Issues ››› Immigration
  • Wash. Post: GOP's 2016 Platform Relinquishes Its 2013 Autopsy Report

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS

    A Washington Post article notes that the 2016 GOP platform -- which includes “language to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border” -- “is a far cry” from the 2013 autopsy that sought more inclusivity beyond “the GOP’s traditional base.”

    After its defeat in the 2012 presidential elections, the Republican Party laid out a pro-inclusivity strategy in what became known as the “autopsy” report --a strategy that ran counter to the anti-immigrant vitriol regularly spewed by right-wing media. The anti-immigrant tone and extremism of the 2016 Republican presidential campaign ultimately demonstrated that the GOP would rather side with right-wing media over the party’s own goals, even if by doing so they contradict the will of a majority of the electorate and most of the GOP itself.

    In a July 14 piece, the Post’s Dan Balz noted that by “including language to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border” the GOP is sending “a loud and clear message to the Hispanic community that is the opposite of what the 2013 RNC-sponsored autopsy report proposed,” and combined with Trump’s “harsh talk about Mexicans” has moved further from “meaningful outreach to Hispanics.” From the July 14 article:

    As they worked through the language of their 2016 platform, delegates to the Republican National Convention commented over and over that this was to be seen as a marketing document designed to sell their party. What they produced is a far cry from what the party establishment thought was needed only a few years ago.

    The platform that emerged over several days of deliberations here this week reinforced some of the party’s most conservative planks, rejected efforts to appeal forcefully beyond the GOP’s traditional base and, to the extent that it reflects the thinking of Donald Trump, is most noteworthy for including language to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.


    The 2016 platform turns much of what was recommended in the autopsy document on its head. Rather than reaching out, it draws the party inward, particularly on immigration and social and cultural issues.

    Trump’s wall sends a loud and clear message to the Hispanic community that is the opposite of what the 2013 RNC-sponsored autopsy report proposed. That report called for enactment of comprehensive immigration reform.

    The possibility of enacting comprehensive reform, though still favored by some Republicans, died long before the 2016 campaign began. But in the presidential campaign, Trump, with his harsh talk about Mexicans and his determination to erect a border wall, moved the party ever farther from meaningful outreach to Hispanics.

    By inscribing Trump’s proposal in the party platform, the party has acknowledged the strength of his core appeal as a candidate. But it also has taken the risk of building a rhetorical and policy wall between the GOP and the Latino community that could last for years. A newly released Univision survey shows Trump with the support of just 19 percent of Hispanic voters, lower even than the 27 percent Romney won in 2012.

  • Hannity Uses Attack In France To Push Muslim “No-Go Zones” Myth That Fox Previously Apologized For

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News host Sean Hannity, in the aftermath of an apparent terrorist attack that killed at least 77 in Nice, France, claimed that “no-go zones actually do exist in France,” where only Muslims are allowed and the government has no control.

    In January 2015, after Steve Emerson claimed on Fox News that there are parts of France and England “where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in,” two different Fox hosts apologized for letting the lie go unchallenged on their network, with Julie Banderas saying there is “no credible information to support the assertion there are specific areas in these countries that exclude individuals based solely on their religion.” British Prime Minister David Cameron called Emerson a “complete idiot” after he heard of the claim. From the July 14 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Many of the topics we've been discussing this presidential election season, immigration, Donald Trump talking about at least a temporary ban on people coming from countries that practice Sharia law. We have -- we watched the Islamization of Europe, and I've discussed it at length on this program and on my radio program. You know, for example, most people don't know that Great Britain has 88 Sharia courts or that no-go zones actually do exist in France. I know because I've covered it here on this program.

  • After Attack In France, Fox’s Van Susteren Allows Trump To Attack Obama With Lies  

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    After news broke of a possible terror attack in Nice, France, Fox News hosted Donald Trump for a phone interview in which host Greta Van Susteren allowed him to attack President Obama and Hillary Clinton with debunked lies about refugees fleeing the war-torn Middle East.

    At 5:44 PM ET time, Fox News reported a large truck had been driven through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, killing dozens.

