Immigration Policy Change Spurs Bogus Cries Of "Amnesty" From Conservative Media

››› ››› MIKE BURNS

Right-wing media have attacked the Obama administration's policy change allowing some young undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States as "amnesty." In fact, the policy change is not amnesty, a term shown to produce negative reactions, but deferred action that only lasts for up to two years, subject to renewal.

Right-Wing Media Decry Immigration Policy Change As "Amnesty"

Free Beacon: "Big Sis Announces Back-Door Amnesty Policy In Election-Year Power Play." From a June 15 Washington Free Beacon article headlined "Big Sis Announces Back-Door Amnesty Policy In Election-Year Power Play":

President Obama announced Friday a de facto amnesty for a large class of illegal immigrants, the Associated Press reports:

The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.

The policy change, described to The Associated Press by two senior administration officials, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It also bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who have attended college or served in the military.

The reaction on Twitter ranged from shock to cynicism and mockery. [The Washington Free Beacon, 6/15/12]

Drudge Report: "Amnesty For As Many As 800k." The Drudge Report linked to an Associated Press article on the immigration policy change under the headline "Amnesty for as many as 800k..." From the Drudge Report:

drudge

[Drudge Report, 6/15/12]

Limbaugh: Immigration Policy Change "Grant[s] Amnesty To Young Illegals." From the June 15 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: I warned everybody of this. Let's go back to July 30, two years ago almost. Two years ago on this program. This is what said I.

LIMBAUGH [audio clip]: The issue here is the dictatorial nature of this regime and his willingness to do anything to advance his agenda. They are looking at ways to grant amnesty en masse without legislation if they can't get it done. And they've been caught, memo's been seen, and now they're, Oh, no, no, no. We would never. We would never. They're looking at it, and that's the point. They're looking at it. And if they could find a way to do it, they can find a way to do it, who knows? With this bunch you just don't know. And you have to assume based on everything else we've seen them do that they would do it.

LIMBAUGH: And we were talking there about a Washington Times story reported on a memo that said the regime was looking at ways to do what they did today: grant amnesty to young illegals. And I warned everybody back on July 30th of 2010 that they would do it if they could figure out a way. And the way they figured it out is -- well it's what Rubio wants to do. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/15/12, via Media Matters]

Fox Contributor Tammy Bruce Repeatedly Calls Immigration Policy Change "Amnesty." From Fox News contributor and conservative radio host Tammy Bruce's Twitter feed:

bruce

[Twitter, 6/15/12]

American Spectator: "Obama Administration Seeks Amnesty For Young Illegal Immigrants." The American Spectator headlined a June 15 post "Obama Administration Seeks Amnesty for Young Illegal Immigrants." [The American Spectator, 6/15/12]

New Policy Isn't Amnesty, But Deferred Action That Allows Young Immigrants To Remain In U.S. For Two Years

Secretary Napolitano: U.S. Will Allow Certain Young People Brought To U.S. As Children To Apply To Remain In The Country. From a press release by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano:

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today announced that effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.

[...]

Deferred action requests are decided on a case-by-case basis. DHS cannot provide any assurance that all such requests will be granted. The use of prosecutorial discretion confers no substantive right, immigration status, or pathway to citizenship. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights. [Department of Homeland Security, 6/15/12]

Napolitano: "A Grant Of Deferred Action Is Not Immunity, It Is Not Amnesty. It Is An Exercise Of Discretion." From Politico:

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said Friday that the Obama administration's new order limiting deportation was neither immunity, nor amnesty.

"A grant of deferred action is not immunity, it is not amnesty," Napolitano told reporters. "It is an exercise of discretion."

The Obama administration announced that it would stop deporting illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States before they were 16 and give them a work permit -- as long as they met certain criteria including finishing high school and having a clean legal record.

Napolitano also said that the decision was not a pathway to either citizenship or permanent residency.

"I believe this action is the right thing to do," Napolitano told reporters. "Our nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a strong, accessible manner."

"They are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration to the given to the individual circumstance," she said. "Nor are they designed to remove productive young people." [Politico, 6/15/12]

President Obama: "This Is Not Amnesty." From a June 15 speech by President Obama about the policy change:

Over the next few months, eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization.

Now, let's be clear. This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It's not a permanent fix. This is a temporary, stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people. It is the -- it is the right thing to do. [NYTimes.com, 6/15/12]

AP: "The Policy Will Not Lead Toward Citizenship But Will Remove The Threat Of Deportation And Grant The Ability To Work Legally." A June 15 Associated Press article reported:

The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.

The policy change, announced Friday by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who have attended college or served in the military.

[...]

Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed.

[...]

