Immigration Myths

Issues ››› Immigration Myths
  • Media Take Note: Heritage Study Is Not An Analysis Of Immigration Proposal


    Media outlets are reporting that a new immigration report from the conservative Heritage Foundation found that passing the proposed Senate comprehensive immigration bill will cost $6.3 trillion. In fact, the Heritage report is not an analysis of the entire Senate's "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act," and does not take into account costs or savings of the proposal's broader reforms.

  • Anti-Immigrant Fox Guest Falsely Ties Boston Bombings To Deferred Action Program


    Fox News guest Michael Cutler, a former agent with the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Services and also a fellow at the nativist organization the Center for Immigration Studies, used the Boston Marathon bombing investigation to attack the deferred action program for undocumented students. In reality, the program, which is intended to provide deportation relief to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, is unrelated to the circumstances of the suspects' immigration status

    During a discussion with Fox News host Megyn Kelly about recent arrests in the Boston Marathon bombings, Cutler used the fact that one of the suspects reportedly was here on a student visa to attack the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. After casting doubt on the process by which asylum is granted, Cutler brought up DACA and suggested the program had similar security lapses. He asked: "Do you really think anyone is scrutinizing anything?" He also claimed that the program approves 99.5 percent of applicants: 

    In fact, those who qualify for deferred action are undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States before age 16. While the Boston bombings suspects' current immigration status is in dispute, they were reportedly in the United States under student visas and were legal non-immigrants.

    Currently, there is not a mandatory in-person screening process for DACA applicants. However, in-person interviews may be requested for applicants who are suspected of fraud and for quality assurance purposes. But the process to apply is so arduous that these applicants are heavily scrutinized. Other than the several pieces of identifying documentation needed to begin the process as well as the $465 in fees, each applicant must go through a biographic and biometric background test.

  • Fox Inadvertently Makes Case For Immigration Reform

    ››› ››› SAMANTHA WYATT

    Fox News has repeatedly invoked the Boston bombings to suggest that immigration reform could exacerbate existing problems within the immigration system. However, their commentary actually highlights shortcomings that the bipartisan Senate bill will address in full.

  • Another False Immigration Amnesty Claim: Tax Edition


    Fox News trumpeted the false claim that immigrants who receive provisional status under the immigration reform proposal would get a "tax amnesty" because the bill does not mandate they pay back taxes. In fact, the bill requires that immigrants -- at least three quarters of who already pay payroll taxes -- pay a tax liability before they can qualify for provisional legal status and ensure they pay taxes before they can renew their legal status.

    In a op-ed, Dan Stein, president of the anti-immigration Federation for American Immigration Reform, accused the bipartisan group of senators behind the bill of giving a "tax amnesty" to undocumented immigrants because the bill does not contain language addressing "back taxes" and does not explicitly explain how taxes will be assessed. He wrote that "taxes assessed" are different from "taxes owed" and there is no proof that the proposal would require immigrants to pay anything:

    While this sounds good at first blush, "taxes assessed" is not the same as "taxes owed."  A tax assessment occurs when the IRS officially records that a person owes money because an individual files a tax return, or the IRS audits an individual - whether or not he has filed a return - and records how much the person owes.

    The bill requires aliens to only pay taxes that the IRS has assessed at the time they apply for ["registered provisional immigrant"] RPI status.

    If the IRS had no knowledge that the individual had been working here, there would obviously be no tax liability assessed and the alien has nothing to satisfy for the purpose of getting RPI status.

    This claim has also received considerable attention from other nativist anti-immigrant groups.

    In fact, immigrants who apply for provisional legal status would have to pay taxes. The bill states that immigrants may not receive provisional status until any federal tax liability is satisfied in accordance with regulations to be established by the Secretary of the Treasury. This gives the IRS the discretion to decide how a tax liability will be administered to immigrants seeking the legal status. If an immigrant is granted legal status they would still be required to pay taxes during that period as well.  

