With Renewed National Focus On Immigration Reform, Fox Revs Up Anti-Immigrant Campaign

As immigration reform has re-entered the public debate, Fox News has spent the past several weeks misleading on the issue and slanting its news coverage to paint immigrants in a negative light.

Fox Insists On Using Loaded Terms “Illegals,” “Anchor Baby”

Neil Cavuto Repeatedly Used “Illegals” To Refer To Unauthorized Immigrants. In a segment highlighting the government's immigration audits of companies, Fox News host Neil Cavuto repeatedly used the term “illegals,” saying that the government is "[c]racking down on illegals by hitting their employers where it hurts," and that “the government [is] going after where illegals are working.” He later stated, "[T]his sounds like a good idea, because it tries to cut the problem right at the impasse, so to speak. These companies that knowingly hire illegals, so you're going right to the source." [Fox Business, Cavuto, 6/16/11, via Nexis]

For the truth on the pejorative term “illegal,” click here

Eric Bolling Slurred The Children Of Unauthorized Immigrants As “Anchor Babies.” Discussing CNN's Republican presidential primary debate, Fox Business host Eric Bolling used the term “anchor babies” to refer to the children of unauthorized immigrants. Introducing Rep. Louie Gohmert, Bolling stated: “With me now is Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas, who has been at forefront of [the] anchor babies debate.” Bolling later used the term “illegal” to refer to an unauthorized immigrant. [Fox Business, Follow the Money, 6/14/11, via Nexis]

For the truth on the racist term “anchor baby,” click here

Brian Kilmeade: “The Illegals Are Destroying” Alabama's Economy. In a segment discussing a recently passed Alabama immigration law, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade stated: "[T]his is a state that is fed up with its illegal immigration problem and is desperate to change it. They don't hate people or -- but the illegals are destroying their economy." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/10/11]

Discussing Controversial Alabama Immigration Law, Fox & Friends Used Loaded Term “Illegals.” During the same June 10 segment on Fox & Friends, while the co-hosts discussed Alabama's controversial anti-immigrant law, the loaded and misleading term “illegals” was aired in on-screen text:


[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/10/11]

Fox's Supposed “Straight News” Report Blasted States For Not Being Tough Enough On “Illegals.” On America's Newsroom, correspondent William La Jeunesse blasted states for opting out of the federal deportation program, Secure Communities, saying that “the program is a cornerstone of the president's immigration policy, which says, for illegals here, you work hard, you keep your nose clean, you get to stay. You break the law, you go home.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 6/8/11]

In Segment On California Colleges, Gretchen Carlson Referred To Some Students As “Illegals.” On The O'Reilly Factor, Fox's Gretchen Carlson inflated the number of students in University of California schools paying in-state tuition, saying that “about 35 percent of the in-state tuition people or students were illegals.” During the segment's introduction, the on-screen graphic read: “Free Tuition For Illegals”:


[Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 6/9/11]

Trace Gallagher Tarred Unauthorized Immigrants In Pennsylvania As “Illegals.” On America Live, Fox's Trace Gallagher referred to unauthorized immigrants in Pennsylvania as “illegals,” saying that the state's city leaders “passed two ordinances: one, cracking down on businesses that hire illegals, and two, cracking down on landlords that rent to illegals.” [Fox News, America Live, 6/7/11]

Fox Slurred Unauthorized Immigrants As “Illegals” While Discussing California's In-State Tuition Law. During a segment discussing the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold a California law granting unauthorized immigrant students in-state tuition, an on-screen graphic read: “In-State Tuition For Illegals Upheld By U.S. Supreme Court”:


[Fox News, America's Newsroom, 6/7/11]

Fox Nation Used “Illegals” In Story About Migrant Laborers. In a story attacking migrant laborers in El Paso, Texas, Fox Nation used the headline: “Illegals Leaving Feces All Over El Paso”:


[Fox Nation, 6/3/11]

America Live Repeatedly Slurred Unauthorized Immigrants As “Illegals.” In a segment highlighting states' concerns with Secure Communities, Fox News' Martha MacCallum and Trace Gallagher repeatedly referred to unauthorized immigrants as “illegals.” [Fox News, America Live, 5/31/11]

Special Report's Bret Baier Used Loaded Term “Illegals.” Fox News' Bret Baier, who anchors the “straight news” show Special Report, used the word “illegals” to describe unauthorized immigrants in the United States, saying that a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding an Arizona immigration law would have the effect of “penalizing businesses for hiring illegals.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 5/26/11]

