The battle for the future of the Republican Party has split warring factions of conservative pundits into two camps: those who clamor for expanding the base to increase diversity by appealing to Latino voters, and those who don't. It's Rush Limbaugh versus Sean Hannity, Fox News against Fox News.
But while the country's shifting demographics can partly explain what happened on Election Day, conservative pundits are ignoring a few keys facts: President Obama was reelected because voters trusted him on economic issues, and Latinos are more liberal in their views than conservative media give them credit for.
The wide consensus in the first camp is that Mitt Romney's electoral loss will be the first of many unless the movement starts to appeal to the growing Latino and nonwhite American population. This admission has resulted in some stunning reversals. Staunch anti-immigrant voices, who for years have frothed at the mouth to impeach President Obama over his immigration policies, are now agreeing with Obama's position: Congress should pursue legislation designed to put undocumented immigrants on "a path to citizenship." In conservative media circles, this is known as "amnesty."
On his Thursday radio show, Hannity admitted as much. After noting how lopsided the Latino vote turned out to be -- 71 percent of Hispanics voted for Obama as opposed to 27 who favored Romney -- Hannity repudiated what has characterized the conservative position on immigration, saying:
HANNITY: We've got to get rid of the immigration issue altogether. It's simple for me to fix it. I think you control the border first. You create a pathway for those people that are here. You don't say you've gotta go home. And that is a position that I've evolved on.
On Geraldo Rivera's radio show, after saying Republicans shouldn't make overtures to African-American voters, O'Reilly claimed:
O'REILLY: Hispanic American voters, generally speaking, are conservative socially. They don't believe in gay marriage. They're not libertines. They're not people looking for a handout. They're not that -- generally speaking. They're traditional, family oriented people who are faith-based most of them. And they're Catholics. That's where the Republican Party has to start.
From the November 8 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
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From the November 7 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Wall Street Journal columnist Karl Rove created a dishonest alternate reality in order to portray President Obama as an impediment to achieving compromise and enacting legislation. In the real world, Republican obstructionism is responsible for the failure to reach compromise on the issues Rove identified.
Republican Obstruction Blocked Immigration Reform. In his column, Rove dishonestly suggested Obama was to blame for not "passing immigration reform." But Obama has tried to pass immigration reform, while Republicans have repeatedly blocked such attempts. In 2007, the Senate voted on comprehensive immigration reform. Obama, who was a senator at the time, voted for the measure. But Republicans blocked it. Reuters explained:
[T]he president was unable to overcome fierce opposition from fellow Republicans who said it was an amnesty that rewarded illegal immigrants. A majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives also opposed the Senate bill.
The GOP continued this anti-immigration reform obstruction after Obama became president. In 2010, Senate Republicans blocked Obama's attempt to pass the DREAM Act -- which would allow certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to stay. The DREAM Act passed the House. But as ABC News reported, the Republicans killed the DREAM Act in the Senate when it "failed to win the 60 votes needed to break a GOP filibuster."
Republicans Refused To Negotiate On The Federal Deficit. Rove dishonestly suggested Obama was to blame for not crafting a bipartisan agreement on spending, taxes, and the federal deficit, by endorsing Bowles-Simpson fiscal policy recommendations and working with "that bright young Republican budget wizard from Wisconsin, [Rep.] Paul Ryan [R-WI]" to get the recommendations passed. In reality, the attempt to reach a compromise on fiscal policies fell victim to Republican obstruction.
In fact Bloomberg noted that GOP vice-presidential hopeful Paul Ryan "was a pivotal figure in killing" Bowles-Simpson. In a January 7, 2011, blog post, The Economist wrote that "the opposition by Mr Ryan and his two fellow House Republicans more or less guaranteed the plan would die." According to Bloomberg Businessweek, one of the commission members, former New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg speculated that the objection by House Republicans was based on the revenue generating parts of the plan that were, in their minds, "tantamount to a tax increase."
Republican candidates for president cheered on these refusals to compromise on fiscal policy. Indeed, during the August 11, 2011, Republican presidential debate, all the participating candidates opposed any measure that would raise taxes, as a way to close the deficit, even if for every one dollar in new revenue collected ten dollars was cut from the federal budget.
While guest hosting The O'Reilly Factor on August 24, Monica Crowley praised SB 1070 architect Kris Kobach's filing suit against the Obama administration's "deferred action" policy, which allows young undocumented immigrants to temporarily remain in the United States. But Crowley failed to mention that the deportation policy is the continuation of long-standing prosecutorial discretion, and also neglected to report the lawsuit's basic procedural flaws.
