Fox News stoked fears of terrorism to attack immigration reform while failing to acknowledge that the Senate's proposed immigration legislation includes provisions to bolster security measures.
The Washington Post reported the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing legally immigrated to the United States as political refugees. Fox News personalities responded by attacking immigration reform and stoking fears of terrorism, going so far as to suggest that visitors from certain countries and regions be banned from entering the United States.
On the April 30 edition of Fox & Friends First, co-host Heather Nauert continued Fox's pattern of using the Boston Marathon bombings to attack immigration reform and stoke fears of terrorism, asserting that terrorists are "being granted tourist visas." She went on to claim that certain individuals were "overstaying" those legal limits, and asked: "Why isn't there a plan in place to catch that?"
NAUERT: Critics say it is a gaping hole that Washington needs to fix, and fix right now ... And let's remember some of those 9-11 hijackers were here on student visas and overstayed those student visas as well.
During the report, on-screen text falsely claimed the Senate's immigration reform proposal "gives no solution" to individuals overstaying their immigration visas:
In fact, the number of legal immigrants overstaying their visas declined by 73% between 2000 and 2009, thanks to the Department of Homeland Security's enhanced security measures in the years following the September 11, 2001 attacks. The immigration reform bill introduced in the Senate on April 17 is designed to speed that decline by implementing what Republican Senator Marco Rubio called "an effective entry and exit system."
Responding to questions about enforcement and temporary visas in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano described how provisions in the Senate immigration reform bill would "give us more measurements, more metrics, more identities, more things that we can use from a law enforcement purpose."
Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev "initially escaped the notice of federal authorities on a six-month trip to Russia last year because his name was misspelled on his airline ticket," The Washington Post reported. But Napolitano pointed out that the proposed electronic monitoring system is designed to specifically address that problem, as it "does a good job of getting human error, to the extent it exists, out of the process."
CBS News reported that the bill's "modernized visa system" would monitor "the future traffic of immigrants during both departure and arrival to ensure that nobody overstays their welcome." The summary of the bill's framework further details that the success of the full proposal is "contingent upon our success in securing our border and addressing visa overstays" and requires "the completion of an entry-exit system that tracks whether all persons entering the United States on temporary visas via airports and seaports have left the country as required by law."
From the April 29 edition of Fox News Channel's Hannity:
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From the April 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the April 26 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Fox Nation falsely equated "amnesty," a term shown to produce negative reactions, with a pathway to earned citizenship for undocumented immigrants. In fact, a pathway to earned citizenship would require immigrants illegally in the U.S. to meet a number of requirements before applying for citizenship.
On April 24, Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a speech to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund in which he said, "creating a pathway to earned citizenship" for undocumented immigrants is "a matter of civil and human rights." Fox Nation highlighted the speech under the headline "Holder Calls Amnesty a 'Civil Right.' " In its post, however, Fox Nation reported that Holder said "creating a 'pathway to earned citizenship' was a 'civil right.' "
Fox Nation equated "amnesty" with a pathway to earned citizenship, but the two are not the same. To get on a pathway to earned citizenship, undocumented immigrants would have to face a number of hurdles, including completing a registration process, paying fines and taxes, and studying English.
Indeed, the comprehensive immigration reform proposal introduced in the Senate on April 17 by a bipartisan group of senators includes numerous conditions undocumented immigrants must meet before they can apply for citizenship, along with waiting a minimum of 13 years. That legislation has been repeatedly attacked by conservative media as "amnesty," even though immigration experts dispute the claim.
Conservative media figures are using the Boston Marathon bombings to pressure lawmakers to halt attempts at immigration reform, the details of which were released last week by eight bi-partisan members of the Senate known as the "Gang of Eight." By suggesting that immigration reform could facilitate future terrorist attacks, right-wing media are attempting to obstruct legislation that a majority of Americans support.
Lou Dobbs asked a series of questions about immigrants in America, claiming the answers didn't exist. In fact, many of his questions are not only easily answered, but highlight the contributions of immigrants of all kinds.
On his Fox Business program, Dobbs used his "chalk talk" segment to claim that immigration reform was being rushed through the Senate. As evidence, Dobbs asked a series of questions about undocumented immigrants, such as their education levels, employment status and economic contributions. In each case, Dobbs insisted that "we don't know" the answer:
Dobb's ignorance on basic immigration facts is surprising considering immigration has been one of his primary targets for years. Not only are the answers to many of his questions readily available, they point to both the accomplishments and contributions of immigrants and the need for comprehensive reform.
A 2009 report by the Fiscal Policy Institute found that between 1990 and 2006, "the metropolitan areas with the fastest economic growth were also the areas with the greatest increase in immigrant share of the labor force." A Bush-era study found that immigration as a whole adds $37 billion to the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) every year. The New York Times reported on the various economic benefits of immigrants, concluding, "Nearly all economists, of all political persuasions, agree that immigrants -- those here legally or not -- benefit the overall economy.