Lou Dobbs Used “Anchor Babies” Slur While Talking About Birthright Citizenship. On his Fox Business show, Lou Dobbs hyped a Rasmussen poll suggesting birthright citizenship should be revoked, saying, “61 percent say that a child born in the United States to a woman who is in this country illegally should not automatically become a citizen, so-called anchor babies.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 5/10/11]

Fox Nation Again Ran With Term “Illegals” In Immigration Story. A headline on the Fox Nation claimed: “Feds Ordered Not To Arrest Illegals Coming From Mexico”:


[Fox Nation, 4/19/11]

In Covering White House Meeting, Fox “Straight News” Programs Repeatedly Referred To Unauthorized Immigrants As “Illegals.” During April 19 segments reporting on a White House immigration reform meeting with business leaders, labor unions, law enforcement, members of the Cabinet, faith leaders, and elected officials, Fox's “straight news” programs repeatedly referred to unauthorized immigrants as “illegals”:

  • On America Live, Fox correspondent Molly Henneberg discussed the White House meeting on immigration reform and twice referred to unauthorized immigrants as “illegals.” [Fox News, America Live, 4/19/11]
  • Later on America Live, guest host Martha MacCallum continued the conversation on immigration reform by hosting Arizona rancher Jim Chilton. During the interview, Fox News displayed a series of “Fox Facts” on the screen. One of the captions read: “Border Patrol Apprehended 445K+ Illegals Entering The U.S. In FY 2010.” [Fox News, America Live, 4/19/11]
  • During the April 19 edition of Special Report, Henneberg continued to refer to unauthorized immigrants in the United States as “illegals.” [Fox News, Special Report, 4/19/11]

Fox: "'Anchor Babies' Debate Returns." During a segment on a U.S.-born child whose parents are unauthorized immigrants, on-screen text read: " 'Anchor Babies' Debate Returns." Fox host Jeanine Pirro, who acknowledged during the segment that the term is pejorative, nonetheless stated: "[W]e're in this conundrum that we're gonna be faced with unless we finally have some kind of border protection to stop people from coming into this country, delivering babies who are then, quote, the “anchor” that allows everyone else to come in." She added: “There's no question people are coming here to deliver their children so that they can reap the benefits of the American system.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Saturday, 3/26/11]

For the truth about Pirro's claims, click here

Brian Kilmeade Suggested “Anchor Babies” Is The Standard Term For Children Of “Illegal Immigrants.” On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade used the term “anchor babies” to describe the children of unauthorized immigrants, saying:

KILMEADE: The Arizona Senate Appropriations Committee has just passed a bill denying citizenship to children born to illegal immigrants in the United States. I sense a blowback. The birthright citizenship bill now moves to Arizona's full senate. Supporters of the measure say “anchor babies,” the term used to describe newborns whose parents are illegal immigrants, are a drain on Arizona's already strained social services and resources. Republicans are hoping the law will lead to a review of the 14th amendment by the Supreme Court. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/23/11, emphasis added]

Bill O'Reilly: “The Constitution Is Being Misused” By The Parents Of “Anchor Babies.” On his Fox News show, Bill O'Reilly attacked birthright citizenship, stating:

O'REILLY: Then there are the anchor babies born to illegal aliens on American soil. Under the 14th Amendment they automatically become citizens. Think about it: Do you think the country wanted that when it ratified the 14th Amendment in 1868? Of course not. That amendment was designed to make sure that free[d] slaves got citizenship. Now it's used to encourage foreigners to sneak across our borders to give birth. Thus the Constitution is being misused. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 1/6/11]

For the truth about the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment, click here

Fox Promulgates Attacks On Immigrants With False Talking Points

Fox & Friends Applauded Alabama Law As A Necessary “Frustration Plea” With “The Federal Government.” Discussing Alabama's recent immigration law, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. acknowledged that "[t]here are some legal issues that need to be explored" with regard to the law. He also said the law was a “frustration plea” with “the federal government” and later concluded, “There's a need for action, and Alabama is stepping in to see what they can do.” During the segment, on-screen text acknowledged that “opponents say [the] new law is motivated by bigotry” and that civil rights groups were “outraged,” but neither Johnson nor Kilmeade noted specific criticisms of the law. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/10/11]