Instead, Crowley ignored the weaknesses of the lawsuit and alleged the policy is "illegal," accused the administration of acting "extra-constitutionally," and finally commended Kobach for "fighting the good fight" against a "banana republic."
The lawsuit was filed in district court by Kobach on August 23 on behalf of 10 disgruntled Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and is underwritten by controversial "immigration-restriction" group NumbersUSA, despite the Supreme Court's recent reminder that "[a] principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials." Nevertheless, the lawsuit challenges the administration's policy of deferred action in deportation proceedings for undocumented youth - a continuation of standard immigration discretion also practiced by George W. Bush - and further undermines its credibility through its choice of plaintiffs.
Yesterday I laid out how Richard Miniter, author of the new anti-Obama book Leading From Behind, mixes up dates to allege that President Obama was slow to act on intelligence regarding Osama bin Laden's whereabouts. Today we'll look at how Miniter lies about the president's legislative successes during the 2010 lame-duck session, claiming that Obama's agenda for that period (the vast majority of which was approved) failed in Congress.
On pages 84-85, Miniter writes about the aftermath of the 2010 midterm elections and faults Obama for presenting an "ambitious" and "unrealistic" legislative agenda for the lame-duck session. Miniter says Obama's "timing and strategy were ill-considered" and that his legislative proposals were "dead on arrival" with the "exhausted" Congress:
Obama seemed strangely upbeat. The day after the midterm elections, the president convened a meeting with his senior staff.
While they saw clouds, he saw the sun through them. Democrats still ran both houses of Congress until January 3, 2011, when the new session convened. To the surprise of some staffers present, he enumerated an ambitious list of measures that he would like to see made law in the next sixty days: "a tax deal, extending unemployment benefits, ratification of New START treaty reducing nuclear arms, repeal of the Pentagon's Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy preventing gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military, passage of the DREAM Act (which would grant citizenship to undocumented young adults who met certain requirements), and a children's nutrition bill advocated by Michelle Obama."
The list was unrealistic. It would have been a demanding agenda for Congress to accomplish over two years, let alone two months.
Still, Obama was keen to proceed as planned. He was finally going to lead, but the timing and strategy were ill-considered.
"Obama didn't care about the criticism that he was too insular," a White House aide said. "He didn't give a shit."
Obama's proposals were dutifully sent to Capitol Hill, but most were essentially dead on arrival. Congress was exhausted and didn't want to take any more political risks.
An NPR report today about the Obama administration's deferred action program for young undocumented immigrants quoted Americans For Legal Immigration PAC president William Gheen, who yesterday claimed that the program "will allow illegal aliens who are willing to lie about coming to the US as children to be given 'deferred status' and work permits starting immediately."
On June 15, the Obama administration announced a plan that will give eligible undocumented youth a chance to avoid deportation and work in the country legally. That program went into effect today; and thousands have reportedly started the application process.
Gheen -- who went on to write that President Obama's action "will rapidly increase the number of illegal aliens feloniously voting in US elections, stealing your jobs and expecting future benefits" -- posted his screed on the website of ALIPAC, an anti-immigrant organization supported by the Federation for American Immigration Reform and allied with former Minutemen groups. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated FAIR a hate group.
In light of this, it's hard to understand NPR's decision to lend Gheen credibility on the issue of deferred action for immigrants. And not only did NPR quote Gheen, it also failed to inform viewers of Gheen's extreme views of immigrants.
Indeed, ALIPAC is not known to hide its extremist views or what it thinks of policies that seek to help the undocumented population. In fact, the front page of the organization's website contains a hoard of inflammatory rhetoric that NPR should have been aware of.
Headlines that include "amnesty" or "illegals" or such phrases as "Obama releases violent illegal aliens upon American citizenry in mass dream amnesty" don't induce honest debate, let alone encourage meaningful discussion. They're red herrings meant to attract similar xenophobic rhetoric.
Right-wing media are stirring up outrage over a UCLA online learning program that will offer students, regardless of legal status, the chance to study immigrant and labor rights. The one-year program, which is open to any student who has graduated from a U.S. high school, will cost the same for all students. But Fox News claimed the program would be a "much better deal" if "you are an illegal alien" than a legal resident or American citizen.
