Fox Uses 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, bash President Obama, and refer to undocumented immigrants as “illegals.”

Obama Holds White House Meeting On Immigration Reform

Obama Holds Meeting With Business Leaders, Labor Unions, Law Enforcement, Members Of The Cabinet, Faith Leaders, And Elected Officials On Immigration. On April 19, Obama convened a bipartisan meeting with labor, business, political, and religious leaders to discuss immigration reform. From The New York Times:

Among those attending were Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, an independent; Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio, a Democrat; and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, a Republican.

Two big-city police chiefs, Raymond W. Kelly of New York and Charles Ramsey of Philadelphia, were there, as was Sheryl Sandberg, a top executive at Facebook, and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, the largest group of evangelical Christians.


In the closed meeting, Mr. Obama argued that the overhaul would bring immigrant entrepreneurs to the United States and was a crucial piece of the economic recovery, according to several people who attended. He sought views on whether to try to pass smaller pieces of the massive overhaul, such as a bill that would give legal status to illegal immigrant students, or one that would increase visas for highly skilled foreign workers.

The president asked for help to “change the debate” to attract Republicans to support the bill. He said he could not pass the overhaul “if I am leading the debate alone,” according to a White House statement. [The New York Times, 4/20/11]

Obama Administration Vows To Continue To Look For Ways To “Secure The Borders, And Enhance Our Enforcement Strategy.” From a blog post on the April 19 immigration reform meeting:

As we work toward immigration reform, the Administration will continue to look for ways to improve our legal immigration system, secure the borders, and enhance our enforcement strategy so that it is smarter and more effective at removing criminals and prosecuting unscrupulous employers. But enforcement alone will not solve our immigration problem. We need reform that affirms our history as both a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants -- and to do that, we need to work together to pass legislation. [, 4/20/11]

Fox “Straight News” Program America Live Uses WH Meeting To Fearmonger About Undocumented Immigrants Crossing U.S.-Mexico Border

Fox's MacCallum To Arizona Rancher: “Do You Feel Like You're Surrounded?” During the April 19 edition of America Live, 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?”

From the April 19 edition of Fox News' America Live:

MacCALLUM: You hear from Janet Napolitano -- she claims that the border is safer than it's been in a long time sir in terms of the resources that they've put down there. What do you say to her?

CHILTON: In ways it is safer particularly where they've put up walls near cities like El Paso and Nogales. It is safer there. But what's happened is that drug traffic, the cartels, the people smugglers have moved, in our case west. And it's much more organized now. The cartels now run everything I'm told by the border patrol. The cartels are the ones that bring people into the country as people smugglers and they are forcing them to bring drugs.


MacCALLUM: You know, it's just incredible to listen to the way that you live. You know, not only do you have people crossing over the border and you're worried about them robbing your house, but you're looking at a guy who's got binoculars who's up on your hill, and he's a spotter for these folks. Do you feel like you're surrounded?

CHILTON: Yes, we are. To the south of our house, seven scouts have been taken off of Rowita [ph] Peak. To the northwest of our house, only a mile-and-a-half away, a friend of mine chased some scouts off the top of the mountain, and they left AK 47 shells and a Smith & Wesson pistol. [Fox News, America Live, 4/19/11]

Fox Highlights Misleading “Fox Fact” That Border “Apprehensions Were Down 36% Over The Past 2 Years.” During the America Live segment with Chilton, 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]

In Fact, “The U.S.-Mexico Border Is More Fortified Now Than It Was Even Five Years Ago”

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.” [Associated Press, 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 Committee on Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol chief Michael Fisher stated: “Currently we have over 20,000 Border Patrol Agents nationwide, more than ever before in the history of the country.” [House Homeland Security Committee Hearing, 7/22/10]

Based on Department of Homeland Security data, The Arizona Republic created the following chart showing the increase in border patrol agents since 2001.

AZ Republic chart

[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, border drug seizures have increased 16 percent. USA Today also reported that "[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 2/14/11]

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]

Obama Administration Has Cracked Down On Employers That Knowingly Hire Illegal Immigrants. The Los Angeles Times reported on January 27:

Under Obama, cases against employers are up sharply: Immigration and Customs Enforcement quadrupled the number of employer audits after Obama took office, increasing the number of inspections and arrests against those who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. Businesses were fined $6.9 million in fiscal 2010, up from $675,000 in 2008. [Los Angeles Times, 1/27/11]

In Covering WH Meeting, Fox “Straight News” Programs Refer To Undocumented Immigrants As “Illegals”

America Live: “Democrats' View Of Immigration Reform” Includes “A Pathway To Citizenship For Illegals.” During the April 19 edition of America Live, Fox correspondent Molly Henneberg discussed the White House meeting on immigration reform. During the segment, Henneberg repeatedly referred to undocumented immigrants as “illegals.” From America Live:

HENNENBERG: (Fox News correspondent): Hi, Martha, a possible game changer in part because the latest census shows Hispanics and Latinos are now the largest minority in the U.S. The White House says the purpose of the closed door meeting today is to discuss fixing our nation's broken immigration system. As administration officials have suggested that the president may renew the immigration legislation, quote, “soon.”

The participants include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, democratic Mayor of San Antonio Julian Castro and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. President Obama has chided Republicans for not getting on board with the Democrats' view of immigration reform which is a pathway to citizenship for illegals and border security, saying last night, quote, “The question is going to be, are we going to be able to find some Republicans who can partner with me and others to get this done once and for all instead of using it as political football?”

Republicans have long held that a path to citizenship for illegals should come after the U.S. does more to secure it borders. One former GOP White House senior adviser does not think immigration will go anywhere in Congress before the 2012 election, but that says that 2012 Republican candidates will have to tread carefully. [Fox News, America Live, 4/19/11, emphasis added]

“Fox Facts” Referred To Undocumented Immigrants As “llegals.” During Tuesday's segment of America Live, MacCallum continued the conversation on immigration reform by hosting Arizona rancher Jim Chilton. During the interview with Chilton, Fox News displayed a series of “Fox Facts” on the screen. One of the captains read: “Border Patrol Apprehended 445K+ Illegals Entering The U.S. In FY 2010.” From The April 19 edition of Fox News' America Live:


[Fox News, America Live, 4/19/11]

Special Report: “Democrats Want A Pathway To Citizenship For Illegals And Also Border Security.” During the April 19 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Henneberg continued to refer to undocumented immigrants in the Untied States as “illegals.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 4/19/11]

Fox News' Website, Fox Nation, Also Referred To Undocumented Immigrants As “Illegals.” In an April 19 post, Fox News' website, Fox Nation, highlighted a story, but gave it a new headline that included the word “illegals”:


[Fox Nation, 4/19/11]