Following the Obama administration's decision to postpone the deportation of certain undocumented immigrants in order to prioritize "convicted felons" and "public safety threats," right-wing media have reacted by resorting to fearmongering, inflammatory rhetoric, and falsehoods.
Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) leader William Gheen has frequently presented himself as a moderate within the American nativist movement since founding ALIPAC in 2005.
Last May, for example, Gheen yanked ALIPAC's backing of a major rally for Arizona's notorious immigration crackdown law, S.B. 1070, after learning that one of its organizers was linked to racist skinhead groups.
Such anti-extremist posturing has lent Gheen mainstream media credibility. He's been quoted often, nearly two dozen times by mainstream papers in the last six months, according to a Nexis search. Even The New York Times included his comments in a story on border security published August 9.
Earlier this week, however, Gheen appeared to relinquish his mainstream legitimacy in favor of predicting race war and endorsing violence in response to the immigration policies of "Dictator Barack Obama."
As first reported by Right Wing Watch, Gheen argued on the air that the Obama administration is preparing for "conflict with White America" by allowing millions of non-white immigrants into the U.S. to "back them up."
Gheen advocated for "illegal and violent" actions in response.
GHEEN: What Janet Napolitano has spent most of her time doing in the last couple of months has been, one, preparing the new spy network that's available now, the new data-collecting, see everything you do online, beyond the normal terrorist list that they're creating, they're creating a much larger list now of people who might be troublesome here in the country. And putting out videos and propaganda telegraphing what I believe to be a conflict with White America they're preparing for after they get another 10 or 15 million people in the country to back them up.
We're no longer referring to him as President Barack Obama, our national organization has made the decision and made the announcement we now refer to him as Dictator Barack Obama. That's what he is. And basically at this point, if you're looking for a peaceful, political recourse there really isn't one that we can think of, and I'm really not sure what to tell people out there other than I guess they need to make decisions soon to just accept whatever comes next or some type of extra-political activities that I can't really even talk about because they're all illegal and violent.
The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that while open expressions of racial radicalism are new for Gheen, the ALIPAC leader is "no stranger to more more garden-variety bigotry and fear-mongering":
He has accused Mexican immigrants of carrying infectious diseases and plotting to take over the Southwest. In April 2010, he targeted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), claiming that the 56-year-old bachelor is gay and saying he should come out to avoid being blackmailed into working with Democrats on immigration reform. In July 2010, Gheen told revisionist "historian" David Barton that LGBT people secretly want to import undocumented immigrants as a way of "replacing many core Americans and American values," part of an overall "war" against Americans.
In his August 23 Washington Times column, Charles Hurt fearmongered over the Obama administration's new immigration policy prioritizing the deportation of criminals by claiming that "you can bet some of these illegals who had been headed for deportation will manage to sneak in a few votes. Maybe even enough to swing the election." Hurt further compared Obama to a "dictator currying favor by releasing political prisoners just before an 'election.' " From the Times:
The surest sign yet that President Obama will cashier his "hope" and "change" gimmicks from the last campaign in favor of a switchblade and brass knuckles for the next one was the stunning landmark decision he quietly made last week before hightailing it up to Martha's Vineyard for a trip to Luxuryville.
Like a dictator currying favor by releasing political prisoners just before an "election," Mr. Obama decided to reject the repeatedly expressed wishes of Congress and halt deportations of illegal immigrants.
[W]ith all the skeezy Election Day tactics we see with same-day registration and a refusal to require voters to actually prove they are legal residents who should be voting in the election, you can bet some of these illegals who had been headed for deportation will manage to sneak in a few votes.
Maybe even enough to swing the election.
In an August 23 Washington Times op-ed titled, "Obama's immigration shake-up, White House grants amnesty to anyone but convicted felons," Emily Miller wrote:
President Obama is using his executive authority to grant backdoor amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. In a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the administration's immigration-enforcement efforts would ignore "low-priority cases." That means most criminal aliens can stay, and only convicted felons will get the boot.
This new case-by-case-basis interpretation of immigration laws will give illegals a work permit to stick around in the United States, taking jobs away from the 9.1 percent of Americans looking for work. Congressional Democrats, who couldn't get their laissez-faire immigration bill passed last year, applauded the White House move.
Basically, it's a free pass as long as you don't get convicted of a serious crime.
Mr. Obama might as well stand at the border with a sign saying, "Come on in. Do whatever you want, just don't get caught."
On Monday's edition of America Live, Megyn Kelly hosted Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin to discuss the Obama administration's decision to prioritize the removal of undocumented immigrants who pose a threat to public safety. Malkin -- who has said she agrees that Mexican immigrants in the United States are "part of a plan" by the Mexican government "to bring back territory to Mexico" -- was "not happy" about the administration's plan, to say the least.
Throughout the segment, Malkin's speech was a strident echo of anti-immigrant talking points and inflammatory language smearing immigrants. She claimed the administration's decision was made to "appease" the "left-wing, open-borders lobby" and that it amounted to passing the DREAM Act "through administrative fiat." Malkin, who is no friend of the legislation that provides certain undocumented students and armed services members a path to citizenship, referred to the proposed act as an "illegal alien student bailout."
Dismissing NDN's Kristian Ramos' contention that the plan is "smart policy" that throws limited law enforcement resources behind deporting criminals while cutting detainment costs, Malkin replied:
MALKIN: It sounds like good rhetoric and they certainly have tested these talking points and tried to appeal to pragmatists, but I've studied and reported and investigated the deportation system over the last 20 years and it is not the case that we're deporting hardened criminals. That's the problem, is that the system is such a wreck that they're unable to be able to tell who's here as a true potential danger to the country and who's not.
