The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) debunked the Fox News claim that Mexicans are taking advantage of a "loophole" in asking for asylum at the border to gain entry into the United States. DHS reportedly called Fox's reporting "overstated" and said the increase in asylum requests at Southwestern border crossings have been "modest."
On August 12, Fox News repeatedly promoted the flawed narrative that immigrants at Southwestern border crossings were using a "loophole" to enter and stay in the United States illegally by saying key phrases, namely that they have a "credible fear" of the drug cartels. Fox News' reporting throughout the day and week accused Mexicans of gaming the immigration system this way, even though petitioning for asylum based on "credible fear" of persecution is a legitimate and long-standing policy in immigration law.
But Fox continued to advance the myth that "hundreds of illegal aliens are taking advantage of a loophole to cross the border and get asylum here in the U.S.," even using anti-immigrant nativists to add that it was an "orchestrated" scam.
In an August 17 article, however, the Associated Press reported that a DHS report on asylum numbers showed that Fox News' reporting was "overstated":
Requests for asylum in the United States along the border with Mexico have more than doubled over the last three years as immigrants seeking legal entry into the country claim a fear of persecution back home, according to a federal government report.
The so-called credible fear claims reached 14,610 by the end of June, with three months left in the fiscal year, the Department of Homeland Security reported. For the entire 2011 fiscal year, there were 6,824 such claims. The department's report notes, however, that those numbers are a tiny portion of the millions of travelers who legally enter the country each year.
The data was released on Friday, in part, to dispute claims first reported by Fox News that large numbers of Mexican citizens had been showing up at San Diego ports of entry recently to seek asylum, citing the drug violence in their country. Homeland Security Department officials said the news reports had been overstated and called the increase in asylum requests at those ports "modest."
Between Aug. 1 and Aug. 15, the agency said, an average of 30 people per day have arrived at San Diego ports seeking asylum, out of about 170,000 travelers who cross the border there legally each day.
The AP went on to report that DHS "officials say there has been no marked increase in the numbers of such asylum requests from Mexican citizens," and included DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard saying that border activity is "cyclical in nature" and that claims "of credible fear along the Southwest border vary month to month and year to year."
From the August 16 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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CNN anchor Kate Bolduan confronted Representative Steve King (R-IA) with a very basic question this morning on New Day: "Do you just not like Latinos?"
The anchor framed her query around an exchange the Iowa congressman had with Republican strategist Ana Navarro on Meet the Press on Sunday.
King did not address Bolduan's query, responding, "I think it's pretty clear that Ana didn't veil her bias against me. She didn't address a single fact that I delivered. She simply hurled accusations and baseless allegations."
He went on to defend his track record in Congress, citing his record of passing amendments in the House of Representatives while avoiding the issue of his feelings towards Latinos.
Bolduan refused to let King dodge, telling the Congressman, "I don't want to linger on this too much, but you said Ana Navarro didn't answer any of your questions. You didn't really answer mine either. . . that your comments come across as a thinly veiled bias against Latinos."
King's response -- still not directly answering the question -- was to say that if people interpret his comments that way, "I'd like to have them explain it." He then reiterated his widely criticized statement warning against drug smuggling immigrants.
Bolduan deserves praise, not only for her follow up questions pressing the subject, but for broaching the subject of motivations. Too often reporters, especially on television, are loath to ask questions that cut to the core of the motivations of legislators. This is especially true when it comes to issues that cross difficult boundaries of race and class.
But Bolduan's question deserves to be at the center of the immigration debate as demagogues like Rush Limbaugh and other leading conservatives object to the bill with their usual vitriol.
On issues such as immigration and voting rights, there are clear racial implications to the public policy positions taken by our elected representatives regardless of party or ideology. Part of the media's role should be to unearth these motivations, even when forced to ask uncomfortable questions about bigotry. To not do this simply leaves viewers only partially informed.
In a report that attempted to revive controversy over the Obama administration's deferred action program, Fox News repeatedly characterized the initiative as a way for undocumented immigrants to "avoid deportation." But this framing obscures the significant economic and social advantages that have been gained from this program, which has improved the lives of nearly half a million young immigrants.
Discussing a new smartphone app aimed at helping immigrants understand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals' program, or DACA, Fox & Friends First co-host Patti Ann Browne claimed the app would "help illegals avoid deportation" while on-screen text read: "Avoid Deportation App." She added that the app "is designed to help them take advantage of President Obama's non-deportation policy."