The policy will not lead toward citizenship but will remove the threat of deportation and grant the ability to work legally, leaving eligible immigrants able to remain in the United States for extended periods. It tracks closely to a proposal being drafted by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a potential vice presidential running mate for Romney, as an alternative to the DREAM Act. [AP, 6/15/12]

Right-Wing Media Routinely Use Loaded Term "Amnesty" When Discussing Immigration Policy

Pew Research Poll Found More Respondents Opposed Immigration Reform When Described As "Providing Amnesty To Illegal Immigrants." From a research brief published by the Pew Research Center on November 23, 2009:

When Congress and the president abandoned efforts to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2007, public opinion was quite conflicted. A Pew Research poll found that, among those aware of the legislation, more people opposed (41%) than supported (33%) the bill being considered by the Senate, but a solid majority of 63% of the general public supported the bill's main objective to provide a "path to citizenship" for undocumented immigrants. At the time, support for this principle was bipartisan, with nearly as many Republicans as Democrats favoring it. And even when the provision was described as "amnesty," a majority still supported it -- though by a smaller margin of 54%-39%. Republicans were evenly divided on the question when the policy was described as "amnesty."

The report included this chart:

citizenship

[Pew Research Center, 11/23/09]

DREAM ACT

Fox's Kelly: "Critics Call" The DREAM Act "A Pathway To Amnesty For Illegals." On the November 23, 2010, edition of Fox News' America Live, host Megyn Kelly introduced a segment on the DREAM Act by saying, in part, "Critics call [the bill] a pathway to amnesty for illegals." She then brought on Fox host Gregg Jarrett, who said: "You know, for millions of illegals, the DREAM Act is a propitious title because it would fulfill their dream of jumping right to the front of the line and becoming U.S. citizens. Those who oppose it call it a veritable nightmare, granting amnesty right away to more than 2 million illegal immigrants, and in the end, maybe as many as 6 million or more illegals." [Fox News, America Live, 11/23/10, via Media Matters]

Fox's Gallagher: "I Think It's Front Door Amnesty." On the November 23, 2010, edition of Fox News' America Live, Fox News contributor Mike Gallagher described the DREAM Act by saying: "The analogy I keep using ... is that we feel sorry for these children of adults who made a bad decision and broke the law to come into the United States, but it would be like saying if one's parent is a bank robber, the child gets to keep the money and the proceeds from the bank robbery. I'm sorry, most Americans don't accept this." Gallagher later said of the bill: "I don't think it's backdoor amnesty; I think it's front door amnesty." [Fox News, America Live, 11/23/10, via Media Matters]

For more examples of conservative media using "amnesty" when discussing the DREAM Act, click here.

TEMPORARY PROTECTIONS FOR HAITIANS FOLLOWING EARTHQUAKE IN HAITI

Fox Nation Equated Temporary Protections For Haitians In The U.S. With "Amnesty" For "Illegal Aliens." A January 15, 2010, Fox Nation headline asserted, "Obama Moves to Grant Amnesty to Haitian Illegal Aliens." [Media Matters, 1/15/10]

For the truth behind Fox Nation's "amnesty" headline, click here.

ICE POLICIES AND BORDER ENFORCEMENT

Fox Botched ICE Policy To Claim Feds Were Granting "Backdoor Amnesty." In August 2010, several Fox News anchors claimed that a new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policy meant that only illegal immigrants with criminal records would be deported, with several Fox News hosts labeling it "amnesty."

For the truth about the ICE policy, click here.

Dobbs Claimed Obama's Border Efforts Are A "Foundation" For "Unconditional Amnesty." On the August 9, 2010, edition of Fox News' America Live, guest Lou Dobbs called a pending border security bill "a modest border security piece of legislation," and claimed "it would give [the Obama administration] the foundation to say, we did something about border security ... and then move ahead and have their way on the issue of unconditional amnesty." Dobbs later claimed that "we are not seeing a commitment to actual detention and apprehension." [Media Matters, 8/30/10]

IMMIGRATION REFORM

Fox Nation Relabeled Immigration Bill "Amnesty Bill." In a July 9, 2009, post, Fox Nation linked to an Associated Press article about an upcoming immigration bill under the headline, "Schumer: Amnesty Bill Ready by Labor Day." The original AP headline was, "Schumer: Immigration bill to be ready by Labor Day." [Fox Nation, 7/9/09, via Media Matters]

Fox Nation: "House Dems Introduce Illegal Alien Amnesty Bill." In a December 16, 2009, post, Fox Nation linked to an article about a proposed immigration reform bill under the headline, "House Dems Introduce Illegal Alien Amnesty Bill." [Fox Nation, 12/16/09, via Media Matters]

Drudge Report Declared Proposal To Keep Families Together "Stealth Amnesty." On April 4, The Drudge Report linked to a Judicial Watch post under the headlines, "Big Sis To Grant Illegal Aliens 'Unlawful Presence Waivers,'" and, "'Implement Stealth Amnesty.'" From The Drudge Report:

drudge

[Drudge Report, 4/4/12]

Jim Hoft: "Laws, What Laws?... Big Sis To Grant Illegal Aliens 'Unlawful Presence Waivers.'" In an April 3 post on Gateway Pundit, right-wing blogger Jim Hoft posted a section of the Judicial Watch piece under the headline "Laws, What Laws?... Big Sis To Grant Illegal Aliens 'Unlawful Presence Waivers.'" Hoft asked, "Is there any law this administration is willing to honor?" and concluded, "And the lawless regime rolls on." [Gateway Pundit, 4/3/12]

For more examples of conservative media using "amnesty" when discussing immigration reform, click here and here.

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