During Fox News’ town hall with 2020 Democratic candidate Julian Castro, co-moderator Martha MacCallum falsely claimed that 90% of immigrants who are detained and then released “do not ever show up for their court date.” MacCallum’s comment echoed a stat also used by Fox opinion contributor Tom Homan, whom President Donald Trump recently named as his border czar.
On the May 10 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, Homan referenced congressional testimony that acting Executive Associate ICE Director Nathalie Asher gave two days earlier to comment that “almost nine out of 10” undocumented or asylum-seeking families “aren’t making it to court” for their hearings. However, the figure was only related to a Trump administration pilot program launched in late 2018 to expedite asylum cases; in contrast, per Asher’s testimony, the traditional program for these families “is effective in ensuring that its vetted participants show up to specified hearings” -- with just 27.4% of families failing to appear for their court dates. Multiple studies have also shown that over 90% of asylum-seekers in several categories actually do appear for their court hearings.
Until Homan rejoins the Trump administration -- as the president announced during a June 14 Fox & Friends interview -- he is a Fox News contributor, a part of the “opinion” division that executives claim is separate from the “news” division. However, MacCallum, a Fox “news”-side anchor, repeated the same false claim during the town hall, noting that 90% of the people detained at the border “do not ever show up for their court date once they’ve been apprehended and released.” Castro said he wanted to “dispute” the figure and mentioned the Obama-era Family Case Management Program, which he said saw a “more than a 98% return rate” for immigrants going to court. MacCallum’s responded, “It doesn’t sound like there’s anyone that you wouldn’t let in. I mean, is there anyone you wouldn’t let in?”
As with earlier Fox News Democratic town halls, Fox & Friends quickly used Castro’s appearance to attack him as a radical leftist, this time on immigration. Co-host Brian Kilmeade denounced Castro’s plan for what he called “wide-open borders” and mocked him for “going back in time to 1929” for mentioning that the U.S. traditionally didn’t criminalize people for crossing the border illegally but treated such acts as civil violations. And the clip reel the show assembled consistently cut Castro off mid-sentence, denying the audience his policy explanations and allowing the hosts to tear down a leftist caricature.
Fox has been using its Democratic town halls to both attack liberals and keep the network financially sound amid controversy about its prime-time lineup pushing dangerous conspiracy theories and unabashed white supremacy. A Democratic town hall featuring a false anti-immigrant talking point from Fox News’ go-to immigration misinformer -- who is also a former and possibly returning Trump border official -- should be a red flag for any non-conservative considering appearing on the network.