The day after an Uzbek immigrant killed eight people and injured several more in a terror attack in lower Manhattan, Fox & Friends invited former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) to criticize the visa program through which alleged attacker Sayfullo Saipov was admitted to the United States. Here are five examples of Chaffetz and his Fox hosts’ misleading or inaccurate claims, debunked:
First, Chaffetz claimed, “Bangladesh, they took literally everybody on their phone book and put them in for the lottery.” The source of this claim could very well be the 2011 testimony of Stephen Edson, former deputy assistant secretary of state for visa service to the House Judiciary Committee (of which Chaffetz was a member), in which he cited an example of a single Bangladeshi “agent” who was “reported to have enrolled an entire phone book so that he could then either extort money from winning applicants who had never entered the program to begin with or sell their winning slots to others.” Media Matters was unable to corroborate this claim, but a 2010 article in The Wall Street Journal reported that one Bangladeshi man submitted 2,800 entries that year. In 2016, the U.S. Embassy in Bangladesh launched an anti-fraud campaign to curb exploitation of the program, for which Bangladesh is not currently eligible in the first place.
Chaffetz then added, “And I see a mugshot. Now if you are coming here to this country, and you’ve got an arrest record, A. You shouldn’t get in. And if you’re here and you get arrested, then kick him out of the country. … And you should get rid of the family.” Co-host Steve Doocy also referenced “chain migration.” But Saipov’s mugshot was taken when he was arrested for failing to pay a traffic citation, a crime which does not constitute grounds for deportation. Spouses and children are perfectly eligible to accompany a diversity visa holder, though Saipov married his wife in the United States so likely did not bring any with him.
Doocy’s fears of so-called “chain migration” are unsubstantiated. Saipov reportedly came to the United States on his own, and even if he had brought family members, they would have been subject to the same already thorough vetting procedures as any other potential immigrant.
Chaffetz also exclaimed, “I want every governor in this state to go in front of the cameras today and justify why they give illegal aliens driver’s licenses.” But Saipov was not an “illegal alien.” He was here legally and had a valid driver’s license. The attempt to link this unrelated incident to some states allowing undocumented immigrants to acquire valid driver’s licences fits a long tradition at Fox of fearmongering about a group of people who are no more likely to commit crimes than anyone else.
Last, Chaffetz agreed with Doocy’s suggestion that this incident makes “President Trump’s suggestion that we need to have a super vetting program more reality,” but Uzbekistan was never on any iteration of Trump’s currently stalled proposal to ban immigrants from mostly Muslim nations.
From the November 1 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
JASON CHAFFETZ: What is the most ridiculous way to pick the next United States citizen? Not on merit, not on family, just literally a lottery. You had one country -- I think it was Bangladesh -- they took literally everybody on their phone book and put them in for the lottery. And you literally -- I mean, coming to the United States is a privilege. But how do you do this? And I see a mugshot. Now if you’re coming here to this country, and you’ve got an arrest record, A. You shouldn’t get in. If you’re here and you get arrested, then kick him out of the country. It is privilege to be here. You don’t need people like that here. And you should get rid of the family. This guy who committed this crime, assuming that he did commit this crime, his entire family should be deported. It’s that we’re so nice and so politically correct. Oh, let’s just keep them here.
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Because of this program, you can automatically bring everyone in your family.
CHAFFETZ: You get to bring in immediate family.
DOOCY: Chain migration.
CHAFFETZ: That’s right.
AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Well, when there’s a mass shooting, we always hear the Democrats are saying, “Get rid of the guns. We need gun control.” Now, when it’s a truck, or it’s ISIS, or it’s this visa program, why aren’t they screaming we need to get rid of that?
CHAFFETZ: I want every governor in this state to go in front of the cameras today and justify why they give illegal aliens driver’s licenses. Because, guess what? You can’t rent a truck if you don't have a driver’s license. So go explain to me why it's a good thing, if you're here illegally, to give them a driver’s license. And if you go and you commit a crime, you're here on a visa and you commit a crime, maybe we should think about that. Maybe we should have an actual discussion about that.
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): You know sometimes when things happen there is an immediate legitimate response for lawmakers who are consumed with taxes and everything else. Do you think this might go into that category? That where there might be a bipartisan push to, for example, to put on hold this visa lottery program?
CHAFFETZ: I would hope so.
DOOCY: Well, doesn’t this particular tragic case make President Trump’s suggestion that we need to have a super vetting program more reality?
CHAFFETZ: Yes. And look at the countries we are talking about. Talking about places like Libya and places that, they have no -- and if you actually go, I’ve been to many embassies around the world, and you watch the vetting process, sometimes it’s just 10 minutes. It’s just a little interview.