Fox Hypes Photo Of One Man Climbing Border Fence To Fearmonger Over Border Security

Fox & Friends repeatedly aired a photo of a man climbing a fence on the Mexican border to fearmonger over border security. However, illegal border crossings have reportedly “sputtered to a trickle,” and the Obama administration has taken measures to increase border security; moreover, according to Fox's own reporting, the man shown in the picture was captured by Border Patrol agents.

Fox & Friends Airs Single Picture Of Man Climbing Fence To Fearmonger Over Border Security

Carlson: “Our Borders Are More Secure Than Ever Before? Better Check Again.” On the July 7 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson said: "[O]ur borders are more secure than ever before? Better check again. That's an illegal making a run for freedom." During the segment, Fox & Friends aired the following image, which Carlson said was taken by a “Fox News viewer”:

Fence climber

[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/7/11]

Doocy: “Who Said Our Borders Were More Secure Than Ever Before?” Later, Fox & Friends again aired the image while co-host Steve Doocy claimed: “Who said our borders were more secure than ever before? Take a close look. That fella in the spot shadow -- an illegal alien hopping the fence for freedom.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/7/11]

But Fox & Friends Itself Reported That The Man Was “Nabbed” By Border Patrol

Carlson: The Man “Tried To Get Away On A Bike, But U.S. Border Patrol Agents Nabbed Him.” In another segment on the July 7 edition of Fox & Friends, Carlson again showed the image but noted that the man “tried to get away on a bike, but U.S. Border Patrol agents nabbed him.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/7/11]

NY Times: Illegal Border Crossings Have “Sputtered To A Trickle”

NY Times: “Mexican Migration That Delivered Millions Of Illegal Immigrants To The United States Over The Past 30 Years Has Sputtered To A Trickle.” A July 6 New York Times article reported:

The extraordinary Mexican migration that delivered millions of illegal immigrants to the United States over the past 30 years has sputtered to a trickle, and research points to a surprising cause: unheralded changes in Mexico that have made staying home more attractive.

A growing body of evidence suggests that a mix of developments -- expanding economic and educational opportunities, rising border crime and shrinking families -- are suppressing illegal traffic as much as economic slowdowns or immigrant crackdowns in the United States. [The New York Times, 7/6/11]

Immigration Expert: “The Flow” Of Immigrants “Has Already Stopped.” In the July 6 New York Times article, Douglas S. Massey, the co-director of Princeton University's Mexican Migration Project, noted that “the flow” of immigrants from Mexico into America “has already stopped” and that “the net traffic has gone to zero and is probably a little bit negative.” From The New York Times:

Douglas S. Massey, co-director of the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton, an extensive, long-term survey in Mexican emigration hubs, said his research showed that interest in heading to the United States for the first time had fallen to its lowest level since at least the 1950s. “No one wants to hear it, but the flow has already stopped,” Mr. Massey said, referring to illegal traffic. “For the first time in 60 years, the net traffic has gone to zero and is probably a little bit negative.”

The decline in illegal immigration, from a country responsible for roughly 6 of every 10 illegal immigrants in the United States, is stark. The Mexican census recently discovered four million more people in Mexico than had been projected, which officials attributed to a sharp decline in emigration.

American census figures analyzed by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center also show that the illegal Mexican population in the United States has shrunk and that fewer than 100,000 illegal border-crossers and visa-violators from Mexico settled in the United States in 2010, down from about 525,000 annually from 2000 to 2004. Although some advocates for more limited immigration argue that the Pew studies offer estimates that do not include short-term migrants, most experts agree that far fewer illegal immigrants have been arriving in recent years. [The New York Times, 7/6/11]

And Border Security Has Increased During Obama's Administration

PolitiFact: "[Border Patrol] Manpower Has Roughly Doubled Since 2004, As Obama Said In His Speech At El Paso." PolitiFact rated as “true” President 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 Homeland Security Committee, 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:

Border Patrol

[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 7/7/11]

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 Border Security And Immigration

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

Right-Wing Media Claimed 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. [Media Matters, 7/2/10]

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