Fox hosts anti-immigrant leader to launch baseless attacks on DREAM Act

Fox & Friends hosted William Gheen, president of the anti-immigrant Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), to attack the DREAM Act. Gheen not only rehashed falsehoods about the bill, but also levied several absurd claims, such as that the bill would “displace and replace” millions of American citizens and that its passage would mean that Americans can “kiss the borders of the United States goodbye.” Gheen and ALIPAC have a long history of extreme nativist rhetoric and have been linked to white supremacist groups.

Fox & Friends promote falsehoods about DREAM Act

During the November 30 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, the co-hosts brought on Gheen to discuss the DREAM Act, a bill currently pending in the House and Senate that would grant legal status to some undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Gheen and Doocy agree: "[T]ens of millions of...illegals in the country" could become citizens if the DREAM Act passes. Introducing the segment, co-host Steve Doocy said, “You are talking about tens of millions of Americans if this thing passes -- or, illegals in the country as Americans.” Gheen echoed the number, repeatedly referencing “millions” and “tens of millions” of illegal immigrants who could be “turned into citizens” by passage of the bill. [Fox & Friends, 11/30/2010]

Doocy claims students' “siblings” and “parents” would automatically be eligible for citizenship under the bill. Doocy led the segment by asking, “But, if [the bill] passes, will it open the door to...all sorts of illegal immigrants?” Doocy introduced Gheen and then said, “In reading the materials today, I didn't realize that not only would the students be able to become legal citizens, buy then they could have their siblings come in, their parents, you are talking about tens of millions...of illegals in the country as Americans” if the bill passes. [Fox & Friends, 11/30/2010]

In fact, DREAM Act would not allow for “tens of millions” of new citizens

DREAM Act beneficiaries could not automatically become citizens. As Media Matters for America has previously documented, the DREAM Act legislation pending in both the House and Senate would allow eligible undocumented immigrants to obtain “conditional permanent resident status,” which would be “valid for a period of six years” and subject to termination should the individual violate the requirements. To apply for this conditional status, an undocumented immigrant must have been under 16 years of age when they came to the U.S., must have “good moral character,” and must have earned a high school diploma/GED or have been admitted to an institution of higher education:

MPI: Applicants can become permanent residents after meeting several criteria. According to a July report issued by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute (MPI), this status would only become permanent after applicants “successfully complete at least two years of post-secondary education or military service and if they maintain good moral character during that time period.” Those granted permanent legal status would then need to apply for naturalization if they wished to become citizens. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, these requirements include being a permanent resident for at least five years and being able to read, write, and speak English. [Migration Policy Institute, July 2010]

  • MPI: Roughly “825,000 people ... would likely obtain permanent legal status.” MPI's July report determined the number of potential DREAM Act beneficiaries and estimated how many of them are likely to ultimately gain permanent legal status. The study found that, based on varying English language ability, income status, presence of dependent children, and employment status (emphasis added):

While slightly more than 2.1 million youth and young adults could be eligible to apply for legal status under the legislation, historical trends indicate that far fewer are likely to actually gain permanent (or even conditional) status, due primarily to the bill's education attainment requirements. We estimate that roughly 38 percent of potential beneficiaries -- 825,000 people -- would likely obtain permanent legal status through the DREAM Act's education and military routes while as many as 62 percent would likely fail to do so. [Migration Policy Institute, July 2010]

  • NILC: Applicants could “never sponsor distant family members”; most students' parents “also ineligible.”According to a fact sheet on the DREAM Act published by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), those who would be eligible for conditional legal status under the DREAM Act could “never sponsor distant family members.” It also states, “Most of the parents of DREAM Act beneficiaries will also be ineligible to adjust their immigration status.” From the fact sheet:

Around 800,000 students could ultimately benefit under the DREAM Act, and even if those students jump through numerous hoops and become U.S. citizens, they can never sponsor distant family members--such as uncles and cousins. Immigration law doesn't allow it.