UCLA recently launched the National Dream University as a joint effort with the National Labor College. The program is a one-year, accredited program which does not offer a degree, and is comparable to 18 academic credits that are "transferrable to other institutions of higher education." The program offers six courses to be completed in trimesters over the course of 2013 on topics related to labor and immigration policy.
On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade said that if you are "illegal and qualify for this program, it will cost you $2,400. If you made the foolish mistake of becoming a resident and belong here, then you'll get punished and be paying $6,642." Fox & Friends aired the following on-screen graphic:
But Fox's numbers are wrong. The cost of the program, which is "open to everyone regardless of their immigration status," is the same. An extensive search of the UCLA website Fox cited as a source provided no tuition figures that match the "Legal Student" costs projected during the Fox & Friends segment. Further, in an email to Media Matters, Kent Wong, director of the UCLA Labor Center, confirmed that tuition for the program does not change based on the student's status:
Fox Nation is claiming that the Obama administration is "selling amnesty for $465" through a policy that allows some young undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and possibly avoid deportation. In fact, the $465 is the cost of the application process for deferments from deportation; it is not "amnesty" since applicants are not guaranteed approval and the policy does not confer legal status. The policy is simply a temporary reprieve from deportation that allows immigrants to apply to work in the country legally.
On June 15, the Department of Homeland Security announced:
[C]ertain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.
Of course, Fox Nation's claim isn't true. The website linked to an ABC News blog post stating:
The Department of Homeland Security today announced details of the application and approval process for the DREAM Act-like program, outlining specific eligibility requirements and a $465 fee. It will begin Aug. 15.
A Detroit Free Press article explained that "[t]he total cost for the application process will be $465," but applying for deferment from deportation does not mean it will be granted. As has been explained before, DHS announced that the policy will allow undocumented immigrants who arrived in America as children and meet other eligibility requirements to request "consideration of deferred action" on a "case-by-case basis" starting on August 15.
CNN's Soledad O'Brien dismissed GOP obstructionism on immigration reform, downplaying the filibuster of the DREAM Act by Senate Republicans and suggesting the Obama administration didn't do enough on immigration issues.
In an interview today with Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), O'Brien said:
O'BRIEN: When I was talking to [Romney adviser] Carlos Gutierrez -- who was representing the Obama campaign [sic] -- yesterday, his consistent message to me was, Forget about Mitt Romney. Let's talk about what Obama has done. Or hasn't done maybe is a better way of putting it. Doesn't he have a point? You look at immigration reform. There was an opportunity; it was not done. When you look at the record number of people who are being deported, that's something the president has done. Isn't this on immigration kind of a mixed bag for the president.
After Van Hollen pointed out that Democrats tried to pass the DREAM Act but were blocked by Senate Republicans, O'Brien played a clip of Carlos Gutierrez, an honorary co-chair of Mitt Romney's Hispanic Steering Committee, accusing Obama of "fail[ing] to provide leadership" on immigration issues and said:
O'BRIEN: You're specifically talking about the DREAM Act, but what [Gutierrez is] talking about is there was an opportunity early on and it was not done. Could have been done and was not done.
Van Hollen responded by again pointing out that Republicans blocked the DREAM Act and saying that "if you can't even pass" the DREAM Act, "how can you talk about doing comprehensive immigration reform?"
In 2010, despite nearly unanimous opposition from Republicans, the DREAM Act passed the House. It died in the Senate, however, even though three years earlier, a dozen Republican senators had supported the bill. ABC News wrote at the time: "By a vote of 55 to 41, the bill -- the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM Act -- failed to win the 60 votes needed to break a GOP filibuster, even though the measure passed the House last week."
Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court struck down three of the four contested provisions of Arizona's anti-immigrant law, SB 1070. In the wake of the decision, the Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times all allowed anti-immigrant voices to peddle misinformation about the ruling's impact. The LA Times quoted an Americans for Legal Immigration (ALIPAC) statement while the Washington Post quoted both Dan Stein of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) -- a Southern Poverty Law Center labeled- hate group -- and Roy Beck of NumbersUSA, a group associated with white supremacists and the notorious anti-immigrant activist John Tanton. However, while both the LA Times and the Post gave limited space to these voices, the New York Times provided an extensive section to Mr. Stein and FAIR:
Both sides claimed on Monday that they had achieved important gains. Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, a group that supported Arizona, called the ruling "an important victory."
"Even if the Obama administration refuses to enforce most immigration laws, states have the power to deter and discourage illegal aliens from settling or remaining within their jurisdictions," Mr. Stein said.
