Geraldo Rivera can sometimes seem the lone voice of reason on Fox News. On a network that is always too quick to embrace anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, or even anti-Obama talking points, Rivera often duels with and mocks hosts who see nothing wrong with pushing certain conservative views. A recent example involves the right-wing meme that President Obama was ignoring events in Japan and Libya to focus on his golfing and NCAA brackets. And on immigration issues, Rivera is usually the one on Fox who slaps down the scapegoating and the dehumanization of immigrants that goes on within right-wing media circles.
But on Fox News' America's Newsroom today, Rivera outrageously claimed that immigrant women are using rape allegations as a "new immigration racket" to stay in the country. He provided no evidence for this claim save the "very quick story" of a friend to illustrate his point.
Discussing new developments in the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund who is facing several charges that include attempted rape, Rivera asserted that the case will "be dismissed" and that prosecutors are "trying to scramble to get him to plead guilty to some low-level misdemeanor 'cause clearly he had sex with this woman."
RIVERA: Let me tell you a very quick story, Greg [Jarrett]. I got a buddy, lives in the West Coast, he had a bride from overseas who was an immigrant here, without documentation, suddenly, she alleges that my buddy was guilty of some kind of physical abuse. Turns out, that if you say, if you're an immigrant here, if you're a female and you claim an allegation of sex abuse, you can't be deported until the case is litigated.
It turns out that this is the new immigration racquet -- that there are women who, you know, say they were raped or say they were abused by their American husbands; they then stay here despite their immigration status until the case is resolved. Oft-times they have settlements with these hapless men, they get their houses.
I think that this is a classic case. This domestic employee there, at the hotel, she sought asylum claiming a rape charge, typical of the scenario, this immigration scam that they pull.
Rivera added: "I think this whole thing's a scam. I think the NYPD is very embarrassed by their rush to perp-walk this guy. Now they're trying to scramble to save some face."
Rivera was referring to protections for victims of sexual and domestic violence found in the Violence Against Women Act and a section in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) guidebook. According to the CIS guidebook, victims who can show that they "have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the crime and are willing to help law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity" are eligible to apply for a nonimmigrant visa. Battered spouse and children of American citizens or permanent residents, and the parent of children who have been abused can similarly petition for an immigrant visa under the Violence against Women Act.
These protections are extremely important. Otherwise, undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual slavery (all crimes that happen behind closed doors) will not report the crimes against them to authorities for fear of deportation. Indeed, their attackers may use their immigrant status as a threat to force them to remain in brutal circumstances.
Sadly, attacks by the media on women who have reported being sexually assaulted are not new. But Rivera did more than merely attack the victim here; he used this opportunity to dismiss all instances in which immigrant women are the victims of rape as "a scam," further claiming that these are plots by greedy women to steal from "hapless" American men. And he pushed these offensive claims based on nothing but one story. Rape is a serious and horrific crime made even worse by denying it or condemning the victim.