For the truth about the Alabama immigration law, click here

Carlson Claimed “35 Percent” Of Unauthorized Immigrants Received Education Discount. On The O'Reilly Factor, Gretchen Carlson claimed that “about 35 percent of the in-state tuition people or students” at University of California schools “were illegals,” while on-screen text claimed they receive “free tuition.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 6/9/11]

For the truth about Carlson's claims, click here

Fox Repeated Claim That Undocumented Immigrants Were Responsible For Higher Crime Rates. America Live repeated the accusation that undocumented immigrants have increased crime rates in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, with correspondent Trace Gallagher saying:

GALLAGHER: Hazleton has a population of 30,000. That population has grown by 10,000 over the past decade -- 33 percent, mostly Hispanic. Now, the city leaders say those people contributed to pushing up the cost of government services and the crime rate. They passed two ordinances: one, cracking down on businesses that hire illegals, and two, cracking down on landlords that rent to illegals. [Fox News, America Live, 6/7/11]

For the truth about Gallagher's claims, click here

Fox Decides: Law Providing In-State Tuition To Some Students Regardless Of Immigration Status Is “Flawed.” Fox's “straight news” show, America's Newsroom, did a segment on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to hear a challenge to a California law that grants undocumented students who meet certain requirements in-state college tuition. In a five-minute segment during which Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) attacked the law, guest host Alisyn Camerota said to Bilbray: “It seems as though this law is flawed in a few ways.” A few minutes later, as the segment drew to a close, Camerota added: “Well, look, you've obviously made a very compelling case for what is wrong with the law. So why did the Supreme Court then endorse it yesterday?” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 6/7/11]

Sarah Palin Claimed DREAM Act “Usurps” The System. During an interview with a New York news channel, Fox contributor Sarah Palin claimed that the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide a pathway to legal status for certain undocumented immigrants, “usurps ... the system.” She further stated that the legislation perverts a legal system geared toward immigrants “who want to be here legally, working hard, producing and supplying revenue and resources for their family.” [MyFoxNY.com, 6/1/11]

For the truth about Palin's claims, click here

Fox Suggested Serial Killers May Be On The Loose If States Opt Out Of Secure Communities Program. During Fox News' coverage of Secure Communities, the deportation program begun under the Bush administration, Fox pushed the idea that opting out of the program would create “sanctuary” states, cities, and counties for dangerous undocumented immigrants, including “serial killer[s].” [Fox News, America Live, 5/31/11]

For the truth about the Secure Communities program, click here

On Fox, Lars Larson Claimed Undocumented Immigrants Commit “A Larger Proportionate Share” Of Crimes. On Fox News, conservative radio host Lars Larson claimed unauthorized immigrants are “involved in more than their share, a larger proportionate share, of criminal activity.” [Fox News, America Live, 5/31/11]

For the truth about Larson's claims, click here

Steve Doocy Used An Immigration Bust To Cast Doubt On Obama's Immigration Record. Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy said “it was just last week that the president told us far fewer people were trying to sneak into the United States. If that's true, then what's this? Dozens of immigrants cramped into a truck headed into the United States.” Doocy showed an x-ray image of the truck and said: “Yep, that's a semi.” The Fox & Friends co-hosts repeated this claim several times during the course of the show. Additionally, on-screen text during the segment referred to the incident as a “major border breach.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/19/11]

For the truth about illegal border crossings, click here

Dobbs Argued E-Verify Should Be Mandatory Because “It Works.” Lou Dobbs claimed that the E-Verify program, which allows employers to automatically check the immigration status of newly hired employees through government databases, is “99 percent effective,” and argued that the government should make it mandatory because “it works.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 5/11/11]

For the truth about the E-Verify program, click here

Eric Bolling: Immigration Reform “Can't Be Good For The Economy Any Way You Slice It.” On the May 10, 2011, edition of Glenn Beck, guest host Eric Bolling stated that immigration reform “can't be good for the economy any way you slice it.” [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 5/10/11, via Nexis]

For the truth about the economic benefits of immigration reform, click here

Doocy Agreed That The “Real Problem” With Arizona Medicaid Budget Is “The Illegal Immigrant Population.” During a segment on a possible surcharge on smoking and obesity to fill a budget shortfall with Arizona's Medicaid program, Fox News guest and former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) claimed that the “real problem” is “American taxpayers” paying for health benefits for the “illegal immigrant population.” Hayworth also stated that “what we're ignoring here is a far more obvious solution, and that is to make sure that Medicaid dollars don't go to noncitizens.” Doocy replied: “Exactly right.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/04/11]

