Fox & Friends Distorts Obama's Record On Border Security

Fox & Friends repeatedly suggested that because of a joke President Obama made during a recent speech about immigration, he is not taking border security seriously. But Fox & Friends ignored that deportations of illegal immigrants have increased under Obama, and the number of border patrol agents and funding for border security projects have also increased.

Obama Makes “Moat” Joke During Immigration Speech In TX

Obama Jokes: “Maybe [Republicans] Will Want A Moat [At The Border] ... They'll Never Be Satisfied.” During his May 10 speech in El Paso, Texas, about immigration reform, President Obama said:

OBAMA: So, here's the point. I want everybody to listen carefully to this. We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. All the stuff they asked for, we've done. But even though we've answered these concerns, I've got to say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time.


You know, they said we needed to triple the Border Patrol. Or now they're going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol. Or they'll want a higher fence. Maybe they'll need a moat. (Laughter.) Maybe they want alligators in the moat. (Laughter.) They'll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That's politics. [Obama's remarks on immigration reform,, 5/10/11]

Fox & Friends Uses Moat Joke To Suggest Obama Is Not “Securing The Border”

Doocy: “Can [Obama] Keep Us Safe Without Securing The Border?” On the May 11 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said:

DOOCY: Just days after a dozen people were massacred near the United States- Mexican border, the president made fun of the fence. Can he keep us safe without securing the border? Congressman Ted Poe of Texas is here this morning.

Doocy was referring to a May 8 gun battle at Falcon Lake, on the border between Texas and Mexico, which reportedly killed one Mexican marine and 12 suspected drug cartel members. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/11/11; CBS News, 5/10/11]

Carlson: “The President Said That You Guys Got All The Stuff That You Asked For. Is That True?” Later during the broadcast, co-host Gretchen Carlson interviewed Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX). Carlson repeatedly invited Poe to criticize the Obama administration's record on border security and did not push back against Poe's suggestion that the president has made the U.S.-Mexican border less secure. From the broadcast:

CARLSON: So in that little clip that we just played [from Obama's May 10 speech], the president said that you guys got all the stuff that you asked for. Is that true?

POE: No, that's completely not true. I have asked the president to put more National Guard troops on the board -- 10,000 National Guard troops. That hasn't happened. So the president is misinformed when he says that he is -- we have -- he has done everything we've asked him to do. The border is not secure. His own agency -- inspector general says that only 44 percent of the border is secure. That means 56 percent of the border is controlled by somebody else. And that's not Mexico, and that's not the United States. So, I've been to the border numerous times, been to Arizona. And the president is incorrect when he tries to mislead the American public, especially people who aren't on the border, that the border is secure. It is not.

CARLSON: See, here's what I don't understand, congressman, because it would seem to me that most Americans would be in favor of securing our border. Just that fact alone. Then it gets dicey. I mean, then it gets dicey -- what do you do with all the people who are already here? What do you do with the rest of the family members who still want to come? But am I missing something here? I don't really understand who's against securing the border.

POE: There are different political entities who actually believe in open borders. We want people to come here the right way. If you can't come here legally, don't come. And that includes everybody. And we have to make sure that we secure that southern border, especially. Third World countries secure their borders better than we do. We protect the borders of other nations, Afghanistan, Iraq, but we don't protect ours. It is -- it is just a song and dance to try mislead folks that the border is secure. The border patrol does as best job as they can, but they need more reinforcements. Everybody knows that drug cartels cross back and forth into the United States every day. They bring people, they bring drugs. And it's very disheartening to find Americans throughout the country who don't live there that don't want the borders secure. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/11/11]

Carlson: “Days After A Massacre On The Mexican Border, President Obama Made Fun ... Of The Fence.” Later during the show, Carlson teased an upcoming segment by saying:

CARLSON: [D]ays after a massacre on the Mexican border, President Obama made fun, then, of the fence.

OBAMA [video clip]: Maybe they'll need a moat, maybe they'll want alligators in the moat. They'll never be satisfied.

CARLSON: He was talking about Republicans. So will Republicans get the last laugh? Well, Karl Rove is here next to let us know his thoughts. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/11/11]

But Experts, Media Say Border Is “More Fortified Than Ever” Under Obama Admin.

PolitiFact: "[Border Patrol] Manpower Has Roughly Doubled Since 2004, As Obama Said In His Speech At El Paso." PolitiFact rated as “true” Obama's statement that "[t]he Border Patrol has 20,000 agents -- more than twice as many as there were in 2004." From PolitiFact:

In a speech on immigration reform in El Paso, Texas, President Barack Obama boasted about an unprecedented number of border security agents along the U.S. border with Mexico, but he said critics probably still won't be satisfied.

“Under Secretary Napolitano's leadership, we have strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible,” Obama said in his May 10, 2011, speech. “They wanted more agents on the border. Well, we now have more boots on the ground on the southwest border than at any time in our history. The Border Patrol has 20,000 agents -- more than twice as many as there were in 2004, a buildup that began under President Bush and that we have continued.”


In March 2011, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report, “Border Security: DHS Progress and Challenges in Securing the U.S. Southwest and Northern Borders,” in conjunction with testimony from GAO Director Richard Stana.

The report confirmed that personnel and other resources to stop illegal crossings of the U.S.-Mexico border have increased dramatically in recent years. In 2004, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was created, reorganizing several federal agencies under a single roof. That year, the agency had 10,500 agents to patrol land borders. That number now stands at nearly 21,000.

