Fox News immigration
Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Fox leaned into dehumanizing and vile rhetoric about migrants most days in January

  • At least one Fox News personality or guest made a vile, dehumanizing comment about migrants almost every day in January, when members of Congress were negotiating the now-dead bill on immigration reform. Some on Fox parroted the white supremacist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, arguing that the Biden administration’s true aim was to allow immigrants to “invade” the country as a means of creating a new political supermajority. Meanwhile, others argued that a so-called “open borders” policy is welcoming “criminals, rapists, and murderers,” into the country.

  • Fox News pushed xenophobic and derogatory rhetoric about migrants amid a border bill battle in Congress

    • Fox News cheered the destruction of the bipartisan border bill even before the bill’s text became public. The doomed bill, which Senate Republicans eventually blocked, contained a number of GOP policy demands, such as provisions that would make claiming asylum more difficult, the expansion of detention capacity with funds for extra beds, and a provision that would have forced federal authorities to automatically reject asylum applicants when border encounters reached certain levels. [NPR, 2/7/24; NBC News, 2/24/24; Media Matters, 1/11/24; Media Matters, 1/29/24
    • Fox News has a long history of fearmongering about immigration by dehumanizing migrants, whom its hosts and guests have described as criminals and potential terrorists. The network has consistently fearmongered that terrorists may enter the border because of lax immigration policies and accused migrants of crimes like murder and sexual assault. [Media Matters, 11/13/23; Media Matters, 4/27/22; Media Matters, 7/12/22]
    • Fox has also propagated the bigoted and xenophobic “great replacement” conspiracy theory, which alleges that “elites” encourage illegal immigration to bring nonwhite people into the country to “replace” white voters. This false narrative has led to real-world violence, including mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Buffalo, New York. [Media Matters, 5/15/23; Southern Poverty Law Center, 5/12/23]
  • Fox News spent January pushing the “great replacement” conspiracy theory and telling its audience that migrants are potential terrorists who are invading the country and committing crimes

  • January 2

    • White nationalist and former Trump adviser Stephen Miller fearmongered about “foreign spies” coming over the border “stealing our secrets'' and “feeding information to our foes.'' He asked, “How many foreign spies, that maybe we could have stopped at an airport, that maybe we could have stopped through normal migration channels, how many committing espionage, stealing our secrets, feeding information to our foes, have come through that border over the last three years, among the nearly 10 million that have invaded into our society?” [Fox News, Hannity, 1/2/24]

    January 3

    • Fox News contributor Deroy Murdock argued that Democrats have welcomed millions of “illegal aliens” who have “broken into our country” and “invaded without papers, without visas, without passports” as a ploy to engineer “their next margin of victory.” He said, “They’re here because Biden and the rest of the Democrats want them here, and I think their hope is that, sooner or later, it may be sooner than we think, these people will be voting and at least 51% of them would be voting Democrat. I think the entire intention is to bring in what they consider is their next margin of victory. I can’t think of any other reason they’re doing this.” [Fox News, The Story, 1/3/24]

    January 6

    • Fox News host Pete Hesgeth called migrants coming across the southern border a “drag on the system” and baselessly claimed that “none of the people coming across the border qualify for asylum.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/6/24]

    January 7

    • Fox News host Mark Levin blamed “open borders” and a lack of “assimilation” by migrants for the “destruction of our national sovereignty, the dumbing down of citizenship and the destruction of our schools — the destruction of our culture.” [Fox News, Life, Liberty, and Levin, 1/7/24]

    January 8

    • Fox News contributor Sara Carter claimed that it is “absolutely guaranteed — guaranteed — there are terror cells that made their way into our country with a wide-open border policy.” [Fox News, Hannity, 1/8/24]

    January 10

    • Echoing the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, Fox News host Laura Ingraham said, “This importation of migrants is the Democrats’ policy. Changing America demographically, electorally, culturally, is their goal — and they're achieving it.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/10/24]

    January 11

    • Fox guest Victor Davis Hanson alleged that there could be “sleeper agents” coming in as migrants. Hanson said he did not have “knowledge of whether there are” such agents, but insisted, “There is a very real possibility there is somebody who wants to harm our country could already be here.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/11/24]

    January 12

    • Stephen Miller fearmongered that President Biden was using “federal taxpayer dollars to take illegal aliens and resettle them in all 50 states” and thereby “funding our own destruction.” Miller called upon the House of Representatives to pass legislation that would make it “clear that not one federal penny can be used to release or resettle one illegal alien inside the United States.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/12/24]

    January 13

    • Mark Levin: “The borders are wide open. Criminals are coming across. Terrorists are trying to come across. Fentanyl is coming across. Thousands of people are dying and so forth.” [Fox News, Life, Liberty, and Levin, 1/13/24]