For the truth about Arizona's Medicaid program, click here

Martha MacCallum To Arizona Rancher: “Do You Feel Like You're Surrounded?” On America Live, guest host Martha MacCallum repeatedly asked Arizona rancher Jim Chilton leading questions about whether the Obama administration was really securing the border. At one point, MacCallum asked Chilton whether he believed Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano's claim “that the border is safer than it's been in a long time.” MacCallum later asked Chilton: “Do you feel like you're surrounded?” During the segment, Fox News aired a series of “Border Security Fox Facts,” including one that stated: “Apprehensions were down 36% over the past 2 years.” [Fox News, America Live, 4/19/11]

For the truth about border security, click here

Fox & Friends Hosted Hate Group Head To Push The Myth That Women Come To U.S. Solely To Give Birth. On Fox & Friends, Gretchen Carlson introduced an interview with Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) president Dan Stein by discussing reports of alleged birth tourism. Carlson said: “Pregnant women from foreign countries [are] paying thousands of dollars to give birth in the U.S.” and asked, “So we wondered, how common is this practice?” Stein claimed it's a “routine occurrence.” He continued, tying such actions to children of undocumented immigrants who were born in the United States:

STEIN: The current interpretation [of the 14th Amendment] is defeating the operation of U.S. immigration and entry controls. We are being taken advantage of, snookered -- now 350,000 children are born here to mothers here who are illegal aliens. I mean, that's the size of the city of St. Louis. This is like waking up and finding an additional 10 people living in your house that you didn't expect all of a sudden, and we're just being taken advantage of. And to simply -- we need to change the interpretation so it's consistent with the worldwide practices that say a child takes the citizenship of the mother. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/30/11]

For the truth about Stein's claims, click here

Fox Continually Misleads On Obama Administration's Immigration Record

Fox Figures Claimed Obama Is Playing Politics On Immigration. Fox News figures suggested that President Obama isn't serious about enacting comprehensive immigration reform and is instead “trying to shore up his base” among Hispanic voters:

  • Adopting GOP guest Karen Hanretty's talking point, America's Newsroom guest co-host Heather Nauert suggested Obama's call for immigration reform is “about politics.” She later said that Obama is “really trying to shore up his base there.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 5/11/11, via Media Matters]
  • After host Bret Baier mentioned the percentage of the Hispanic vote that went to Democrats since 2006, Fox News contributor Stephen Hayes claimed that Obama's immigration speech “is all about 2012 and the president's turnout in important state[s] with high Hispanic population.” [Fox News, Special Report, 5/10/11, via Nexis]
  • On Glenn Beck, Bolling claimed that Obama's immigration speech in El Paso, Texas, was a “photo-op” and a “campaign stop.” [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 5/10/11, via Nexis]
  • On America's Newsroom, Fox News contributor Karl Rove stated: “This is more a political speech. I'm not certain this is where the president ought to be going in order to build on the image of being a strong leader. The odds of getting a comprehensive immigration reform are zero.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 5/10/11, via Media Matters]

For the truth about Fox News' claims, click here

Fox & Friends Distorted Obama's Record On Border Security. Fox & Friends repeatedly suggested that because of a joke Obama made during his May speech about immigration in El Paso, Texas, that he is not taking border security seriously. Doocy said: “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?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/11/11]

For the truth about Obama's record on border security, click here

Fox Nation Claimed It's Been “Confirmed” That “Feds Ordered Not To Arrest Illegals Coming From Mexico.” A headline on Fox Nation claimed to have “confirmed” that federal law enforcement officials have been ordered not to arrest undocumented immigrants, supposedly as a way for the government to show that the number of unauthorized immigrants crossing the border is lessening. The headline read, “CONFIRMED: Feds Ordered Not To Arrest Illegals Coming From Mexico.”