    At 7:20 PM ET time Donald Trump phoned into live coverage of the attack on Fox News. During the interview, Van Susteren allowed him to use falsehoods about Syrian refugees entering the United States to attack Obama and Clinton. 

    DONALD TRUMP: Hillary Clinton wants to allow 550 percent more than Obama and Obama is allowing a lot of people to come in. We have no idea who they are. They are from Syria, maybe. But they have no paperwork many times. They don't have documentation proper. I would make it -- I would not allow people to come in from terrorist nations. I would do extreme vetting. I would call it extreme vetting, too. And, you know, our country has tremendous problems. We don't need any more of the problems. Right now we have more investigations of this kind going on than we have ever had in the history of our country and we are going to allow thousands and tens of thousands of more people coming.

    Trump’s attack on Obama and Clinton over the refugee vetting process has been debunked numerous times, with PolitiFact writing:

    The vetting begins with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee, which determines who counts as a refugee, who should be resettled (about 1 percent) and which countries would take them. This alone can take four to 10 months.

    If the UNHCR refers refugees to the United States, they then face scrutiny from federal intelligence and security agencies.

    Their names, biographical information and fingerprints are run through federal terrorism and criminal databases. Meanwhile, the refugees are interviewed by Department of Homeland Security officials. If approved, they then undergo a medical screening, a match with sponsor agencies, "cultural orientation" classes and one final security clearance.

    Syrian refugees in particular must clear one additional hurdle. Their documents are placed under extra scrutiny and cross-referenced with classified and unclassified information.

    The process typically takes one to two years or longer and happens before a refuge ever steps onto American soil. Ultimately, says the State Department, about half are approved, and there’s no real precedent of a terrorist slipping in through the vetting system.

  • Univision Explains Why Potential VP Pick Gingrich's Record On Immigration Might Do Nothing To Help Trump With Latinos

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Amid speculation that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is among presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s top choices for vice president, Univision News explained that Gingrich is unlikely to to "help rescue votes" from those disgruntled by Trump, including Latinos, because Gingrich’s immigration plans haven’t been “well-received by the immigrant community” in the past.

    Trump, whose anti-immigrant rhetoric has made him extremely unpopular with Latino voters, is rumored to be considering Gingrich as his pick for vice president, a potential outcome championed by many Fox News personalities. Univision News pointed out that one flaw with a possible Gingrich vice presidency is that Gingrich wouldn’t necessarily help solve Trump’s Latino problem due to his controversial past proposals on immigration.

    According to Univision News, the immigrant community didn’t receive Gingrich’s 2012 plans to reform immigration well because it included “setting up citizen committees, similar to World War II-era draft boards” to determine who among the undocumented “should become a resident.” It didn’t extend a pathway to citizenship, required the newly minted residents to “pay for their own health insurance” and only included “the undocumented immigrants left out of President Ronald Reagan's 1986 amnesty.” Gingrich was also in favor of a “federal registration system for immigrants, which he compared to a FedEx tracking system.” From the July 13 Univision News article:

    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is one of several potential candidates for Donald Trump's vice presidential pick, which the presumptive Republican nominee will announce Friday.

    But it’s unclear whether Gingrich, a more measured and experienced politician, can help rescue votes from those who are most disgruntled by Trump.


    When Gingrich ran for president in 2012, his campaign sought to promote policies that allowed more Latinos to "achieve the American dream" and permitted more Latinos to assume leadership positions.

    That year, Gingrich criticized President Barack Obama's failure to pass immigration reform and promised to address immigration on a platform that included security measures, employment verification, and swift deportations of criminals. He launched a site in Spanish and wrote columns for Spanish-language newspapers. In fact, he studies and speaks Spanish, a language Trump has shunned during his campaign.

    But Gingrich's 2012 immigration reform plan wasn't well-received by the immigrant community.

    He proposed giving residency to undocumented immigrants who'd been in the United States for at least 25 years and had no criminal record. And most controversially, he suggested setting up citizen committees, similar to World War II-era draft boards, to decide who should become a resident, based on merit. The new legal residents wouldn't have a path to citizenship, and would have to pay for their own health insurance.