That indeed was the bulk of Malkin's substantive argument: that she knows better. She also had a message for those who are here unlawfully: "You do not belong here."
When Ramos tried to make the point that Obama's decision "is designed to do exactly what Michelle is saying that has always been a problem" and that it addresses a "resource issue," he was cut off by Kelly, who moderated the discussion as if Malkin's points were beyond dispute.
Fox News' supposed "straight news" division pushed the theory that President Obama may have committed an impeachable offense by pursuing a new immigration policy, which instructs law enforcement personnel to use prosecutorial discretion to postpone deportation proceedings of certain undocumented workers in order to prioritize the removal of convicted criminals. In fact, the Bush administration used prosecutorial discretion to stop the deportation of certain categories of undocumented immigrants as well.
From the August 19 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Conservative blogs have responded to the Obama administration's announcement of a new immigration policy by claiming that the president is "cancel[ing]" or "end[ing]" deportation of undocumented immigrants. In fact, the new policy prioritizes the deportation of criminals, and cases that are postponed can be reopened "at any given time."
From the August 19 edition of Fox News' Studio B:
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In her most recent Tribune Media column, former Fox News pundit Rachel Marsden, a Canadian who now lives in France, purports to advise U.S. lawmakers on what is the best "recipe" to be competitive in the global economy. She advises them to "focus on importing top talent and limiting low-level immigration," which she says would also better reflect their constituents' supposed views. But as it turns out, Marsden has no idea what she's talking about.
In a column brazen for its naked racism, Marsden laments the "white guilt overkill" that has seen the United States welcome "more Third World immigrants" in the past 40 years than "from Western European democracies and Canada." She then cites an Ipsos Global poll that found that "nearly one half (45%) of global citizens believe 'immigration has generally had a negative impact on their country' " -- including 56 percent of Americans -- and suggests that should be justification for halting immigration from Latin America and Asia. Indeed, she complains that following revised immigration laws to correct the system's historically racially biased structure, "Latin America and Asia dominated, while European immigration was reduced from 86% to a mere sliver of 13%."
Predictably, the column was hyped by Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) President Dan Stein, who linked to the column using the headline, "Public Isn't Buying Mass-Immigration."
But Marsden is just plain wrong. According to the Ipsos poll she mentions, Americans are split on the question of whether "priority should be given to immigrants with higher education and qualifications who can fill shortages among certain professions" in the United States. In fact, among all countries polled, the United States had the lowest number of respondents who agreed with that statement, with just 33 percent saying that high-skilled immigrants should be given priority. An equal number disagreed, with 30 percent being neutral.
In the past two years, Glenn Beck has repeatedly invoked slavery to attack President Obama, progressives, and progressive policies, among other things. Here is a sampling.
From the June 28 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight
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A trend that has been noticed far too often here at Media Matters is this: if Fox News wants to spin a certain aspect of a story to fit their conservative agenda, they'll do it any way they know how. Their blog, Fox Nation, seems to exist solely to do just that.
On June 25, an article appeared in the Los Angeles Times about a call by human rights groups, including the ACLU and Amnesty International, to investigate fatal shootings of various people who threw rocks and nail-studded boards at U.S. Border Patrol agents. The headline, as it appeared in the Times, read:
Fox Nation, linking to the same Los Angeles Times article, posted this headline:
Here, Fox Nation clearly manipulates the headline of the Times article in order to do two things, both of which are big talking points on the Fox News agenda: attack the ACLU, and use the blatantly offensive term "illegals" to describe the attackers in question who threw the rocks.
Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, recently revealed that he is an undocumented immigrant. Right-wing media responded with virulent anti-immigrant attacks, with Don Surber of the Charleston Daily Mail writing: "kick the lying, illegal alien Jose Antonio Vargas out."
Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter for the Washington Post, "outed" himself today as an undocumented immigrant in a self-authored New York Times Magazine piece detailing his experience as a young Filipino immigrant working hard to achieve the American dream. It wasn't until Vargas attempted to obtain a learner's permit at his local California DMV that he learned the citizenship documentation he had been provided by his naturalized grandparents was fake.
I decided then that I could never give anyone reason to doubt I was an American. I convinced myself that if I worked enough, if I achieved enough, I would be rewarded with citizenship. I felt I could earn it.
I've tried. Over the past 14 years, I've graduated from high school and college and built a career as a journalist, interviewing some of the most famous people in the country. On the surface, I've created a good life. I've lived the American dream.
But I am still an undocumented immigrant.
Predictably, it took almost no time for the right-wing slander machine to gear up its attacks on Vargas and his family.
First up, National Review's Daniel Foster accused Vargas of "fraudulent tax fraud," in a piece posted today:
Vargas entered the country illegally after his grandfather paid a coyote $4,500 to smuggle him in. The grandfather then obtained a fake passport and green card for Vargas, which they used to acquire a valid Social Security card. But that card, which subjected Vargas' right to work to the approval of the then-INS, was illegally doctored, allowing Vargas to secure job after job for more than a decade by showing nothing more than a photocopy of a fake document.
The first part of Vargas' story -- a kid living and loving America for years before his shocking discovery that he has been made complicit in a crime -- does indeed elicit sympathy. It's stories like these that make me open, at least in principle, to something like a narrowly-tailored version of the "DREAM" Act. But the second part of his story, in which a fear- and shame-driven Vargas, with the aid of his family, perpetuated and compounded those crimes (Vargas eventually got around to what you might redundantly call fraudulent tax fraud, repeatedly reporting himself as a citizen rather than a "permanent resident", when in fact he was neither), elicits from me nothing like the outpouring of support Vargas is already enjoying on the Left.