multiculturalism and grievance-mongering have done their best to keep foreigners foreign and, if possible, feeling aggrieved. Our own schools and colleges teach grievances.

    As an economist, it's surprising that Sowell would invoke the argument that immigrants hurt the economy, seeing that study after study continues to prove that immigrants' economic impact is overwhelmingly positive.

  • Serial Health Care Misinformer McCaughey Just Won't Stop Misinforming

    Blog ››› ››› SOLANGE UWIMANA

    Betsy McCaughey has a long history of misinforming on health care. In 2009, she received Media Matters' 2009 "Health Care Misinformer of the Year" award for relentlessly attacking health care reform, spreading falsehoods and distortions through opinion pieces and television appearances at nearly every stage of the debate. She has rarely appeared on television, written an opinion piece, or given a speech that doesn't contain at least one falsehood associated with health care. In her appearance Monday on Neil Cavuto's Fox News show, McCaughey lengthened that streak.

    Aside from her bogus claim that health care reform will have the effect of killing jobs, McCaughey asserted that community health centers "largely" cater to unauthorized immigrants. In her rush to tar the health care reform law as a "spread-the-wealth and buy-the-folks program," she stated of the Obama administration: "They're spending some $11 billion on community organizations that serve illegal immigrants, largely. So this is a spread-the-wealth and buy-the-folks program."

    But unless McCaughey has some insider information to which even community health clinics aren't privy, her claim stretches the boundary of fact.

  • Wash. Times: Obama Immigration Policy "Is A Throwback To 19th Century Marxism"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In a November 7 editorial titled "Occupy America: Obama immigration policy erodes U.S. national identity," The Washington Times wrote that "President Obama is 'fundamentally transforming' the nation with a plan to flood the United States with individuals whose hearts belong to other lands" and that "Mr. Obama's leadership is a throwback to 19th century Marxism." From the Times:

    This isn't your father's America. As promised, President Obama is "fundamentally transforming" the nation with a plan to flood the United States with individuals whose hearts belong to other lands. The message to illegal immigrants is if you can get in and keep out of further trouble, you're welcome to stay. The Land of the Free has become the land of the home-free.


    The United States is the most ethnically and culturally integrated society the world has ever known. One of this country's strengths has always been its heritage as a "melting pot" that welcomes those who want to come to the country, learn its language and partake of the American Dream. In a crass political move, leftists are looking to reward those who ignore the laws with an eventual amnesty designed to swell the Democratic voting ranks. This comes at a great cost to society.

    Far from progressive, Mr. Obama's leadership is a throwback to 19th century Marxism, characterized by the politics of resentment that pits groups against each other - in this case, illegal occupiers against legal Americans. By challenging states attempting to observe immigration laws, the Obama administration hastens the fundamental change that is unmooring the nation from its founding principles. That's not the change voters wanted when they sent Barack to the White House.


    Wash. Times' Hurt: "Illegals Who Had Been Headed For Deportation Will Manage To Sneak In A Few Votes" For Obama

    Wash. Times' Miller: White House Gives "Illegals" A "Free Pass"

    Right-Wing Media Freak Out Over Decision To Deport Convicted Felons

  • Fox Furthers Anti-Immigrant Agenda By Lobbing Softballs To AZ Gov. Brewer

    ››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

    Fox News has provided Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer with softball interviews to promote her book, including calling her a "strong hero" for "many Americans." Fox's promotion of Brewer falls in line with its history of promoting anti-immigrant legislation -- such as the controversial law Brewer signed in Arizona -- and hosting mostly anti-immigrant guests to discuss immigration issues.

  • GM Reportedly The Latest Company To Pull Ads From Anti-Immigrant John & Ken Show

    Blog ››› ››› MELODY JOHNSON

    After losing major advertisers AT&T and Verizon, KFI Los Angeles' John & Ken Show can add one more brick to the pile: General Motors. The auto company reportedly pulled its advertisements from the program following a campaign led by the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) calling for a boycott of the program by its advertisers in response to the disparaging, anti-immigrant vitriol the hosts frequently use on-air.

    According to The Huffington Post, GM issued the following statement on Twitter:

    This was a radio ad buy from a group of dealers, and we quickly asked the ad group to cancel it, which they are doing now.

    The John & Ken Show -- hosted by John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou -- airs from 3 to 7 p.m. on KFI, a Clear Channel network, and reportedly has an audience of 1.2 million listeners.

  • Anti-Immigrant Groups Launch Media Campaign Pitting Immigrants Against Unemployed Americans

    Blog ››› ››› SOLANGE UWIMANA

    On October 18, an ad by NumbersUSA, the anti-immigration group with white nationalist ties run by Roy Beck, aired during CNN's coverage of the Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas. In the ad, NumbersUSA pitted immigrants against Americans, blaming legal immigrants for high unemployment among Americans, especially minorities. It featured a diverse group of people taking turns saying:

    The immigration debate should not be about the color of people's skin, or their country of origin, or their religion, or where their grandparents were born. The debate should be about the numbers. Should Congress give work permits to 1 million new legal immigrants again this year when 20 million Americans of all colors, national origins, and religions are having trouble finding jobs? Immigration, it's about the numbers. The numbers. The numbers. Tell Congress at

    In a post at National Review Online touting the ad, Mark Krikorian asked: "Is the issuance of green cards to more than 1 million legal immigrants per year (plus hundreds of thousands of 'temporary' workers) a good idea when we have 9 percent unemployment?"

    A similar ad by anti-immigration group Californians for Population Stabilization aired during MSNBC's coverage of the September 7 Republican presidential debate. It also blamed immigrants for the fact that millions of Americans "are unable to find a job." This claim is still not true, as we noted at the time. Yet anti-immigrants persist in using it to stoke xenophobic sentiment.

    And that's the message behind this ad campaign.

  • Tancredo: Shred The 14th Amendment

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

    Writing for the Daily Caller, nativist crank Tom Tancredo argues that we're missing the big picture regarding the U.S. government's killing of terrorism suspect -- and U.S. citizen -- Anwar al-Awlaki:

    Lost in this debate is whether al-Awlaki was ever really an American citizen.

    Al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico in 1971. Both of his parents were Yemeni citizens in the United States on student visas. As a child, he moved to Yemen along with his parents. He returned to the U.S. as an adult on a foreign student visa.

    Under the current interpretation of the 14th Amendment, al-Awlaki is considered an American citizen. Section 1 of the amendment opens, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." The operative phrase is "subject to the jurisdiction thereof." During the ratification debates in 1866, Senator Lyman Trumbull, who was the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said that the phrase meant "not owing allegiance to anybody else" and that "partial allegiance if you please, to some other government" is disqualifying. It goes without saying that neither al-Awlaki nor his parents had any allegiance to America.

    Anwar al-Awlaki was born in the United States. His parents were not in the service of a foreign government. Therefore, as laid out in the Constitution, he was an American citizen. Period. Full stop. QED.

    What Tancredo describes as "the current interpretation of the 14th Amendment" is actually the historical interpretation going all the way back to Reconstruction and reaffirmed many times over by the courts. The only people who dissent from this established concept of American citizenship are post-birthers who refuse to give up the ghost regarding President Obama's citizenship, and anti-immigrant bigots (like Tancredo) who deliberately misunderstand the "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" phraseology in order to argue against conferring citizenship on the children of undocumented immigrants.