In the latter portions of Monday night's Republican presidential debate, the candidates were asked how they would "prevent illegal immigrants from using our health care, educational, or welfare systems." The topic quickly veered into a discussion of citizenship, as debate moderator and CNN anchor John King asked: "If there are two illegal immigrants, two adults who came into this country illegally, and they have a child, should that child be considered a citizen of the United States?"
Herman Cain answered "I don't believe so." He elaborated on his answer after the debate, telling ThinkProgress that the "14th Amendment doesn't talk about people that were here illegally." Tim Pawlenty, who has previously endorsed revoking the birthright citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment, said that birthright citizenship came about "because a U.S. Supreme Court determined that that right exists, notwithstanding language in the Constitution."
This is a big deal. At least two people running for the presidency want to change the fundamental notion of American citizenship as it has been understood since Reconstruction. Indeed, they want to change the Constitution to achieve that end. But their position is not getting much in the way of media attention.
Fox & Friends recently defended Alabama's controversial new immigration law, which, among other things, makes it illegal to knowingly give an undocumented immigrant a ride and requires schools to check students' immigration status. However, while Fox & Friends acknowledged that some provisions of the law may be unconstitutional, the show largely failed to address any specific criticisms of the law, including that the law could lead to racial profiling.
For some unknown reason, on Friday, C-SPAN decided to host Roy Beck, executive director of anti-immigration group NumbersUSA, to talk about immigration policy. And Beck, whose strategy centers on advocating for an immigration system that will leave immigrants with no choice but to depart the United States en masse, appeared on the network's Washington Journal program unchallenged. Not once during the more than half-hour interview did he go head-to-head against an immigrants' rights activist or face off against a caller with an opposing viewpoint. This is odd considering the network and the show's stated aims.
The network states that it "does not endorse" any comments made by guests, and that hosts step in when callers make "ad hominem attacks or use indecent language or obviously racist language." Moreover, says C-SPAN, "[e]ach program strives to educate the viewing public about national issues and to learn from them." But how is airing the "heir apparent" to an "anti-immigration crusader," whose organizations have been accused of being "in bed with racist hate groups," educational or even helpful to understanding vital immigration policy?
NumbersUSA is a well-known anti-immigration organization that aims to reduce the overall numerical levels of annual legal and illegal immigration. The group was founded and funded by controversial activist John Tanton, "the anti-immigration crusader" who "spent decades at the heart of the white nationalist movement." According to The New York Times:
[Tanton] increasingly made his case against immigration in racial terms.
"One of my prime concerns," he wrote to a large donor, "is about the decline of folks who look like you and me." He warned a friend that "for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that."
Dr. Tanton acknowledged the shift from his earlier, colorblind arguments, but the "uncomfortable truth," he wrote, was that those arguments had failed. With a million or more immigrants coming each year -- perhaps a third illegally -- he warned, "The end may be nearer than we think."
Beck has tried to downplay his close relationship with Tanton, but he nevertheless has welcomed Tanton naming him the "heir apparent" to his vast right-wing, anti-immigration network. Moreover, Beck has spoken at a conference of Tanton's Social Contract Press, a pseudo academic outfit that, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, "routinely publishes race-baiting articles penned by white nationalists." Beck's views of immigrants are akin to Tanton's in that he doesn't think too highly of them. For instance, Beck has called them "thieves" because they "are people who came to steal a job."
From the June 10 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
Loading the player reg...
It turns out Sarah Palin knows even less about immigration than she does American history. During a recent interview with a New York news channel, Palin claimed that the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide a pathway to legal status for certain undocumented immigrants, "usurps ... the system." She further stated that the legislation perverts a legal system geared toward immigrants "who want to be here legally, working hard, producing and supplying revenue and resources for their family."
But if Palin, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012, had read even a few lines of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2011, she would realize how ridiculous her statement is. The DREAM Act -- which has been pending in Congress since 2001 -- was re-introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) on May 11 after it failed in the Senate in December 2010. And contrary to Palin's characterization, the bill in no way "usurps" the system as it seeks to remedy the status of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as babies and children, through no fault of their own.
In fact, the system that would be set up under the DREAM Act grants no special privileges to undocumented immigrants that citizens don't already enjoy. Indeed, it falls in line with exactly what Palin believes a legal immigration system should do: help immigrants who want to work hard and produce and supply revenue and resources for their families. To wit, from the Immigration Policy Center:
Research has shown that providing a legal status for young people who have a proven record of success in the United States would be a boon to the economy and the U.S. workforce. University presidents and educational associations, as well as military recruiters, business and religious leaders, have added their voice to those calling for passage of the bill. The DREAM Act will help boost the number of high-skilled American-raised workers. A 2010 study by the UCLA North American Integration and Development Center estimates that the total earnings of DREAM Act beneficiaries over the course of their working lives would be between $1.4 trillion and $3.6 trillion. Removing the uncertainty of undocumented status allows legalized immigrants to earn higher wages and move into higher-paying occupations, and also encourages them to invest more in their own education, open bank accounts, buy homes, and start businesses.
