For the first half of 2022, Fox News’ coverage of migrants and immigration has been a cesspool of racist conspiracy theories, fearmongering, and oft-debunked narratives.
Fox News has a well-documented history of egregious immigration reporting and coverage. In 2021, over a 12-week period, Fox fearmongered and complained about migrants in 693 segments. The vast majority of these segments framed migrants as a threat to Americans, pushing racist lies that painted migrants as a financial burden and a danger to the public.
Fox has also created waves of right-wing hysteria with its persistent and dramatic coverage of migrant caravans traveling to the U.S. southern border. Even some Fox News “straight news” reporters have been instrumental in the channel’s anti-immigration propagandizing; correspondents William La Jeunesse, Griff Jenkins, and Bill Melugin have all had a hand in spreading immigration disinformation and disguising it as news.
In 2022, Fox News continues to peddle lies and conspiracy theories about migrants, despite repeated debunks and fact checks. Migrant flights, Title 42, supposed invasions, caravans, President Joe Biden’s purportedly “open border,” and the “great replacement” theory are constant talking points on the right-wing network.
Migrant resettlement flights
Fox News personalities have repeatedly attacked the Biden administration over migrant resettlement flights, falsely claiming that the flights are “secret” and are being used to place immigrants around the country in an illegal or inappropriate manner.
In reality, flights resettling migrant children have been standard policy under many U.S. presidents, including Barack Obama and Donald Trump. These flights are not “secret” or “ghost flights,” and as New York Times reporter Miriam Jordan points out, these flights occur because the government has a legal responsibility to find shelter for migrant kids.
- On the January 3 edition of Fox News Primetime, Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren stated that the “mission is to import their future voters,” complaining that the U.S. is “footing the bill for people who have no legal right to be here.” She also called the practice “Biden-era flights, ghost flights.”
- On April 4, Fox News host Tucker Carlson and contributor Miranda Devine discussed the resettlement flights, with Carlson claiming that Biden is utilizing these flights to “transform someone's country without the consent of the governed.”
- On the June 7 edition of Fox & Friends, New York gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino implied suspicious activity, saying of bags carried by arriving migrants in a video he tweeted, “I don't know what's in those duffel bags. It's probably, maybe dinero from the U.S. government because they get a free phone when they get across the Rio Grande.” Co-host Brian Kilmeade also referred to this practice as “secret migrant flights.”
In 2022, Fox News went on a tear fearmongering about the supposed devastating consequences of Title 42’s end. Title 42, a policy forcing deportation of migrants that was invoked by the Trump administration for what officials claimed were public health reasons, has been described as “scientifically baseless” by public health experts. Biden’s plan to terminate the controversial policy was blocked by a Trump-appointed federal judge.
- Suggesting that ending Title 42 would create an unprecedented surge of migrants, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy falsely claimed on April 6 that the number of people who “stream across the border” on a daily basis is “bigger than Salina, Kansas, was when I was a little boy, I believe. So it’s like one Salina coming in every day.”
- On April 6’s Faulkner Focus, Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner defended Title 42, asking Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) “why in the world” we should end “something that protects us from COVID at the border.”
- Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz complained on the March 31 episode of Faulkner Focus that ending Title 42 will be “opening the door” and “enabling the drug cartels” and other illegal activity by people who are “swarming the border,” saying it will “absolutely change the trajectory and the face of America in all the wrong way.”
Migrant caravans and “invasions”
In 2022, Fox News has continued to air spurious coverage of migrant caravans and migrant “invasions.” Fox has been drumming up panic about migrant caravans and “invasions” for years. In reality, the Biden administration has openly turned these caravans away, telling a Honduran caravan, “There's help on the way, but now is not the time to make the journey.” Furthermore, calling immigration an invasion is racist and inaccurate, and Fox News does it to fire up its viewers ahead of elections.
- Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade fearmongered on June 6 about a migrant caravan composed of over 10,000 people, claiming that “two thirds of” them “are women and children who then become our responsibility to clothe, to food, to school” without pointing out that the caravan contained less than 5% of migrants halted at the border in the month of April.
- Over a three-day period in early July, Fox News personalities and guests fearmongered that the Texas border was facing an “invasion” 20 times.
- In April, Fox News turned a report saying that 23 people whose names had matched those on a terror watchlist had been apprehended at the southern border into a way to spread panic about terrorism, even though these individuals were not allowed to come into the country.
The Biden administration's supposed “open border” policies
Fox News has repeatedly attacked the Biden administration for supposedly having an “open border” policy. The Biden administration does not have an open border policy. Not only did his administration oversee a year of the lowest admittance of refugees since 1980 in 2021, but Biden has been criticized for keeping some Trump-era immigration policies, and one of his actions on immigration last year was the mass deportation of Haitian migrants, despite having designated them for protected status months prior. His effort to end Title 42 was stopped by a federal judge.
- Stephen Miller, architect of Trump’s hardline immigration policies, appeared on Life, Liberty, and Levin and spoke of a hypothetical situation where a high school kid takes a drug, and doesn’t realize it is “laced with fentanyl … and then they are dead, and the parents lose their kid. That’s because of Joe Biden and choices he made because his party wants open borders.”
- Fox News weaponized the tragic deaths of 53 migrants in San Antonio to claim Biden has open borders.
- On America’s Newsroom on June 14, National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd argued that Biden’s administration was “filled with activists” who “want the open borders. They do not care about what's happening right now.”
- Fox News contributor Sean Duffy claimed that Biden “wants an open border policy. He's playing to the far left of his party,” and he claimed that if Biden’s son Hunter overdosed on drugs that had come over the border, it would be closed.
The “great replacement theory”
The white nationalist “great replacement” theory that non-white immigrants are replacing white people has spurred supporters to commit atrocities, but it remains at the heart of Fox News’ anti-immigration agenda and coverage, paired with claims that Democrats or others are driving this shift for electoral purposes. This theory is factually baseless, as non-white immigrants are not anywhere close to outnumbering native-born Americans, and there’s no evidence of a plot by Democrats or others to replace white people with non-white immigrants.
- Fox News hosts, contributors, and guests alike have espoused the “great replacement” theory in 2022, connecting immigration with a supposed Democratic Party scheme to turn migrants into Democratic voters.
- Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren echoed the theory in May on Outnumbered by warning that “they want to bring in as many [immigrants] as possible, change the voting rules and regulations, provide amnesty, and get these people voting.”
- Tucker Carlson doubled down on his promotion of the theory right after the May 14 Buffalo, New York, mass shooting, claiming, “The Democratic Party has decided that rather than convince you, people who are born here, that their policies are helping you in making the country better and stronger, they will change the electorate.”
- On the March 14 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, Stephen Miller linked immigration with the supposed coming fall of American civilization.