  • Fox Nation Falsely Equates "Amnesty" With Pathway To Earned Citizenship

    Blog ››› ››› MIKE BURNS

    Fox Nation falsely equated "amnesty," a term shown to produce negative reactions, with a pathway to earned citizenship for undocumented immigrants. In fact, a pathway to earned citizenship would require immigrants illegally in the U.S. to meet a number of requirements before applying for citizenship.

    On April 24, Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a speech to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund in which he said, "creating a pathway to earned citizenship" for undocumented immigrants is "a matter of civil and human rights." Fox Nation highlighted the speech under the headline "Holder Calls Amnesty a 'Civil Right.' " In its post, however, Fox Nation reported that Holder said "creating a 'pathway to earned citizenship' was a 'civil right.' "

    Fox Nation equated "amnesty" with a pathway to earned citizenship, but the two are not the same. To get on a pathway to earned citizenship, undocumented immigrants would have to face a number of hurdles, including completing a registration process, paying fines and taxes, and studying English. 

    Indeed, the comprehensive immigration reform proposal introduced in the Senate on April 17 by a bipartisan group of senators includes numerous conditions undocumented immigrants must meet before they can apply for citizenship, along with waiting a minimum of 13 years. That legislation has been repeatedly attacked by conservative media as "amnesty," even though immigration experts dispute the claim. 

    Fox has a long history of labeling immigration policies "amnesty," a term that has been shown to produce a more negative reaction than describing a policy as "a path to citizenship."

  • Boston Bombings Inspire New Lies On Immigration Reform From Conservative Media

    ››› ››› SAMANTHA WYATT

    Conservative media figures are using the Boston Marathon bombings to pressure lawmakers to halt attempts at immigration reform, the details of which were released last week by eight bi-partisan members of the Senate known as the "Gang of Eight." By suggesting that immigration reform could facilitate future terrorist attacks, right-wing media are attempting to obstruct legislation that a majority of Americans support.

  • 5 Immigration Experts Who Denounce Right-Wing Radio's "Amnesty" Claim

    Blog ››› ››› SOLANGE UWIMANA

    Immigration experts dispute right-wing radio claims that the comprehensive immigration reform proposal is "amnesty." Indeed, the legislation introduced in the Senate on April 17 by a bipartisan group of senators includes a number of provisions undocumented immigrants would have to meet before they could apply for citizenship -- along with waiting at a minimum 13 years.

    To attack the legislation, conservative radio talk hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham are claiming that the immigration proposal is "amnesty" and that undocumented immigrants would not have to earn citizenship. In fact, the bill places a number of conditions on undocumented immigrants before they could apply for citizenship. Moreover, the federal government would have to meet several border enforcement guidelines before undocumented immigrants could take advantage of such a path.

    Here are five immigration experts who also dispute right-wing radio claims that the proposal is "amnesty":

  • Right-Wing Radio Renew False Cries Of "Amnesty" To Attack Immigration Bill

    Blog ››› ››› SOLANGE UWIMANA

    Right-wing radio talk hosts are attacking the comprehensive immigration reform proposal as "amnesty," claiming undocumented immigrants will not have to earn citizenship. In fact, immigrants here illegally would face a number of hurdles before they could even apply for permanent residency under the bill, including paying fees, fines, and taxes.

    On her syndicated radio show, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham repeatedly claimed that the Senate bill -- introduced on April 17 as the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act" -- is "amnesty" because, according to her, undocumented immigrants will not be punished for breaking the law. She further stated: "This is amnesty. Within six months, every single person here illegally gets to be RPI. RPI is the provisional immigrant status. You get that in six months after the bill is signed."

    Rush Limbaugh also attacked the bill as "amnesty" on his radio show.

    In fact, the bill places a number of conditions on undocumented immigrants before they can apply for citizenship -- which is contingent upon the federal government meeting several border enforcement guidelines. Moreover, not all would qualify.