Fox News Amplifies Anti-Immigrant Message Meant To Divide Latinos, African-Americans

Fox News amplified an anti-immigrant group's message that immigration reform will negatively impact African-Americans and repeated the debunked claim that the Senate immigration bill is a “job killer.” In fact, the claim that immigrants steal jobs from African-Americans has been discredited as “a pernicious myth,” and economists agree that the Senate bill is a net benefit for the economy. 

During a segment highlighting the “DC March for Jobs,” an anti-immigrant rally sponsored by the Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA), Fox News host Jon Scott stated that the group is “opposed to amnesty for some 11 million illegal immigrants and they say they are calling the Senate plans a job killer.”

Scott proceeded to air comments Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) made at the rally in which he claimed that those who say the Senate immigration reform bill is good for the economy “are misrepresenting the truth.” Brooks added: “It makes things worse economically. It makes things worse from an immigration standpoint.”

Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron also parroted BALA's claims, including that “the immigration reform bill as passed in the Senate would take away jobs from low-income, particularly black Americans.” The segment then segued to remarks from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who falsely claimed at the rally that if the Senate bill were to pass, “wages would ... go down, unemployment would go up,” and economic output per capita “would be down for 25 years.” 

What Fox failed to mention, however, is that BALA “is just the latest incarnation of a shifting series of front groups for the anti-immigrant nativist group FAIR, which has been trying for years to drive a wedge between African Americans and Latinos." The group is rooted in the anti-immigrant, nativist tradition of the John Tanton network that includes designated hate groups with ties to white supremacist foundations.

Moreover, its claims about immigration reform have been thoroughly discredited by economic research.

As the Immigration Policy Center concluded following a comprehensive study of immigration's impact on minority workers, “there is no correlation between the size of the foreign-born population and the African American unemployment rate in U.S. metropolitan areas.”

Economist Daniel Griswold with the Cato Institute has called the claim that low-skilled immigrants harm the employment prospects of African-Americans a “pernicious myth.” In congressional testimony, he explained that as “with most other Americans, few African Americans compete directly with immigrant workers,” and added:

My own research at the Cato Institute shows that the growth of Hispanic immigration has not had a negative effect on lower-income African Americans. In fact, the evidence from the past 20 years shows that as immigrants have moved in, native-born Americans, including African Americans, have generally moved up.

Numerous studies over the years have confirmed these findings. 

In a report on the Senate immigration bill, the Congressional Budget Office found that slight reductions in average wages for much of the next two decades caused by the bill's passage would mostly be felt by newly legalized immigrants earning lower wages, and would likely not impact current U.S. residents.

The Senate bill would also cut close to $1 trillion from the federal deficit over the next two decades while increasing economic output by 5.4 percent over the same time period, CBO said. 

Civil rights leaders have repudiated BALA's message and rejected the group's claims. Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, has noted that “actual civil rights leaders view immigration reform as a defining civil and human rights issue of our time.” He has blasted BALA as a group of “opportunists” who are using “the economic challenges of the African-American community as cover for ideological and political extremism.”