    The plan aimed to legalize only the undocumented immigrants left out of President Ronald Reagan's 1986 amnesty that gave residency to three million immigrants, the majority of them Mexican.

    During his campaign, Gingrich also proposed a federal registration system for immigrants, which he compared to a FedEx tracking system, much like Christie did during his unsuccessful presidential bid.

    Gingrich’s problems with the Latino community aren’t limited solely to his position on immigration, his record also includes spewing racially charged comments against President Obama, referring to Justice Sonia Sotomayor -- a prominent figure in the Latino community -- as “racist,” and describing bilingual education as teaching “the language of living in a ghetto. Gingrich’s ambiguous stance on combating climate change -- which he defended before he opposed -- could also be an issue that would push away Hispanics, who overwhelmingly favor government action against climate change.

  • CNN Lets Paul Ryan Push Discredited "Welfare Cliff" Myth During Town Hall Event

    Ryan Hypes Right-Wing Media Fiction About “Benefit Cliffs” As “The Core” Of His Anti-Poverty Agenda

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    CNN allowed Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) to use a town hall event to promote his widely criticized “Better Way” poverty reform agenda unchallenged, including the discredited “welfare cliff” myth long promoted by right-wing media.

    A member of the audience -- a Catholic priest and registered Republican -- asked Ryan what plans he had “to meet the basic human needs of the poor in this country, even if they’re here illegally,” during a July 12 town hall hosted by CNN’s Jake Tapper. The questioner juxtaposed the moral imperative to serve individuals “as human beings” without asking them “for their documentation” with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “inhumane” stance on immigration.

    Ryan’s initial response was littered with right-wing media talking points about President Obama’s supposed unwillingness to “secure the border” in order to fix the country’s “broken immigration system.” Ryan’s response then shifted to a supposed solution to poverty, which was also focused on myths frequently trumpeted by right-wing media, including how welfare “benefit cliffs” trap recipients in poverty. Ryan incorrectly claimed that the government’s “current approach” to poverty actually “perpetuates” it, and suggested that a “single mom with two kids” earning roughly $24,000 per year (barely above the federal poverty threshold) would rather live in poverty than get a raise “because of all the benefits she [would lose]” (emphasis added):

    PAUL RYAN: Let me get to the poverty point you mentioned. Please take a look at our agenda. This is one of the most important reforms that I think we’re offering. Which is a better way to solve poverty -- “A Better Way To Fight Poverty.” Go to -- is where we’ve released our agenda. I spent the last four years going around this country visiting with poor communities, learning about the poor, and the suffering, and better ideas for fighting poverty. We’ve put in a very aggressive plan to go at the root causes of poverty, to try and break the cycle of poverty, and I would argue our current approach at the government of fighting poverty treats symptoms of poverty, which perpetuates poverty.

    Our welfare system replaces work. It doesn't incentivize work. And as a result, we are trapping people in poverty. It's not working. So we think that there's a better way of reigniting what I call upward mobility, the American idea, and getting people out of poverty. Please take a look at these ideas. We have lots of them. I’d love to get into it if you give me time. But this is one of the things that we are talking about. Engaging with our fellow citizens, especially those who have slipped through the cracks, especially those that have no hope, that we have better ideas for helping them get back on their feet and converting our welfare system not into a poverty trap, but a place to get people from welfare to work.

    JAKE TAPPER (HOST): Give me one idea. One poverty idea.

    RYAN: Benefit cliffs. Right now, you stack all these welfare programs on top of each other and it basically pays people not to work. So you know who the highest tax rate payer (sic)? It’s not Anderson Cooper or Jake Tapper; it is the single mom with two kids making maybe -- earning $24,000, who will lose 80 cents on the dollar by taking a job or getting a raise because of all the benefits she loses. So, what happens is, we disincentivize work. We need to taper those benefits cliffs, customize welfare benefits to a person’s particular needs, and encourage work. So, you’ve got so much time to get these benefits, you have to have work requirements or job training requirements. Customize benefits to help a person with their problem. Whether it's addiction, whether it's education, or transportation.