The economic contributions of immigrants would be even greater with immigration reform. UCLA professor and immigration expert Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda estimated that passing comprehensive immigration reform would add at least $1.5 trillion to the U.S. economy over 10 years. By comparison, Hinojosa-Ojeda found that expelling immigrants would decrease GDP by $2.6 trillion over 10 years.
Immigrants also pay taxes. The New York Times article pointed out that "undocumented workers contribute about $15 billion a year to Social Security through payroll taxes. They only take out $1 billion (very few undocumented workers are eligible to receive benefits). Over the years, undocumented workers have contributed up to $300 billion, or nearly 10 percent, of the $2.7 trillion Social Security Trust Fund." The Immigration Policy Center estimated that households with undocumented immigrants "paid $11.2 billion in state and local taxes. That included $1.2 billion in personal income taxes, $1.6 billion in property taxes, and $8.4 billion in sales taxes."
Further, educational levels of immigrants have been studied. According to a Brookings Institution report, the "share of working-age immigrants in the United States who have a bachelor's degree has risen considerably since 1980, and now exceeds the share without a high school diploma." A 2011 article in The Washington Post reported that "Highly skilled temporary and permanent immigrants in the United States now outnumber lower-skilled ones, marking a dramatic shift in the foreign-born workforce." According to Pew Hispanic Center, 52 percent of adult undocumented immigrants have a high school degree or greater.
From the April 22 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Fox News hosted anti-Islam activist Steve Emerson to repeat the disputed claim that a Saudi student he named as a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings is slated for deportation, one of several claims that Emerson got wrong about the bombings this week.
Emerson, who styles himself as some kind of expert on terrorism and Islamic extremism especially, has a tenuous history with the facts. Indeed, his analysis of Boston is reminiscent of his blunders about the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 -- when his certainty that Islamic terrorists were behind the incident was exposed as false.
On April 16, C-SPAN hosted Emerson to discuss the Boston bombings. As Salon reported, Emerson cited "classified information" when he fingered a "Saudi national" as a possible suspect because, he stated, "the burns on his skin match the explosive residue of the bomb that exploded."
A few hours later on Fox News, Emerson recanted, saying: "We're back to square one in terms of suspects because the Saudi suspect has been ruled out." Indeed, the Saudi student has been cleared of suspicion and according to law enforcement was never in custody.
But on Fox, Emerson continued to tie the bombings to "jihadists," claiming that the "actual fragment, which were nails and ball-bearings" used in Boston are "a hallmark, by the way, of jihadist suicide bombings." As The Daily Beast pointed out in response to Emerson's incorrect musings:
[T]he Boston Marathon bombs don't appear to have been suicide bombings at all, but just as he did in Oklahoma City, Emerson is attributing widely used modi operandi and ascribing it to Muslim terrorists. Just as Tim McVeigh and Anders Breivik might have been surprised to learn that only Middle Easterners seek to "inflict as many casualties as possible," so too would Ted Kaczynski (an anti-technology zealot known as the Unabomber) and David Copeland (a British neo-Nazi known as the Nailbomber) be surprised to learn that putting nails in bombs as shrapnel qualifies them as "jihadists." And actual terrorism expert Will McCants Tweeted a 2011 case where white supremacists had used ball bearings in a bomb.
Indeed, it is now being reported that two brothers who may be from Russia's Caucasus region are believed to be responsible for the Boston bombings.
The timing must have seemed too good to be true. And in the end, it was.
On Tuesday, the same day the Federation for American Immigration Reform kicked off its annual "Feet to the Fire" media and lobbying event on Capitol Hill, the "Gang of Eight" released its bipartisan immigration reform package. The bill's arrival is the biggest event in immigration politics in half a decade, and FAIR's organized presence could only be seen as a fortuitous start to its plan to kill any bill containing a path to citizenship. But the landing of the legislation wasn't quite the national story FAIR expected, and neither was FAIR's event. On Wednesday, guns overshadowed immigration when the Senate voted down another high-profile bipartisan bill. Celebrating this front-page defeat was the National Rifle Association, whose outsized role in the gun debate FAIR imagines for itself in the immigration debate.
The comparison is flattering to FAIR, but like the group's ideas about immigration, it enjoys an ever-thinner margin of overlap with political reality. The NRA may be a punch line in much of the country, out of step with national opinion and internal membership polls, but the gun group still draws ritual genuflections from Republican presidential hopefuls, and its press conferences enjoy close media scrutiny. FAIR is more of a shadowy outlier.
Despite FAIR president Dan Stein's 2013 convention-program claim that "we could not be more relevant," the group is less relevant than ever. After three decades of advocating single-mindedly punitive immigration policies often dripping with racial bile, few elected officials above county sheriff risk public association with the scandal-plagued outfit, which the Southern Poverty Law Center designated a hate-group in 2007. Sen. Marco Rubio, possibly the biggest GOP star contending for 2016, reportedly plans to conduct radio interviews at the event, but he and FAIR stand so far apart on the issue of immigration that Politico has described his appearance at the event as walking "into the lion's den."