From the June 10 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
During the June 10 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, the co-hosts discussed Alabama's controversial new anti-immigrant law. During the segment, the loaded and misleading term "illegals" was aired in on-screen text:
On The O'Reilly Factor, Gretchen Carlson falsely claimed that "about 35 percent of the in-state tuition people or students" at University of California schools "were illegals." In fact, only 0.34 percent of undergraduates in the University of California system in the fall of 2008 were "potentially undocumented" students who received the in-state tuition rate.*
From the June 9 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
Loading the player reg...
The Center for Immigration Studies gave Tucson Weekly writer Leo W. Banks an award for "excellence in the coverage of immigration." However, in his writing, Banks has used dehumanizing and anti-immigrant language and has promoted the myth of extensive violence in United States along the border.
Less than week after fearmongering that if states stop participating in Secured Communities -- a federal deportation program begun under the Bush administration that may result in serial killers being on the loose -- Fox News was back at it, attacking states for not participating in the program.
On Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse claimed that states opting out of the Secure Communities program is "mutiny" and is "undermining" current federal policy "and the rule of law" at the behest of "the Latino lobby." La Jeunesse's report then got really muddled. While showing a graphic, he falsely asserted that immigrants identified by the Secured Communities program either "had existing criminal convictions" or were "typically arrested for misdemeanors."
LA JEUNESSE: Secured Communities -- the program is a cornerstone of the president's immigration policy, which says, for illegals here, you work hard, you keep your nose clean, you get to stay. You break the law, you go home. But now the Latino lobby is pushing back. And this mutiny by states like Illinois, New York, Massachusetts are undermining that policy and the rule of law.
Now under the program, a criminal's fingerprints are run, not just with the FBI, but also DHS. DHS ran about 8 million fingerprints. Some 500,000 of those were immigrants, mostly illegals. About 200,000 were scheduled to be deported. About three-quarters had existing criminal convictions from murder to shoplifting. The rest arrested for misdemeanors like driving without a license. Now it is this group, the final group that some are -- some states that is -- are refusing to turn over to the feds even though supporters say even non-felons can be dangerous.
In fact, as La Jeunesse himself acknowledged later in the report, 70 percent of undocumented immigrants processed through the Secure Communities program had been convicted of a crime -- whether a misdemeanor or a felony, meaning that 30 percent were not convicted of any crime.
Fox News' America Live repeated the accusation that undocumented immigrants have increased crime rates in Hazleton, Pennsylvannia. However, America Live failed to report that the there is no evidence supporting the accusation, or that there is no evidence that undocumented immigrants have higher crime rates nationwide.
Fox's supposedly "straight news" show, America's Newsroom, did a segment on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to hear a challenge to a California law that provides that students who attended California high school for at least three years and meet other requirements are eligible for in-state college tuition.
Anti-illegal immigration activists challenged the law in California courts, asserting that the statute conflicted with federal law because it did not have an exception barring illegal immigrants from receiving in-state tuition. The California Supreme Court upheld the law unanimously. The decision was written by Judge Ming W. Chin, who was appointed by former Republican Governor Pete Wilson (who was a strong supporter of the anti-illegal immigrant Proposition 187), and the opinion was joined by other Wilson appointees.
Anti-immigration activists were not satisfied, so they asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. The high court refused to hear the case without any justice publicly stating his or her disagreement with the court's action.
Although there is no way to know why the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, it would only take the votes of four justices (say Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito) to hear the case.
Case closed, right?
Not if you're Fox News. America's Newsroom spent a five minute segment hosting Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) to attack the law. In the middle of the segment, the guest co-host of this supposedly "straight news" program, Alisyn Camerota, said to Bilbray: "It seems as though this law is flawed in a few ways." A few minutes later, as the segment was drawing to a close: "Well look, you've obviously made a very compelling case for what is wrong with the law. So why did the Supreme Court then endorse it yesterday?"
The following on-screen graphic aired during the June 7 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
In an article on New York businesses that cater to new immigrant women from China who have recently given birth, The New York Times used the term "anchor babies" in referring to women who "come to the United States to give birth so that the children would be American citizens." The term "anchor babies" has been identified, among other things, as "derogatory," "racist," "ugly," and "derisive"; moreover, data show "anchor babies" to be a myth.