Fox News has repeatedly invoked the Boston bombings to suggest that immigration reform could exacerbate existing problems within the immigration system. However, their commentary actually highlights shortcomings that the bipartisan Senate bill will address in full.
Fox Uses Boston Bombings To Highlight Flaws In Immigration System
Center For Immigration Studies Fellow Michael Cutler: "Think About The National Security Nightmare" Immigration Reform Would Create. On the May 2 edition of Fox News' America Live, guest and Center for Immigration Studies fellow Michael Cutler conflated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program with the Senate immigration bill in a discussion on the visa status of the Boston bombing suspects. He then suggested that offering identity documents to undocumented immigrants will create a "national security nightmare":
CUTLER: At the root of it all is immigration. And what we're not doing, not just to secure our borders, which leak like a sieve, but the fact that we have over 5 million illegals in the country who violated the terms of their entry and you have a president saying, if you're here illegally, we want to give you lawful status. By the way, I just have to make the one point: Under this DREAM Act deal, they're not doing face-to-face interviews, but they're giving identity documents to aliens. We can't confirm when they got here or who they are. Think about the national security nightmare that creates. [Fox News, America Live, 5/2/13]
Steve Doocy: Boston Bombings Illustrate That "The [Immigration] System Is Broken." On the May 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy used the student visa status of one of the Boston bombing suspects to point out that "the [immigration] system is broken":
DOOCY: In particular, one of the kids who idolized him was one of the kids who was suggested to have went, got his backpack and secreted it someplace else. You know, it's interesting as you connect the dots and we try to figure out what to do with immigration in this country, is apparently that one of the kids was on a student visa but was not in school. And when he went away and then came back in, they let him in, because the system is broken. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/3/13]
Geraldo Rivera: Boston Bombings Slowing Down Immigration Reform "Has Happened Fairly." On the May 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News host Geraldo Rivera claimed that the Boston attacks have "fairly" slowed down immigration reform:
RIVERA: One of the things I lamented in the immediate aftermath of this bombing is my certain knowledge that what happened there was going to gum up what seemed like sure progress for the immigration reform bill. And sure enough, it has happened. Now has it happened fairly or unfairly? I have to admit that it has happened fairly in this regard, following up on what you just said about the kid overstaying the visa. There is clearly a problem with overstays. We have the classic image of the undocumented immigrant, a Mexican kid climbing over the wall or swimming across the Rio Grande. But as it turns out, 40 percent of the 11 million, according to the Wall Street Journal, aren't the southern border penetrators; they're people who come on a student visa or some other visa and then they never leave. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/3/13]
In Reality, Senate Immigration Reform Bill Will Tighten Security
Senate Immigration Bill Will Establish Mandatory Exit Data System. The Senate immigration bill, titled the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013," requires the implementation of a "mandatory exit data system" by the end of 2015:
SEC. 3303. MANDATORY EXIT SYSTEM.
ESTABLISHMENT.--Not later than December 31, 2015, the Secretary shall establish a mandatory exit data system that shall include a requirement for the collection of data from machine-readable visas, passports, and other travel and entry documents for all categories of aliens who are exiting from air and sea ports of entry. [Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, 4/16/13]
Sen. Graham: Entry/Exit Visa System Will Help "Find Some Terrorists In Our Midst." During the April 21 edition of CNN's State of the Union, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) explained that the Senate immigration bill will "fix" the system's failure to capture those who overstay their visas:
GRAHAM: I think now is the time to bring all the 11 million out of the shadows and find out who they are. Most of them are here to work, but we may find some terrorists in our midst who have been hiding in the shadows. When it comes to the entry/exit visa system. The 19 hijackers were all students who overstayed their visas and the system didn't capture that. We're going to fix that. In our bill when you come into the country, it goes into the system. And when your time to leave the country expires and you haven't left, law enforcement is notified. So we are addressing a broken immigration system. [CNN, State of the Union, 4/21/13]
DHS Sec. Napolitano: New Electronic Passport Processing Will Greatly Reduce Human Error. During an April 23 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration reform, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano argued that the immigration bill would address the human error that contributed to the Boston bombings. According to CBS News:
Napolitano said Tuesday that the FBI was alerted when Tamerlan Tsarnaev left the U.S. for Russia in 2011, despite the fact that his name was misspelled in one of his travel documents. But, she said, the "matter had been closed" by the time Tsarnaev returned and thus the FBI was not alerted to his reentry.
She argued, though, that the immigration bill would actually work to reduce human error and thus reinforce the strength of existing systems.
"The bill will help with this, because it requires that passports be electronically readable," Napolitano said. "It really does a good job of getting human error to the extent it exists out of the process." [CBS News, 4/23/13]