As the political ground shifts following November's election, the conservative media has begun to move with it, shifting away from the Nativism that flows naturally from Stein's view that the 1965 Immigration Act -- which ended the racial quotas of the 1920s -- was "a form of revengism" against "Anglo-Saxon dominance." Many of the most influential national right-wing talkers have "evolved" on immigration issues in the months since Barack Obama's reelection. So have powerful voices on Fox News, which appears to be moderating its style-guide on immigration lexicon in hopes of both reeducating the base and winning Latino viewers and voters. The new signals on the right doesn't mean Bill O'Reilly and his prime-time colleagues at Fox will ever be seen marching behind a La Raza banner, but they have stepped away from "no amnesty" absolutism. This shift hasn't escaped the notice of Rush Limbaugh, who has suggested he may be the last media lion standing on FAIR's side of the line.
That day hasn't come yet. FAIR-style rhetoric is still popular on talk radio and with some hosts on Fox. The result is conservative-media schizophrenia. The buzzwords of the new Republican Realism are often just one commercial break from the sounds of Tucker Carlson slandering immigrants as welfare-addicted gang members who harm American workers, Neil Cavuto casting undocumented immigrants as part of an "illegal invasion," and Brian Kilmeade joking about undocumented students using "night vision video" footage of themselves to win scholarships.
This post-2012 split was audible on radio row at the Park Phoenix, which FAIR sees as America's best and last line of defense against a path to citizenship.
A Bloomberg Businessweek article pushed the myth that immigrants will take away jobs from high-skilled American workers. In fact, numerous studies show that highly skilled immigrants expand the number of jobs for all workers.
The article, titled "Immigration Reform May Make Your Job Search Much Tougher," makes the case that if immigration reform passes in its current form, high-skilled immigrants would compete with American workers, making it potentially more difficult for Americans to find jobs in some high-skilled markets. Neil Ruiz, an immigration expert at Brookings Institution, claims that potentially 343,000 foreign students would be eligible for visas due to the expansion of the H-1B visa program and the lifting of the cap on "aliens of extraordinary ability" visas:
The Senate's bill also lifts the caps entirely on another category of high-skilled immigrants, known as "aliens of extraordinary ability." (Yes, that's really the term.) If an immigrant has an MD, a PhD in math, science, or engineering, or can prove to the government that she has extraordinary abilities--a successful dancer or editor of a niche magazine, for example--then one can bypass the entire H1-B system. An employer can sponsor the immigrant immediately for a green card.
Under the bill, even undergrads can get green cards directly out of college without having to apply for the H1-B. Ruiz estimates that about 343,000 foreign students currently studying in the U.S. will be eligible to apply for this fast track to citizenship.
However, there already is no cap on visas for immigrants with "extraordinary ability." Moreover, even without Senate legislation, the number of people who could potentially qualify for this visa type (O-1 visa) is small. Out of almost 9 million visas given out last year, only 10,590 people were issued "O-1" type visas, which are split into two categories -- O-1A for science, technology, engineering and math and O-1B for those involved in the arts.
The visa process requires the applicant to show they have "received a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize," or additional criteria. The O-1B visa requires similar evidence, including a "significant national or international award or prize ... such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy." In addition, unless guidelines change under the new comprehensive immigration legislation, the visa expires after three years and must be renewed each following year.
However, even with more highly skilled workers, studies have shown that more immigrants actually increases demand for workers, stimulates investment, and promotes specialization for many workers already in the labor force.
Immigration experts dispute right-wing radio claims that the comprehensive immigration reform proposal is "amnesty." Indeed, the legislation introduced in the Senate on April 17 by a bipartisan group of senators includes a number of provisions undocumented immigrants would have to meet before they could apply for citizenship -- along with waiting at a minimum 13 years.
To attack the legislation, conservative radio talk hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham are claiming that the immigration proposal is "amnesty" and that undocumented immigrants would not have to earn citizenship. In fact, the bill places a number of conditions on undocumented immigrants before they could apply for citizenship. Moreover, the federal government would have to meet several border enforcement guidelines before undocumented immigrants could take advantage of such a path.
Here are five immigration experts who also dispute right-wing radio claims that the proposal is "amnesty":
From the April 18 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Right-wing radio talk hosts are attacking the comprehensive immigration reform proposal as "amnesty," claiming undocumented immigrants will not have to earn citizenship. In fact, immigrants here illegally would face a number of hurdles before they could even apply for permanent residency under the bill, including paying fees, fines, and taxes.
On her syndicated radio show, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham repeatedly claimed that the Senate bill -- introduced on April 17 as the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act" -- is "amnesty" because, according to her, undocumented immigrants will not be punished for breaking the law. She further stated: "This is amnesty. Within six months, every single person here illegally gets to be RPI. RPI is the provisional immigrant status. You get that in six months after the bill is signed."
Rush Limbaugh also attacked the bill as "amnesty" on his radio show.
In fact, the bill places a number of conditions on undocumented immigrants before they can apply for citizenship -- which is contingent upon the federal government meeting several border enforcement guidelines. Moreover, not all would qualify.
From the April 17 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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