    Catholic Charities, by the way, is the model that I'm talking about. This is basically the Catholic Charities model. Customize support to a person and always make work pay. Make sure that you take the principles that we’ve used for welfare reform in the '90s, which are no longer really working or in place these days, to get people from welfare to work. And that's the core of what we are proposing.

    The term "welfare cliff" was popularized by Pennsylvania's Republican-appointed Secretary of Public Welfare in a July 2012 report, which claimed a "single mom" could nearly double her net income by taking full advantage of nine distinct anti-poverty programs. But the concept of a trade-off between welfare and work dates back to a flawed Cato Institute study from 1995. One thing these studies have in common is the base calculation of benefits available to a hypothetical "single mom" with children. Most American workers aren't single mothers, most recipients of government benefits don't enroll in every single available program, and the value of federal benefit programs like welfare is less now than it was in years past -- facts that are not acknowledged in right-wing media discussions of anti-poverty programs.

    Right-wing media outlets have repeatedly promoted the fantasy that low-income Americans would rather live in poverty than risk losing supposedly generous government benefits, and Paul Ryan is known for loyally parroting right-wing talking points about poverty. In fact, Ryan’s entire “Better Way” anti-poverty agenda for 2016 is built on right-wing media myths, including the so-called “benefit cliff” talking point. Journalists and experts slammed Ryan’s poverty plan, calling it a “seriously flawed” approach “based on faulty assumptions,” and concluding it is seemingly “designed to make it much harder for people in need” to access poverty alleviation programs. The same was true of his much-heralded 2014 anti-poverty plan. Ryan is right that there is a better way to fight poverty, but research by actual economists points to a reform agenda more like the factually based plan put forward by the Center for American Progress than the rehashing of right-wing myths endorsed by Ryan.

    View the full exchange on poverty and immigration from CNN’s House Speaker Paul Ryan Town Hall:

  • Hispanic Media Silent On Dangerous Bills Targeting Undocumented Immigrants

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Major Hispanic media news shows were silent on the Senate’s anticipated vote on two Republican-sponsored bills that could present a threat to undocumented immigrants. The proposed measures -- Kate’s Law and the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act -- echo anti-immigrant talking points previously spewed by conservative media, which paint undocumented immigrants as violent criminals and sanctuary cities as places that foster violent crime.

    The July 5 editions of some of the most highly viewed Hispanic media news shows -- Univision’s Noticiero Univision, Univision’s Noticiero Univision: Edición Nocturna, and Telemundo’s Noticiero Telemundo -- failed to report on the Senate’s vote on these bills, scheduled for July 6. Both bills, which failed to pass in the Senate, presented serious threats to undocumented immigrants and could in fact undermine crime deterrence capacities in some cities. 

    Senate Bill 2193, dubbed Kate’s Law by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, proposed a mandatory minimum prison sentence on undocumented immigrants attempting to re-enter the country. The Fox News host devoted plenty of airtime to fearmongering about undocumented immigrants and repeatedly lobbied to advance the bill through the legislative process. From the June 30 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

    Similarly, conservative news outlets hyped the need to pass Sen. Pat Toomey’s Senate Bill 3100, the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, which would have cut federal funding to “sanctuary cities,” or cities that do not necessarily report undocumented immigrants to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency if they have not committed a serious crime.

    But both bills would have had negative consequences for human rights and the federal budget. The Daily Beast said Kate’s Law “might do more harm than good” by potentially undoing previous successes in criminal justice reform and increasing America’s overlarge prison population. The Atlantic reported last year that the impact of Kate’s Law would be “dramatic,” and “cost the U.S. Bureau of Prisons an estimated $2 billion per year,” similarly noting that it would be counterintuitive to attempts to reform mass incarceration.

    Additionally, the basis for the failed Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act was that “sanctuary cities” threaten public safety, yet the American Immigration Lawyers Association and California’s attorney general have both argued that defunding “sanctuary cities” would not hurt public safety and that these types of cities might actually deter crime.

  • Media’s Recent Stereotype That Hispanics Are Ready-Made Republicans Not Borne Out By Facts

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    When covering the Latino vote, media figures -- including Univision’s Jorge Ramos -- have been helping conservatives push the myth that Latinos are ready-made Republicans, but this fiction cannot be backed by data.

    Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, with the help of media, has baselessly tried to paint himself as “number one with Hispanics” -- yet data consistently shows that’s “simply not true.” National outlets like The Wall Street Journal have allowed representatives from the right-wing, Koch-funded Libre Initiative to erroneously suggest Latinos are becoming more conservative.

    On the July 3 edition of Univision’s Al Punto, anchor Jorge Ramos introduced conservative guest Lionel Sosa as a Republican “communication adviser who has better understood that Latinos share a lot of values with Republicans.” Sosa, who recently publicly renounced the Republican Party in protest of the likely presidential nomination of Donald Trump, said Latinos are people “with conservative values.” He added, after being prompted by Ramos, that Reagan had told him that “Latinos are Republicans but they just don’t know it yet,” and said that because Latinos “have conservative values” like believing strongly in family and God, they are a natural fit with the Republican Party.


    Translated transcript:

    JORGE RAMOS (HOST): Lionel Sosa is quite the legend. For decades he’s helped Republican presidential candidates take the White House. That’s what he did with Ronald Reagan and with both Bush presidents. He is, without exaggerating, one of the communications advisers who has best understood that Latinos share a lot of values with Republicans, but now he’s decided to not support Donald Trump. Lionel joins us via satellite from San Antonio. Lionel Sosa, thank you so much for speaking with us from San Antonio.

    LIONEL SOSA: Good morning, Jorge. A pleasure to be with you.


    RAMOS: Part of the story, Lionel, is it true that President Ronald Reagan told you that he knew that Hispanics are really Republican, but that they just didn’t know it -- that’s a historical phrase -- but did Ronald Reagan tell that to you?

    SOSA: Ronald Reagan told me that --

    RAMOS: What did he tell you?

    SOSA: When I met him -- he told me, “Look, Latinos are Republican but they don’t know they are Republican.” See, and I’ll tell you why. Because Latinos have conservative values like the Republican Party. Latinos don’t want to be given stuff, they want to be placed where there is stuff. Latinos want opportunities, Latinos are smart. We don’t have to be a government that gives like this and that because we don’t know how to work. We know how to work. We believe in family, we believe in God, we believe in being responsible for the things we do. Those are conservative values and those are the values of Latinos and the Republican Party. So when he told me this, it gave me the idea to work the campaigns of other presidents under that philosophy.  

    This isn’t the first time Ramos has misrepresented the Latino vote -- He previously (incorrectly) suggested that if not for the single issue of immigration, Hispanics would support conservative platforms. On another occasion, he agreed with Helen Aguirre Ferré when she charged that Hispanic views on the economy and family align with Republicans. But the idea that Latinos are really Republicans is not backed up by data.

    Polling from Pew shows that immigration is not the only issue keeping Latinos from voting for conservative candidates, as more than half say they would support a candidate who disagrees with them on immigration “if that candidate agrees with them on most other issues.” Pew has also found that Latino voters rank education, health care, jobs, and the economy as more important than immigration, which demonstrates that the electorate's concerns are much more complex than what the media often paints them out to be.

    A majority of Latinos support marriage equality, a position that a majority of Republicans reject. And Latinos are also at odds with the GOP when it comes to supporting action on climate change and gun safety policies.

    Moreover, recent data contradicts the opinion that the deeply held religious beliefs of Latinos (more than half of whom are Catholic) make them lean Republican because of “presumed conservative views on abortion,” showing that close to three-quarters of Latinas lean Democrat and 63 percent would back candidates who would “protect abortion rights”:

  • What Attacks On Bilingual Education Get Wrong

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham has spent months repeatedly issuing xenophobic rants against the perceived dangers of bilingual education in U.S. schools, asserting that teaching students in more than one language -- in particular immigrant students whose home language is Spanish -- somehow contributes to a decline in school quality at a high cost. But Ingraham’s claims about dual-language learning ignore the wide body of research showing that fostering bilingualism and multilingualism in schools and teaching students in their home language as well as English can have lasting positive impacts for individuals and for the economy.