KHOW's Silverman uncritically allowed Tancredo to repeat misleading statements on immigrant assimilation


During a discussion about immigration, co-host Craig Silverman of 630 KHOW-AM and guest co-host Scott McInnis failed to challenge the claim of their guest, U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R), that "one part [of American society] speaks one language" and "another part speaks a totally different language," indicating that "assimilation is not occurring." Silverman and McInnis omitted that among Hispanics, whom Tancredo has targeted in the past, research shows English to be the dominant language for a large majority of third-generation immigrants.

Responding to guest co-host and former Republican U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis' statement that "we have such a large concentration" of immigrants "from one country" and "there's no one pushing for assimilation," U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R) asserted on the June 30 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show that "one part [of American society] speaks one language and another part speaks a totally different language." Tancredo added, "And so, that is an indicator that assimilation is not occurring." In fact, as Colorado Media Matters noted after Tancredo made similar comments about Hispanic immigrants May 20 on KHOW's The Peter Boyles Show, research indicates that a large majority of third-generation Hispanic-Americans report using English as their dominant language.

From the June 30 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show:

McINNIS: Tom, I'd like to just mention here real briefly, Congressman, and Craig -- I read an interesting article about kind of the history. You know, we've granted amnesty before.


McINNIS: And every time we've granted it, it does not resolve the problem. All it did is let people cut into the theater line, so to speak, obtain the rights of privilege, and cut out people that were still in line because there weren't enough seats. So to speak. But it certainly parlays us, or takes us to the next level of concern, and that is the lack of assimilation into the society.


McINNIS: The key to the immigration is that you have assimilation, you know, into a society. Now, around 1912 or so we, in effect, closed our borders for about 20 or 25 years, and the result of that, kind of an unintended consequence, was a positive consequence, was that that large number of people we had that came in had time to assimilate into the society. Now, today's numbers proportionally are not higher than in the past; what we do have that's different today is we have such a large concentration from one country. And Tom, the big thing when I talk to people out there, their biggest concern is, there's no -- everybody's trying to be politically correct and there's no one pushing for assimilation. There's no one -- of course, you are. But I mean, there's not a big voice out there unified across the country saying, "Hey, if you want to belong to the club, you've gotta be under this flag, under this country, under these principles."

TANCREDO: We have had immigration into this country, of course, for a couple hundred years, and the fact is, in the last hundred or so it's been high peaks and low valleys. It's been a significant sort of oscillating pattern of immigration, where we've got lots of people coming at certain periods of time and then very few for other periods of time, and we always use those valleys, if you will, to assimilate the people who came here. Now, I mean, I say we; we didn't have a, necessarily have a program to do it. But it was a numbers game, no matter what. My grandparents, if they had wanted to stay separate from American society, eventually it overwhelmed them. But it's certainly not happening anymore; assimilation is not occurring; we are looking at bilingualization of the society, and unfortunately, worse than just a bilingual society, we're looking at one where one part speaks one language and another part speaks a totally different language. And so, that is an indicator that assimilation is not occurring. And believe me, without assimilation, our task as a nation to address the problems we confront is made 10,000 times more difficult. And made more difficult, by the way, when you start pandering to groups because of the color of their skin. I dislike intensely the idea that there are congressional districts that are created simply for, you know, to make sure a black person is elected, just as much as I would hate it if it was directed, I mean created, just so a white person was elected.

SILVERMAN: Hey, Congressman, I hope your time's good, 'cause I want to talk to you about the politics of this. Because --


SILVERMAN: -- this has the potential of creating a permanent majority, probably for the Democrats, and even though I'm a Democrat, I don't think that would be good for the country; I see a lot of politics involved here. And what would it look like under John McCain, what would it look like under Barack Obama? The subject: illegal immigration. We have full lines; but with Scott McInnis, Tom Tancredo, and mouthy me.

In failing to challenge Tancredo's remarks about the "bilingualization of the society," McInnis and co-host Craig Silverman did not acknowledge March 2007 research published by the American Political Science Association showing that among third-generation Hispanic-Americans over age 18, 71 percent report using English as their dominant language and only 2 percent spoke primarily Spanish, with the remaining 27 percent reportedly bilingual in English and Spanish.

Similarly, Silverman and McInnis did not acknowledge the findings in a November 2007 report of the Pew Hispanic Center that while "fewer than one-in-four (23%) Latino immigrants reports being able to speak English very well," the number jumps to "fully 88% of their U.S.-born adult children," and "[a]mong later generations of Hispanic adults, the figure rises to 94%."

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