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.
Fox News on Friday replayed comments by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney that President Obama "did nothing to advance" immigration reform until this year without noting that those comments are false. Indeed, Obama and the Democrats tried and failed to pass the DREAM Act in 2010, because Senate Republicans filibustered it after the legislation had already passed the House.
Instead, Fox's America's Newsroom amplified Romney's erroneous attack:
JAMIE COLBY (anchor): Mitt Romney taking a shot at President Obama's immigration policy while speaking at a convention of Latino leaders, saying that the president's exec order -- purely political.
ROMNEY [video clip]: This president had huge majorities in the House and Senate. He was free to pursue any policy he pleased, but he did nothing to advance a permanent fix for our broken immigration system. Nothing. Instead, he failed to act until facing a tough reelection and trying to secure your vote.
On June 15, Obama announced that the Department of Homeland Security would allow certain young undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation, provided they meet a list of criteria. In his speech at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference, Romney blasted the president for the immigration shift and his supposed failure to "advance a permanent fix for our broken immigration system."
Reporter Molly Henneberg, who called announcement "very well timed," then said:
HENNEBERG: The president wants Congress to pass the DREAM Act, Republicans oppose it because it gives a path to citizenship for some children who were brought here illegally.
Henneberg did not mention that the DREAM Act was introduced in 2010 and voted on in Congress -- it passed the House, but garnered only 55 votes in the Senate, instead of the required 60 to break a Republican filibuster that prevented it from being brought up for a final vote.
When Romney made a similar claim about Obama's immigration reform efforts on CBS' Face The Nation,
FactCheck.org called the claim "exaggerate[d]" and wrote:
Obama supported and lobbied for the DREAM Act, which would have created a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. The bill passed the House in December 2010, but failed in the Senate largely because of Republican opposition.
FactCheck.org concluded: "Romney simply goes too far when he says Obama 'did nothing,' and he glosses over the role of his own party in blocking the legislation the president proposed."
A few days ago, Fox News contributor Karl Rove went on Hannity and promptly dropped four lies in four minutes, one of which was that President Obama promised to introduce comprehensive legislation in August 2009, but "nothing has happened." Writing in The Wall Street Journal yesterday, columnist Kimberley Strassel put forth the same argument in trying to disprove Obama's statement that his administration's recent policy shift on immigration had to be done in "the absence of any immigration action from Congress to fix our broken immigration system."
The president's claim that he had to do this because Congress wouldn't act -- a statement made in the face of Mr. Rubio's efforts toward a deal and the president's own lack of interest in compromise over his more than three years in office -- was particularly galling.
In fact, Obama and the Democrats did try to address immigration reform but were rebuffed by Senate Republicans -- something right-wing media have been trying to erase from the historical record. Moreover, when it became clear that immigration reform would not be attainable, Obama focused his administration's efforts into ramping up enforcement and fortifying the border -- which many Republicans demanded as a condition for supporting reform.
On MSNBC today, contributor Ari Melber and political analyst Michael Eric Dyson pointed some of this out following a speech by Mitt Romney to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, during which he adopted the right-wing frame. Romney claimed that Obama "failed to address immigration reform" after he promised to do so in 2008.
But as Dyson and Melber noted, that's not true.
After President Obama announced that the U.S. will stop deporting certain young immigrants, Fox News figures have accused President Obama of undercutting Republican Sen. Marco Rubio's attempt to pass legislation reportedly similar to the DREAM Act. In fact, Obama and Democrats attempted to pass the DREAM Act in 2010, before being blocked by Senate Republicans.
On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart mocked Fox News for falsely accusing President Obama of hypocrisy regarding recent administration changes to immigration policy.
Stewart pointed out that Fox had deceptively edited comments by Obama. As a result, Fox left the false impression that the president didn't believe his administration could use its discretion to allow certain young immigrants to stay in the country.
Stewart pointed out that Fox's edited video cut Obama off "just before he very clearly says he can do the exact thing he just did."
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Funny thing about the Daily Caller: they've never been wrong.
That seems to be their official stance, at least. Even when they are spectacularly in error -- something that happens to every news org now and again -- Tucker Carlson and his retinue will get right in your face and tell you nope, you're wrong, we're right.
Consider the flap over Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro's absurd outburst during President Obama's June 15 statement on the new immigration policy. Nearly every observer, regardless of ideology, agrees that Munro acted unprofessionally, and disrespected himself and his organization. But not Tucker Carlson: "A good reporter gets the story. We're proud of Neil Munro."
Standing by your own is one thing, but this goes beyond merely circling the wagons. Carlson is arguing that Munro behaved as a reporter should -- that he "got the story." This praise is belied by the actual story Munro wrote, which contained little substance, barely touched on the policy at issue, and lacked detail (probably because Munro didn't do any actual reporting while he was at the White House).
Acknowledging miscues is part of the professional news business, but this screw-the-world counterfactual stubbornness is the Daily Caller's go-to response for those moments when they cross the line.
Last September, Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle wrote a piece claiming that the Environmental Protection Agency is "asking for taxpayers to shoulder the burden of up to 230,000 new bureaucrats -- at a cost of $21 billion -- to attempt to implement" new greenhouse gas regulations. Boyle's source, a court brief filed by the EPA, actually said the exact opposite: the EPA had issued a rule in May 2010 that allowed the agency to avoid that scenario. Boyle misread the document and got the story completely wrong.
