Fox Uses Grieving Father's Story To Smear Undocumented Immigrants

Fox News used the tragic story of a grieving father to continue smearing undocumented immigrants as violent criminals and attack the Obama administration's deportation policies. In fact, data shows that immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated and do not commit crimes at higher rates than others. Moreover, the Obama administration's deportation of undocumented immigrants is at an all-time high.

Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy interviewed Don Rosenberg to discuss the death of his son, Drew, who was killed in California when his motorcycle was hit by an unlicensed driver in 2010. As San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra J. Saunders reported, Roberto Galo was charged in the incident for driving without a license and with felony negligent homicide for causing Drew's death. He is reportedly slated for release on Friday.

As Saunders noted, Rosenberg has called for Galo to be deported upon his release. However, Galo is “a legal immigrant with 'temporary protected status,'” which, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, means Galo cannot be deported under certain circumstances: Conditions in his home country temporarily prevent him from returning safely or his country is unable to adequately handle his return.

Galo is reportedly from Honduras, which affords its nationals and those without nationality who last resided in that country protected status in the United States until July 2013. However, those eligible under these conditions might forfeit protected status if they have been convicted of a felony or have committed two or more misdemeanors in the United States.

In introducing the segment, Doocy called Galo “an unlicensed illegal immigrant” while onscreen text repeatedly identified him as an “illegal immigrant.”

Fox News website Fox Nation also highlighted the story, linking to Saunders' column with the headline, “Obama Won't Deport Illegal Alien Killer,” even though she reported that Galo is in the country legally:

During the Fox & Friends segment, legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. tied Galo's case with the Obama administration's deportation policies, claiming that the Rosenbergs are the victims of the administration's prosecutorial guidelines where “there is a much higher threshold by which people are deported in America.” Johnson added: “Some say that was a political move in an election year and frankly we're seeing the effects of what happened to one particular family, the Rosenberg family.”

Johnson concluded the segment by telling viewers to write to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to demand justice for Drew Rosenberg.

In fact, Galo, who is in the country legally, was arrested, sentenced, and is serving time for his crime. Though thousands of legal immigrants can be and are deported every year, the Obama administration's prosecutorial discretion prioritizes deportations of undocumented immigrants who commit violent crimes. In 2011, more than 200,000 undocumented immigrants who fell into that category were deported, the largest number ever, which included those convicted of homicide, sexual-based offenses, crimes involving drugs, and driving under the influence.

In 2010, according to the Christian Science Monitor, “13,028 people were deported for less serious traffic violations, three times the 4,527 who were deported two years earlier.”

Johnson's claim that the administration's use of prosecutorial discretion was an election-year ploy is a card Fox has repeatedly used to undermine President Obama's stringent enforcement policies. But the administration's decision to grant possible deportation relief to certain undocumented immigrants would not have applied to Galo: First, Deferred Action is aimed at immigrants who were brought here at a young age and are 30 years old or younger; second, those eligible may not have been convicted of a felony offense, significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety. 

And contrary to Fox's suggestion that undocumented immigrants are linked to higher instances of crime, data has consistently shown that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or end up behind bars than native-born Americans. From the Immigration Policy Center:

Numerous studies by independent researchers and government commissions over the past 100 years repeatedly and consistently have found that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native-born. In the early decades of the 20th century, during the previous era of large-scale immigration, various federal commissions found lower levels of crime among the foreign-born than the native-born.

More recently, the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform reached a similar conclusion in a 1994 report, as have academic researchers using data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 Census; the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health; and the results of community studies in Chicago, San Diego, El Paso, and Miami.

The problem of crime in the United States is not “caused” or even aggravated by immigrants, regardless of their legal status.

Since his son's death, Don Rosenberg has been campaigning for tougher penalties against unlicensed drivers, whether they are in the country illegally or not, and for good reason. AAA notes that the majority of high-risk drivers are unlicensed:

One fatal crash in five (20%) involves a driver who is unlicensed or whose license is suspended, canceled, or revoked.

States differ dramatically in their incidence of crashes involving unlicensed and invalidly licensed drivers, from 6.1% in Maine to 23.4% in New Mexico.

Unlicensed drivers are almost five times more likely to be in a fatal crash than are validly licensed drivers.

Two-thirds of drivers continue to drive while under suspension.

Given these statistics, Fox could have easily highlighted the issue without using it as a political opportunity to smear undocumented immigrants.