Most of the parents of DREAM Act beneficiaries will also be ineligible to adjust their immigration status. Students who fulfill all of the requirements prescribed in the DREAM Act may eventually (after years) apply to become U.S. citizens. If they meet the requirements and become citizens, like other U.S. citizens, they can petition for their parents when they turn 21. However, if their parents originally entered the country without being inspected by an immigration officer, they will not be eligible to get relief. While parents who entered without inspection may apply for an immigrant visa at a consulate abroad, they will likely be barred from entering the U.S. for ten years if they have been unlawfully present in the U.S. for over six months. [National Immigration Law Center, November 2010]

Gheen invents consequences of DREAM Act

Gheen uses extreme rhetoric, calling the bill “a political teddy bear with a hand grenade in it.” At the beginning of the segment, Gheen said, “The DREAM Act amnesty, or nightmare act amnesty, is a political teddy bear with a hand grenade in it.” [Fox & Friends, 11/30/2010]

Gheen nonsensically rants that “tens of millions” of American “workers,” “voters,” and “the political influence of...Fox network viewers” will be “displaced and replaced.” During the segment, Gheen repeatedly claimed that the bill would “displace and replace” American “students,” “workers,” and “voters.” He also said that passage of the bill would “nullif[y]” “the Tea Party movement” and would result in the “displaced and replaced” “political influence of Fox network viewers.” From the segment:

GHEEN: If these illegal aliens, millions of them are turned into citizens, what it's going to do, it's going to displace and replace millions of innocent American college students, it's going to displace and replace tens of millions of American workers. It's going to displace and replace eventually, as you said, tens of millions of American voters. If the DREAM Act amnesty passes, they're on the same format to try to pass it as they did the health care bill about a year ago, over the Christmas holiday. You can count on the Tea Party movement being nullified. The political influence of most of the Fox network viewers being replaced and displaced and replaced, or any of the millions of Americans like me that favor the enforcement of our existing immigration and border laws instead of any form of amnesty, all of us are going to be displaced and replaced. [Fox & Friends, 11/30/2010]

Gheen bizarrely links DREAM Act to the health care bill. During the segment, Gheen asserted, “If the DREAM Act amnesty passes, they're on the same format to try to pass it as they did the health care bill, about a year ago, over the Christmas holiday.” The final vote on the final health care bill in the Senate, H.R. 3590, took place on December 24, 2009.

Gheen claims that if the bill passes, “you can kiss the borders of the United States good-bye” and that Americans will “lose the country.” At the end of the segment, Gheen referred to outgoing members of Congress who support the DREAM Act and said:

They're trying to punch holes in the bottom of the boat on their way out the door and if they succeed, you can kiss the borders of the United States good-bye. We have to get Americans to understand the threat is very real and illegal aliens and their supporters are calling the U.S. Senate today, calling the U.S. Congress, playing the, you know, 'Oh all these poor innocent students, please give us what we want' routine. If Americans do not mobilize immediately, they're going to lose the country.[Fox & Friends, 11/30/2010]

Gheen and ALIPAC have a history of extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric

ALIPAC is SPLC “nativist extremist group.” The Southern Poverty Law Center featured ALIPAC on its 2009 list of " 'Nativist Extremist' groups."

Gheen attacked GOP Senator Lindsey Graham after he supported bipartisan efforts at immigration reform. In April 2010, Gheen launched personal attacks on Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) after Graham worked on bipartisan efforts at comprehensive immigration reform.

McCain spokesperson called on primary opponent to “disavow” the support of “extreme” groups like ALIPAC.During the Arizona senatorial primary, Sen. John McCain's campaign called on his primary challenger J.D. Hayworth to disavow the endorsement of ALIPAC after the epithets “wetback” and “pepper bellies” appeared on the group's website.

Gheen referred to Mexicans who contend racism is driving U.S. immigration debate as “brown Nazis.” In 2007, as a guest on talk radio host Peter Boyles' show, Gheen responded to criticism of Mexico's former President Vicente Fox, who reportedly said the U.S. allows racism to shape immigration policy, by labeling Mexicans who make such arguments as "brown Nazis."

Gheen accused Media Matters, La Raza, and others of lying “by trying to claim that illegal aliens do not pose crime risk...[or] disease risk.” In a 2008 post on the conservative Christian site, Gheen said Media Matters for America, La Raza, and the Hispanic Caucus were among groups “lying to claim that illegal aliens do not pose crime risk. They are lying by trying to say that illegal aliens do not pose disease risk. They are lying by trying to say that there's no significant anti-American or separatist movement within the ranks of the illegals...”

ALIPAC is tied to several white supremacist groups. According to the Anti-Defamation League, ALIPAC has been supported by white supremacist groups and members of those groups.