After various media outlets weighed in and confirmed that the Daily Caller had botched the report, executive editor David Martosko penned an editorial note lashing out at critics and declaring: "Our news story was well reported, carefully sourced, and solidly written. Despite the criticisms that some have offered, we haven't changed a word." Defiance notwithstanding, his rationalization for not correcting the story didn't hold up.
Defending the story to Politico, Martosko argued, essentially, that the story had to be right because the EPA is government and government is bad: "What's more likely: that the Obama administration's EPA wants to limit its own power, or that it's interested in dramatically increasing its reach and budget? Anyone who has spent more than a few months in Washington knows the answer."
From the June 19 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Right-wing media have misrepresented President Obama's remarks to falsely accuse him of hypocrisy on immigration policy.
On June 15, Obama announced a change in the Department of Homeland Security's immigration policy that will allow certain young immigrants to remain in the country.
Right-wing media have since pointed to three Obama remarks to claim the president himself believes the immigration policy change is illegitimate. In fact, each of Obama's statements is consistent with the new policy.
In all of the statements the right-wing media highlighted, Obama stated that while he can't unilaterally change the law, his administration can use its prosecutorial discretion to focus on criminals rather than law-abiding immigrants, and that is just what the DHS policy change does.
Right Wing Media Misrepresent Remarks Obama Made At Univision Town Hall Meeting
Right-wing media, such as MichelleMalkin.com, The Blaze and the Daily Caller, seized on remarks made by Obama during a March 28, 2011, Univision town hall meeting. Each of these websites highlighted Obama's comment that he could not "suspend deportations through executive order." The Blaze concluded that Obama was acknowledging that the immigration policy change "would be a rank violation of the separation of powers."
Obama's comments during the Univision event were actually perfectly consistent with the DHS policy change. On Friday, Obama did not announce an executive order on immigration; rather DHS said it will use its discretion to allow certain young immigrants to remain in the country on a "case by case basis."
And at the Univision event, Obama said that the administration is using and will continue to use its discretion to focus on deporting immigrants "who've engaged in criminal activity" rather than non-criminals. Obama also highlighted the fact that while deportations of criminal immigrants are up under his administration, "deportation of non-criminals are down."
This is consistent with the DHS policy, which states that criminals are not eligible to remain in the country while certain young non-criminals will be allowed to stay.
Bill O'Reilly brought Karl Rove onto his Fox News show for a dizzying spin session about the Obama administration's announcement that it will allow some young undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. In a short span, Rove managed put forward numerous falsehoods about the new policy and the recent history of the immigration debate.
Here are four facts about immigration -- and how Rove tried to jam them up:
1. The change in deportation policy for young people is legal. The Department of Homeland Security announced that it will exercise its prosecutorial discretion and consider exempting some young immigrants from deportation. This is consistent with current law and has decades of precedent. But on The O'Reilly Factor, Rove claimed that President Obama is saying that "we will selectively apply the laws of the United States" and that "[w]e will exempt a class of people from the statutes. There's no authority, I think, to do that."
2. The new policy will be applied case by case. The DHS press release describing the policy change says, "Under this directive, individuals who demonstrate that they meet [certain] criteria will be eligible for an exercise of discretion ... on a case by case basis." On The O'Reilly Factor, Rove falsely asserted that Obama is saying that "we will selectively apply the laws of the United States, not individual, case by case by case, but by class."
3. Comprehensive reform legislation was introduced in Congress under Obama. In December 2009, Democrats introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the House of Representatives. On The O'Reilly Factor, Rove falsely claimed that in August 2009, Obama promised to introduce comprehensive legislation, but "nothing has happened."
4. Republicans led the way in killing 2007 reform legislation. In June 2007, Senate Republicans played a dominant role in killing comprehensive reform legislation, which was backed by President Bush. A majority of the Democrats in the body voted to advance the legislation, while a majority of the Republicans voted to block it. Rove dubiously claimed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "was the guy who screwed up comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. He really is not a fan of comprehensive immigration reform."
From the June 18 edition of The O'Reilly Factor:
Following the announcement that the Department of Homeland Security will stop deporting certain undocumented immigrants, Lou Dobbs incorrectly claimed on his Fox Business show that "a good portion" of those affected were "adults when they came here." In fact, the policy change applies only to immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before they were 16.
Today, the Fox "straight news" program America Live hosted Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), to discuss the legality of President Obama's new immigration policy, which will potentially exempt certain young undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to work here legally.
As Media Matters has previously documented, 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.
Unsurprisingly, Stein spent the interview, which also included immigration attorney Francisco Hernandez, falsely suggesting the change in immigration policy is lawless. Stein characterized the change as an "outrageous power grab" and said that "the president's responsibility is to faithfully execute the laws of the United States. He does not have the right to completely rewrite the immigration law, give out these kinds of benefits."
However, as Hernandez pointed out, the policy shift is an exercise of prosecutorial discretion that is consistent with current law. Indeed, American Immigration Lawyers Association president David Leopold explained in a report that "[a]ll law enforcement agencies" have prosecutorial discretion, "including those that enforce immigration laws." As Penn State law professor Shaba Sivaprasad Wadhia noted in a 2009 article, immigration authorities have been using prosecutorial discretion to stop deportation proceedings for more than 30 years.
Furthermore, the new policy is consistent with decades of immigration law.
This is not the first time Fox has given a platform to Stein. In August 2011, America's Newsroom hosted him to attack Obama's immigration policy and defend Alabama's controversial immigration law. In March 2011, Fox & Friends hosted him to push the myth that women come to the U.S. solely to give birth.
From the June 16 edition of Sirius XM's Media Matters Radio:
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