Fox News and other conservative media outlets have a long history of attacking the program. In fact, they derided it as "amnesty" when it was first introduced a year ago. Fox News even charged at the time that the program would "mak[e] it easier for acts of terrorism to be committed."
Contrary to Browne's assertions however, the app is simply a self-screening tool that will allow "DACA applicants to understand their eligibility" and offer "a searchable directory of listings for immigration legal services providers, including non-profit groups, in all 50 states."
From the August 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the August 14 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Fox News is turning to anti-immigrant and nativist organizations to further its failed narrative that Mexicans are gaming the immigration system by seeking asylum in the United States.
On August 12, Fox News repeatedly accused Mexicans coming into the United States from the U.S.-Mexico border of "taking advantage of a loophole" to enter the country, by invoking certain phrases like "credible fear" of drug cartels. In fact, petitioning for asylum based on "credible fear" of persecution is a legitimate and long-standing policy in immigration law.
Throughout the day, Fox News hosts and guests continued to push the narrative that immigrants were using these "bogus" asylum claims only to eventually disappear into the country after failing to attend their immigration hearings. As correspondent William LaJeunesse put it: "It's about overwhelming the system and getting released, getting a court date for which no one shows up."
To back up these assertions, Fox News relied on Pete Nunez, whom it identified simply as a former U.S. attorney for Southern California, to reinforce this last point. In numerous segments, Nunez claimed:
NUNEZ: Hundreds of thousands of people have never returned and the list of people for whom warrants are outstanding is phenomenal. So, yeah, we have a long history of people absconding from immigration hearings of one sort or another, they just blend back into the community.
According to the Department of Justice, only 11 percent of immigrants fail to appear for their immigration hearings.
None of the hosts pointed out, however, that while Nunez is indeed a former U.S. attorney for Southern California, he is also the chairman of the Board of Directors at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and a member of the National Board of Advisors for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). CIS is an anti-immigrant and nativist organization whose affiliation with hate groups has been thoroughly documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center. FAIR has similarly been designated a hate group by SPLC.
CIS has a long history of smears and inflammatory rhetoric against immigrants. It has also been exposed as a group that misrepresents evidence and data to substantiate dubious conclusions about immigrants. Frankly, in the words of the Center for the New Community, CIS "has proven not to be a credible voice in the debate on immigration." The American Prospect has charged that "convoluted logic and paranoia is typical of the research" CIS produces.
As to FAIR, SPLC has noted that its "leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements" and that one of the group's "main goals is upending the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended a decades-long, racist quota system that limited immigration mostly to northern Europeans." FAIR has reportedly received funding from white supremacist groups.
Fox News repeatedly trumpeted a report from a local Fox affiliate claiming that immigrants crossing at the U.S.-Mexico border are using a "loophole" to enter and stay in the United States illegally by saying key phrases, namely that they have a "credible fear" of the drug cartels. But as even its own reporting admitted, this so-called "loophole" is long-established asylum policy of allowing foreigners who fear persecution in their own country to state their case in immigration court. Moreover, the evidence doesn't support Fox's claims that these immigrants are using the tactic to ultimately skip out on their asylum hearings.
From the August 12 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham has repeatedly attacked and mocked the undocumented immigrants known as the "Dream 9," who in July staged a protest at the U.S.-Mexico border to highlight what they feel are unjust immigration laws. Ingraham has accused the activists of not respecting the laws of the United States, saying that "when you come into our home and make it your home, then you've got to follow the rules."
But far from respecting her nation's laws, Ingraham has hypocritically advocated for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, even going so far as to seemingly agree that shutting down the government over the law wouldn't be the end of world.
Discussing the Dream 9 movement in an interview with undocumented activist Cesar Vargas on Fox News, Ingraham criticized the activists for "flout[ing] the law" and mocked their protest as a "stunt" that was "disrespecting our laws." When Vargas explained that the activists are trying to show that their home's immigration laws are "outdated" and that the immigration system is "broken," Ingraham attacked them as opportunists intent on taking advantage of the Obama administration's deferred action program.
She also told Vargas that if the Dream 9 really consider the United States their home, then they should "respect" their home's law, adding: "When I go into someone else's home, I try to follow their rules. So when you come into our home and make it your home, then you've got to follow the rules."
But contrary to Ingraham's accusations, the Dream 9 have broken no immigration laws with their protest. As she herself admitted, all were brought into the country as children. They did not willingly come into the country illegally.
As the Los Angeles Times further explained, the Dream 9 are a group of undocumented immigrants who "staged an unconventional and risky protest last month at the U.S.-Mexico border to spotlight the thousands of people deported under the Obama administration."
