Gibson cited misleading Fox immigration poll question to understate support for path to citizenship
Research ››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER
Fox News' John Gibson cited a misleading poll question that asked respondents "how they felt when they saw" the May 1 nationwide "A Day Without Immigrants" demonstrations against proposed laws that would criminalize illegal immigrants. Gibson claimed that the poll found that "[a]bout two-thirds made them think we need better security at our borders. Only 21 percent thought we should make illegals U.S. citizens." But the question falsely suggests that enhancing border security and granting legal status to undocumented workers are mutually exclusive. Polls have consistently shown that a majority of Americans favored legalizing undocumented immigrants, a view that one poll reported was unaffected by the demonstrations.
On the May 4 edition of Fox News' The Big Story, host John Gibson cited a misleading Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll question in understating the level of public support for granting illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. Citing a question that asked respondents "how they felt when they saw" the May 1 nationwide "A Day Without Immigrants" demonstrations against proposed laws that would criminalize illegal immigrants, Gibson claimed that the poll found that "[a]bout two-thirds made them think we need better security at our borders. Only 21 percent thought we should make illegals U.S. citizens." But the question falsely suggests that enhancing border security and granting legal status to undocumented workers are mutually exclusive. Gibson neglected to mention that polls have consistently shown that a majority of Americans favored legalizing undocumented immigrants before the protests, as Media Matters for America has noted, or that one poll taken after the May 1 demonstrations found that this majority has remained unchanged.
The question Gibson cited is the only one in the Fox News poll that addresses the recent debate on immigration. It minimizes the number of Americans who support legalization of illegal immigrants by asking those polled to choose between border enforcement and giving rights to illegal immigrants, based on their reactions to the May 1 protests. By contrast, a May 3 Rasmussen Reports poll found that "[n]ationwide rallies, protests, and boycotts on Monday [May 1] had little if any impact on public opinion." It found that "[s]upport for an enforcement first policy was 67% before the marches, 66% after," and "[s]upport for Earned Citizenship was 53% on the first survey and 53% on the follow-up."
Moreover, Media Matters has recently cited numerous polling to illustrate that a majority of Americans support granting undocumented immigrants legal status in the United States:
- An April 21-24 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll asked: "If you had to make a choice, would you favor deporting immigrants in America who are not legal citizens and do not have work permits, or would you favor allowing these immigrants to stay in America as long as they pass a security check, meet certain conditions, and pay taxes?" Sixty-one percent of those polled favored allowing them to stay while 35 percent favored deportation.
- An April 7-16 Pew Research Center poll found that 58 percent of those asked favored a proposal that would allow undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for several years to gain legal working status and the possibility of citizenship in the future. Thirty-five percent opposed.
- According to an April 8-11 Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll, 54 percent of those polled would support a temporary guest worker program that provides a path to permanent resident status if certain requirements are met. Twenty-one percent opposed such a program.
- An April 7-9 USA Today/Gallup poll found that 63 percent of respondents favored allowing "illegal immigrants to remain in the United States and become U.S. citizens, but only if they meet certain requirements over a period of time," while 17 percent said they would favor granting temporary status to illegal workers. Eighteen percent favored deporting all illegal immigrants back to their home countries.
- An April 6-9 Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that 63 percent of respondents said they would prefer to "[l]et immigrants who have lived here a certain number of years apply for legal status and eventually become permanent citizens if they meet specific conditions, like paying a fine and back taxes." Twenty percent said they would prefer to "[d]eclare all illegal immigrants to be felons and not allow them to work here legally," and 14 percent stated a preference for letting illegal immigrants "pay a fee and work here for a limited number of years after which they'd have to leave the country.
From the May 4 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson:
GIBSON: The hundreds of thousands of illegals who walked off their jobs and protested this week are feeling the backlash days later. The latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll asked Americans how they felt when they saw Monday's walkout. About two-thirds say it made them think we need better security at our borders. Only 21 percent thought we should make illegals U.S. citizens. Joining us now a person who is part of that majority. Michelle Dallacroce is founder against Mothers Against Illegal Aliens. And Michelle --
DALLACROCE: Thank you for having me.
GIBSON: There's Michelle there, OK.