    January 14

    • On Sunday Morning Futures, host Maria Bartiromo provided no pushback to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) when she baselessly claimed that Democrats aimed to “replace Americans with millions and millions of illegal aliens.” Greene said, “Democrats are going to bring in millions and millions of illegals and turn them into Democrat voters. That’s their plan, is to replace Americans with millions and millions of illegal aliens.”  [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 1/14/24]

    January 15

    • Laura Ingraham: “The invasion at the southern border has already fundamentally changed America.[Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/15/24

    January 17

    • Jesse Watters said that “migrants are turning their children into little bandits -— banditos”  whom they send into “stores to steal food and clothes.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 1/17/24]

    January 19

    • Tammy Bruce argued that a Biden administration policy allowing asylum-seekers to use a government-run app that tracks and collects their biometric information in lieu of physical identification would welcome those on “terror watch lists” and “criminals, rapists, and murderers” into the U.S.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 1/19/24; Media Matters, 1/25/24

    January 20

    • Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Pete Hegseth callously joked, “If you want to secure the border, a moat with crocodiles, that’s what I think you should have.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 1/20/24

    January 21

    • During an interview with Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Bartiromo suggested the border was filled with “murder” and “fentanyl poisoning.” She added, “We’re talking about 10 million illegals coming into America on President Biden’s watch.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 1/21/24

    January 22

    • Conservative commentator Dave Rubin argued that those depicted in border-crossing videos on Fox were not “migrants” because “we have no idea what these people are here for.” He said, “They aren't migrants because that implies they are only here for work. We have no idea what these people are here for. We just don't know. Why is it that they all appear to be 25 to 35 year-old generally men. Where are the women, the children? These aren't the pictures of Ellis Island of our grandparents and great grandparents — the poor, the tired, the huddled masses — coming with nothing. Look around. Most of these people are fairly well dressed.”  [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 1/22/24

    January 23

    • Fox contributor Lawrence Jones said he was “very disappointed” with the Supreme Court for prohibiting Texas from blocking federal agents at the border: “My state has been invaded by people we don’t know where they are coming from.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/23/24, 6:54; Texas Tribune, 1/22/24]

    January 24

    • Fox News host Sean Hannity claimed that migrants staying at a “former Catholic school turned illegal immigrant intake center” in New York City were turning the “neighborhood into one big giant open air balloon.” He also claimed that “nearly all of New York City has been impacted and affected by the border crisis.” [Fox News, Hannity, 1/24/24

    January 25

    • Jesse Watters played a video supposedly showing migrants illegally approaching a California shore by boat, commenting, “These foreigners have no right to break into our country. That’s not immigration. What you’re seeing on the screen is what every country in the world calls an invasion.” Watters also blamed migrants for the “drugs, sex, and human smuggling, and all of the crime and devastation associated with that is violent. That’s what violence is.[Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 1/25/24

    January 26

    • Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett suggested that migrants are harming Americans “every day with home intrusions, assaults, property damage, thefts, deadly drugs.” Jarrett further claimed, “This is a de facto invasion aided and abetted by President Joe Biden.” [Fox News, Hannity, 1/26/24

    January 27

    • Oak Brook, Illinois, police chief Brian Strockis said, “The effects of illegal migrants coming here and exploiting certain elements of this country and not embracing it is certainly felt by cities smaller than Chicago and other areas where they’re staying.” Strockis also claimed his department was responding to an “increase in illegal migrants coming out and committing retail thefts and burglaries.[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/27/24] 

    January 28

    • Former acting director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Tom Homan fearmongered about “2 million gotaways,” migrants who supposedly crossed the border undetected, arguing that many of them were “criminals,” “gang members,” “people sex trafficking women and children,” and “suspected terrorists.” “This is the biggest national security failure I’ve seen in this country since 9/11,” Homan added. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/28/24

    January 29

    • Former FBI assistant director Chris Swecker claimed that unvetted people crossing the border “represents … the greatest threat in our lifetime.” He said, “Border security is national security. You have to know who’s coming into this country. And again, we just can’t vet these people that are coming in. It represents, as I said earlier, the greatest threat in our lifetime.” [Fox News, America Reports, 1/29/24

    January 30

    • Watters to the leader of a far-right paramilitary group that claims to provide “intelligence and security services” to Border Patrol:  “Thank you for doing what Joe Biden won’t do, which is actually repel illegal aliens — many of them appear to be criminal from what you’re telling me — back below our southern border.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 1/30/24; High Country News, 3/13/19]

    January 31

    • During an interview on Hannity, founder of the vigilante group the Guardian Angels Curtis Silwa — whom Hannity described as a friend — said that “If the government isn’t going to do it in Washington and the mayor in New York City is not going to deal with these illegal aliens who form gangs, then we the Guardian Angels will deal with them.” In response to an instance in which a New York City police officer was supposedly beaten by “illegal gang members,” Silwa argued that “the cops should have had their nightsticks, they could have given them a wooden shampoo, hit them in their shins, hit them in their kneecaps, they wouldn’t have been able to run anywhere. [Fox News, Hannity, 1/31/24; CBS News, 2/7/24]