In other words, manpower has roughly doubled since 2004, as Obama said in his speech in El Paso. Again, that trend began under President Bush, whom Obama credited, but it continued under Obama. We rate Obama's statement True. [PolitiFact, 5/10/11]

AP: “The U.S.-Mexico Border Is More Fortified Now Than It Was Even Five Years Ago.” A June 23, 2010, Associated Press article noted: “You wouldn't know it from the public debate, but the U.S.-Mexico border is more fortified now than it was even five years ago. Far more agents patrol it, more fences, barriers and technology protect it and taxpayers are spending billions more to reinforce it.” [AP, 6/23/10]

There Are Currently More Border Patrol Agents “Than Ever Before In The History Of This Country.” The Obama administration has been increasing the number of Border Patrol officers on the southern border. During a July 2010 hearing of the House Committee on Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol chief Michael Fisher said, “Currently we have over 20,000 Border Patrol Agents nationwide, more than ever before in the history of the country.”

Based on Department of Homeland Security data, The Arizona Republic created the following chart showing the increase in border patrol agents since 2001.

AZ Republic Border Agent Chart

[House Homeland Security Committee Hearing, 7/22/10; The Arizona Republic, 5/26/10]

Obama Signed $600 Million Border Security Bill For More Border Patrol Agents And Customs Inspectors. On August 13, 2010, Obama signed a $600 million border security bill to “fund some 1,500 new border patrol agents, customs inspectors and other law enforcement officials along the border, as well as two more unmanned aerial 'drones' to monitor border activities.” [Reuters, 8/13/10]

Seizures Of Drugs, Weapons Along Border Have Increased. According to data reported by USA Today, "[w]eapons seizures rose 28% and illicit-currency seizures were up 35% in fiscal 2009 and 2010." [USA Today, 2/9/11]

Deportations Have Increased Under Obama. According to data from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), nearly 100,000 more people were deported by ICE in both 2009 and 2010 than in 2007. [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, accessed 2/14/11]

Deportations Of Convicted Criminals Are At Their Highest Levels. According to AZ Fact Check -- a project of The Arizona Republic,, 12 News, and Arizona State University -- “ICE has removal numbers immediately available for only the past 10 fiscal years, and according to those figures, the most convicted criminals were indeed removed in fiscal 2010.” [AZ Fact Check, 2/9/11]

Illegal Immigration Fell In FY 2010 Due To “Economic Distress” And “Changes In The Level Of Immigration Enforcement.” In a study on the national and state trends of the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States, Pew Hispanic Center found that “economic distress” and “changes in the level of immigration enforcement” led to a decrease in the number of undocumented immigrants crossing into the United States. From Pew Hispanic Center:

The decline in the population of unauthorized immigrants from its peak in 2007 appears due mainly to a decrease in the number from Mexico, which went down to 6.5 million in 2010 from 7 million in 2007. Mexicans remain the largest group of unauthorized immigrants, accounting for 58% of the total.

  • The number of unauthorized immigrants decreased from 2007 to 2010 in Colorado, Florida, New York and Virginia. The combined population in three contiguous Mountain West states-Arizona, Nevada and Utah-also declined.
  • In contrast to the national trend, the combined unauthorized immigrant population in three contiguous West South Central states-Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas-grew from 2007 to 2010.
  • Although the number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. is below 2007 levels, it has tripled since 1990, when it was 3.5 million and grown by a third since 2000, when it was 8.4 million.

The estimates are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, augmented with the Pew Hispanic Center's analysis of the demographic characteristics of the unauthorized immigrant population using a “residual estimation methodology.”

Although the estimates indicate trends in the size and composition of the unauthorized-immigrant population, they are not designed to answer the question of why these changes occurred. There are many possible factors. The deep recession that began in the U.S. economy officially ended in 2009, but recovery has been slow to take hold and unemployment remains high. Immigration flows have tended to decrease in previous periods of economic distress.

The period covered by this analysis also has been accompanied by changes in the level of immigration enforcement and in enforcement strategies, not only by the federal government but also at state and local levels. Immigration also is subject to pressure by demographic and economic conditions in sending countries. This analysis does not attempt to quantify the relative impact of these forces on levels of unauthorized immigration. [Pew Hispanic Center, 2/1/11]

Fox Has A History Of Misinforming About Obama's Immigration Record

Fox Uses White House Meeting On Immigration Reform To Insult Undocumented Immigrants And Border Security. On April 19, Fox News' supposedly “straight news” programs used a White House meeting on immigration reform to fearmonger about immigration and bash Obama's record on border security and immigration. [Media Matters, 4/20/11]

Fox & Friends Falsely Suggested Obama Refuses To Secure Border. In October, 2010, Fox & Friends hosted Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and agreed with his false suggestion that Obama has not worked to secure the border with Mexico. [Media Matters, 10/13/10]

Right-Wing Media Falsely Claim Obama Said Border Security Is “Impossible.” In July, 2010, right-wing media distorted one of Obama's immigration speeches to claim that he said border security is impossible. In fact, Obama said our immigration problems can't be solved “only with fences and border patrols” and that other measures are needed to reduce the incentives for illegal immigration, a view that has also been expressed by many experts and several Republicans. [Media Matters, 7/20/10]

Right-Wing Media Figures Have Repeatedly Distorted Obama's Record On Border Security. Right-wing media figures have a history of falsely portraying Obama as weak on border security. [Media Matters, 7/1/10, 7/29/10, 8/4/10]