He said the ruling, coupled with a Supreme Court decision last year that affirmed an Arizona law requiring employers to verify the legal immigration status of employees, gives states "broad latitude to carry out a policy of attrition through enforcement."
Mr. Stein's organization supported a small but determined corps of lawyers who created legal blueprints for Arizona's and other state laws that were intended to drive out illegal immigrants by making daily life impossible for them in this country.
As a Media Matters study previously found, the top five newspapers in America cited anti-immigrant groups hundreds of times since the introduction of SB1070 in January 2010. In addition, as was the case with FAIR's description here, the New York Times often whitewashed the group's ugly past, including its strong ties to Tanton and the fact that it has received over $1.2 million from the white supremacist Pioneer Fund. The Times had previously published two articles detailing the group's affiliations to Tanton and white nationalist organizations and acknowledging FAIR's effort to scrub Tanton's name from their website following the initial report.
Unfortunately, the Washington Post and the New York Times weren't the only ones to provide a platform for Stein to air his anti-immigrant views. Immediately following the ruling, CNN hosted Stein for an interview to air his reaction to the ruling. Unsurprisingly, CNN's John King also failed to note Stein's unsavory ties, instead calling FAIR "the country's largest immigration reform group."
Following the Supreme Court ruling striking down most of Arizona's controversial immigration bill, Fox News gave a platform to the heads of two anti-immigrant groups to comment on the decision.
On June 25, Fox News Latino's politics section published a piece by Dan Stein in which the frequent Fox guest and president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) declared the ruling a "victory" for Arizona and criticized the Obama administration's use of prosecutorial discretion to postpone deportation proceedings of certain undocumented workers in order to prioritize the removal of others.
On the same day, FoxNews.com published an opinion piece by Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA. Beck heralded the ruling as an opportunity for other states to "follow Arizona's lead" in enforcing immigration laws "in the way that Congress intended, even if the president insists on violating those laws."
Fox's decision to give Stein and Beck a platform to comment on the Arizona immigration ruling comes in spite of the fact that both of their groups are virulently anti-immigrant.
Indeed, FAIR is an anti-immigrant organization considered a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Not only does it have a history of using extreme, violent, and offensive language aimed at undocumented immigrants, but it has extremist ties as well.
Beck's NumbersUSA is an anti-immigration group with white nationalist ties. It also has ties to the anti-immigration network of John Tanton, "the anti-immigration crusader" who "spent decades at the heart of the white nationalist movement."
The SPLC has referred to Beck as Tanton's "heir apparent." Beck has also been an editor of Tanton's journal, The Social Contract, which, according to the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (IREHR), "has repeatedly served as a platform for white nationalists."
From the June 25 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Fox News reacted to news that the Supreme Court struck down most of Arizona's controversial immigration bill, SB 1070, by citing arguments that the one provision that was not immediately thrown out is "the heart of the entire bill," while Fox Nation claimed the decision was a "defeat for Obama." Fox's attempt to find a silver lining is unsurprising, as it has long been a staunch supporter of the statute. But the court's decision was overwhelmingly against the bill and the remaining provision could eventually be overturned.
In their decision today, the Supreme Court invalidated sections 3, 5(C), and 6 of SB 1070, ruling that Arizona did not have the authority to make status as an undocumented immigrant a state crime, to make it illegal for them to work in the state, and most importantly, that state law enforcement officials cannot arrest any individual on the sole basis that they have probable cause to believe the individual is in the country illegally. The one provision, 2(B), that was not immediately thrown out, allows law enforcement to check the immigration status of people arrested for other crimes, but left open the possibility that the statute could be invalidated at a later point. In his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted:
There is a basic uncertainty about what the law means and how it will be enforced. At this stage, without the benefit of a definitive interpretation from the state courts, it would be inappropriate to assume §2(B) will be construed in a way that creates a conflict with federal law.
This opinion does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it goes into effect.
SCOTUSblog explained that the ruling of the court means that 2(B) can be invalidated later if enforced in a unconstitutional way:
Police Checks. Section 2(B) of the law requires the police to check the immigration status of persons whom they arrest before releasing them. It also allows the police to stop and arrest anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant. The Court held that the lower courts were wrong to prevent this provision from going into effect while its lawfulness is being litigated. It was not sufficiently clear that the provision would be held preempted, the Court held. The Court took pains to point out that the law, on its face, prohibits stops based on race or national origin and provides that the stops must be conducted consistent with federal immigration and civil rights laws. However, it held open that the provision could eventually be invalidated after trial.