KCOL's Fallen misled on current, proposed immigration law

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Discussing immigration reform legislation, Gail Fallen of Fox News Radio 600 KCOL suggested on a recent broadcast that such a measure was unnecessary, asserting that the immigration system is not "broken," but "simply needs to be enforced." However, a White House fact sheet on a proposed immigration bill states, "Only enforcing our ineffective current law leaves the nation vulnerable."

Discussing a June 22 USA Today guest column by U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) that misleadingly claimed "all of the security benchmarks in the current Senate [immigration] bill are already law," Fox News Radio 600 KCOL co-host Gail Fallen asserted that the immigration system is not "broken," but "simply needs to be enforced." In fact, a June 25 White House fact sheet provides numerous specific examples of how the legislation would "strengthen" what it characterizes as "Our Ineffective And Insufficient" immigration laws.

From the June 25 broadcast of Fox News Radio 600 KCOL's Mornings with Keith and Gail!:

KEITH WEINMAN (co-host): There was a piece in USA Today over the weekend written by Senator Jim DeMint, a Republican from South Carolina, said every single thing that this bill would accomplish already exists in law that has been ignored by this nation since 1986.

FALLEN: Well, that's why, that's why I go ballistic every single time I hear about the quote "broken system of immigration." "The immigration system is broken." No, it's not. It simply needs to be enforced.

Legislation originally introduced as Senate Bill 1348 was being considered under an amendment that would substitute for the entire bill, Senate Amendment 1150. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) withdrew the entire bill from consideration on June 7. The Senate on June 26 voted to resume debate on the measure, which was introduced as Senate Bill 1639.

In his guest column, "We won't be fooled again," DeMint wrote: "We do not need the Senate immigration bill to secure the border. Congress has already passed laws authorizing border security, but the Homeland Security Department has failed to fully implement them. ... Essentially, all of the security benchmarks in the current Senate bill are already law."

The White House fact sheet, however, features a side-by-side comparison of current law and the Senate proposal detailing the enforcement changes that would take place if the immigration legislation were to pass. Titled "Only Enforcing Our Ineffective Current Law Leaves the Nation Vulnerable," the fact sheet notes that "[t]he maximum criminal fine for employers repeatedly engaged in hiring illegal workers" is currently $3,000 per illegal immigrant; the fine would be $75,000 per illegal immigrant under the new legislation. It also notes that "the bill provides $4.4 billion in immediate additional funding for securing our borders and enforcing our laws at the worksite." Other differences between current law and the proposed legislation, according to the White House:

Current Law

If Bipartisan Immigration Reform Bill Is Passed

Immigrants caught crossing the border illegally may reenter the country legally as soon as 10 years after the offense.

The crime of illegal entry is a misdemeanor for the first offense, subject to a maximum sentence of only six months, even for aliens with serious criminal records.

There is no mandatory minimum for illegally reentering the United States after having already been removed.

Immigrants caught crossing the border illegally after the new law passes will be permanently barred from receiving work or tourist visas from the U.S.

The crime of illegal entry will be punishable by sentences of up to 20 years, depending on the person's criminal history.

There is a mandatory minimum of 60 days for illegal reentry, with higher mandatory minimums of a year or more for criminal aliens who illegally reenter the United States.

Dangerous criminal aliens who cannot be removed from the U.S. because no other country is willing to accept them must be released into society after just six months.

The government will be given authority to detain dangerous criminal aliens as long as it takes to deport them.

There is no legal basis for the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to deny admission to aliens solely on the basis of their participation in a criminal gang.

The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security will be given new authority to deny admission to or remove aliens solely based on their participation in a criminal gang.

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