From the August 8 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham used a single anecdote about supposed undocumented immigrants living together in close quarters to denounce a study finding that immigration reform would help the housing market. In fact, the study finds that the immigration population -- including undocumented immigrants -- would benefit the housing market by driving up values, as well as generating demand in previously less desirable neighborhoods.
The Wall Street Journal's news section has repeatedly parroted the Republican narrative on border security without pointing out that enforcement, not only along the border but in most areas of immigration law, is greater than ever. This uncritical coverage has allowed congressional Republicans to set the terms of the debate on immigration reform even though the Journal's editorial page has charged that these "border security first" arguments amount to obstructionism.
In an August 4 article highlighting an immigration reform proposal that Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is reportedly working on, the Journal gave weight to Goodlatte's statement that "[n]o illegal immigrant would gain legal status before efforts were in place to secure the border with Mexico," and Rep. Cory Gardner's (R-CO) argument that "he didn't want to consider" a plan that included a path to citizenship "until the issue of border security had been resolved."
The article did not explain the facts of border enforcement, much less point out that the Republican narrative on the matter "has become a ruse to kill reform." That's the way the Journal described "the real story" behind Republicans "once again demanding more enforcement as the price of their support" in a June 19 editorial titled, "The Border Security Ruse."
In a May 2 editorial that offered a "border security reality check," the Journal mocked the "porous border" argument and noted that "[c]ontrary to Republican claims that President Obama has turned a blind eye to illegal aliens, the official data indicate the opposite." It continued:
One lesson is that we can continue to militarize the border, but at some point it becomes overkill. The Republicans who claim we must "secure the border first" ignore the progress already made because their real goal isn't border security. It is to use border security as an excuse to kill immigration reform.
The editorial went on to cite relevant data to show that fewer immigrants will come illegally if you "[g]ive people more legal ways to enter and exit America."
A July 9 editorial asking whether the GOP would prove to be a "party of opportunity or closed borders," added: "Too often Americans hear the shrillest anti-immigration Republicans whose only argument is 'secure the border,' as if that is a sensible policy for the 21st century. House Speaker John Boehner's job is to make sure those voices don't carry the day."
A New York Times profile of Georgia anti-immigration activist D.A. King left out important context about King's white nationalist ties and the similarly racist background of NumbersUSA, a nationally prominent nativist organization cited in the article.
On August 7, The New York Times published an article detailing efforts by King and his organization, the Dustin Inman Society -- a group named after a boy killed in a car accident by a driver who was an undocumented immigrant -- to pressure Congressional Republicans to oppose efforts at immigration policy reform. The Times interviewed King and described some of his anti-immigrant policy stances while also highlighting his influence with NumbersUSA:
D. A. King, who quit his job as an insurance agent a decade ago to wage a full-time campaign against illegal immigration in Georgia, is one reason this state rivals Arizona for the toughest legal crackdown in the country. With his Southern manners and seersucker jackets, he works the halls of the gold-domed statehouse, familiar to all, polite and uncompromising.
Now, like other local activists around the country, he is looking beyond Georgia to stop the House of Representatives from following the Senate and passing legislation that would open a path to legal status for illegal immigrants.
As lawmakers return to their home districts for the August recess, advocates like Mr. King are joining forces with national groups that oppose legalization and favor reduced immigration for an all-out populist push.
"These local people live in the middle of these places, they know how to be effective in their districts," said Roy Beck, executive director of one of the largest national groups, NumbersUSA, who is now holding regular strategy calls with Mr. King and more than 50 other state advocates.
The Times' profile of King made note of some of the activist's inflammatory anti-immigrant rhetoric -- for example, King's depiction of Latino groups as "tribalists" and his description of immigration from Mexico to the U.S. as "an invasion" -- but omitted ties to white nationalist figures that permeate both King's and NumbersUSA's past.
The Daily Caller's Mickey Kaus will appear at an August 21 Tea Party meeting to whip up fears that comprehensive immigration reform "would change America irrevocably, and for the worse."
The Hancock Park Patriots, a Tea Party group based in Los Angeles, announced Kaus' participation in the event, promising that he would answer the questions "Can they be stopped?" and "What's the alternative?"
Kaus self-identifies as "neoliberal" and "common sense Democrat" but espouses a far-right ideology, including a fixation on union-busting, and his participation in the Hancock Park Patriots meeting makes clear that Kaus is anti-immigrant. The former Slate blogger has become obsessed with the issue, dedicating all but one of his posts in July on his Daily Caller blog to the subject.