[Fox Nation, 4/19/11]

Likewise, other Fox figures hyped the story:

  • During an interview with U.S. Border Patrol deputy chief Ron Vitiello, Steve Doocy and Peter Johnson Jr. continued to suggest that the lower apprehension numbers are “proof positive” that agents are not arresting border crossers, but rather “chasing [them] back to Mexico.” Doocy later added that the allegations “make perfect sense when you look at these numbers now.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/21/11, via Media Matters]
  • During an interview with Pinal County, Arizona, Sheriff Paul Babeu, who, according to Doocy, “believes border agents are manipulating apprehension numbers,” Johnson suggested that the lower apprehension rate is “evidence that there's not really an effort going on to get these folks.” At the end of the segment, Doocy said to Babeu: "[W]e know down in your county, you actually do arrest them." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/21/11]
  • On his website, Lou Dobbs wrote a blog post titled: “Border Patrol stops arresting illegals.” In the post, Dobbs reprinted an email from a FoxNews.com article on the story and wrote: “Border agents are flooding in with support of an Arizona sheriff, confirming that the U.S. Border Patrol has effectively told them to stop apprehending illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexican border.” [LouDobbs.com, 4/19/11]
  • In the “Need to Know” section of her website, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham also promoted a FoxNews.com story using the headline, " 'Turn back south,' our dangerous policy on the border." Ingraham included an email from “one San Diego border agent” purporting to back allegations that the Border Patrol was dishonestly reducing apprehensions, which read: “Upper management has advised supervisors to have agents 'turn back South' (TBS) the illegal aliens (aka bodies) they detect attempting to unlawfully enter the country ... at times you even hear supervisors order the agents over the radio to 'TBS' the aliens instead of catching them.” [LauraIngraham.com, 4/20/11]

For the truth on apprehension numbers at the border, click here

Lou Dobbs: “There's Been A Calculated Decision Not To Enforce Immigration Law.” On The O'Reilly Factor, Lou Dobbs stated: “There's been a calculated decision not to enforce immigration law. Therefore what you are watching are employers exploiting illegal labor and the taxpayer is paying for the support services.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 4/7/11]

For the truth about Dobbs' claims, click here

Fox Acts As A Haven For, And Pushes, Anti-Immigrant Viewpoints

Fox Welcomed Arizona Sheriff Babeu To Spread Fear About Terrorists Coming Through Mexico. On America's Nightly Scoreboard, host David Asman hosted Pinal County, Arizona, sheriff Paul Babeu, who suggested there is “quite a direct link” between “the unsecured border with Mexico” and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Babeu stated that the “greatest threat to America right now beyond a doubt is the unsecured border with Mexico. Mexico is not our enemy. These cartels are the enemy, and the instability they create allows for countries of interest to send possible terrorists through Mexico. If the majority of basic illegals can make it into the United States through our unsecured border, what about people with military training?” [Fox Business, America's Nightly Scoreboard, 6/10/11, via Nexis]

  • Fox Hosted Babeu To Call For Militarizing U.S./Mexico Border. On Fox & Friends, Babeu called for militarizing the border, saying “it's gonna take armed soldiers” to “secure the border.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/21/11]
  • Fox Hosted Babeu To Call For “6,000 Armed Soldiers” To Be Deployed To Southwestern Border. On Glenn Beck, Babeu called for “6,000 armed soldiers to be deployed to the border for two years to immediately stop the flow, of not just illegal immigration, but the drug smuggling.” Babeu also stated that “what we need to do to secure the border is this novel concept called enforcing the law.” He added: “We have to prosecute anybody who comes across and breaks our laws.” [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 5/10/11]

On Fox, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Stated: “They Ought To Be Locking Up The Illegals Here” In The U.S. On Fox Business' Follow the Money, Eric Bolling hosted Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio to spread fears that the border is out of control. Arpaio stated: "[W]e've got a big problem at the border. Quit saying all these politicians we must secure the border first. And then we'll look at illegal immigration. They ought to be locking up the illegals here in the United States and not always blame the border." [Fox Business, Follow the Money, 6/10/11, via Nexis]

Lou Dobbs: “We Legalize More Citizens” Than Other Countries Because The Left Turns Anti-Illegal Immigration Into A “Racial” Issue. On his Fox Business show, Lou Dobbs claimed that “we bring in more -- more immigrants into this country legally every year than any three or four nations in the world combined. And we legalize more citizens every year than any other country in the world.” Dobbs continued:

DOBBS: This anti-illegal immigration posture that is assumed by most Americans is by the left and certain ethnocentric interest groups, trying -- they try desperately to turn it into a racial or ethnic issue, when in point of fact, they neglect to note that just about half of all of the naturalized U.S. citizens each year are Hispanic. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 5/10/11]

Chris Wallace Pressed Bloomberg On Immigration Reform With Language Of Opposition: “Isn't That Amnesty?” On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace hosted New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg to discuss immigration reform, asking him, “You support a path to citizenship. Question: Isn't that amnesty?” [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 4/24/11]

Click here for more on Fox News' long history of polarizing the debate on immigration issues