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Officials of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are rounding up immigrants and immigrant rights activists, and terrorizing communities across America. None of this should be considered normal.
Here are just a handful of these nightmarish stories:
A 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy was on her way to a hospital in an ambulance to receive emergency gallbladder surgery when ICE officials apprehended her. (Her deportation proceedings are "ongoing.")
Immigrant rights activist Ravidath Ragbir was being taken into custody by ICE in New York City when he fainted. His wife accompanied Ragbir as he was taken the hospital. ICE officials took the couple to one hospital, ditched Ragbir’s wife there alone, and sped off with her husband to another hospital. Ragbir was then taken to two different detention centers before finally ending up at Krome Detention Center in Florida the same day to await deportation. (A federal judge recently granted Ragbir a stay.)
Syed Ahmed Jamal, a chemistry teacher who has lived in the U.S. for more than 30 years, was getting ready to take his daughter to school outside his house when ICE agents detained him and led him away in handcuffs. (He has since been granted temporary stay.)
Lukasz Niec, a doctor, was brought to the United States when he was just 5 years old by his parents from Poland. He had a renewed green card and has lived in the country for nearly 40 years. ICE officials detained him and he is awaiting possible deportation. (He is currently in deportation proceedings.)
ICE agents are reportedly stopping worshippers as they go to church and interrogating them about their immigration status.
Ninety-two Somali people "were shackled with chains on their wrists, waists, and legs for more than 40 hours; forced to urinate in bottles or on themselves" on an ICE-chartered flight to Somalia. The Intercept reported that "ICE officers beat and threatened some passengers," which ICE has denied. The 92 were flown back and are now being held at the Krome Detention Center and the Glades County Detention Center in Florida, as their lawyers are fighting their deportion orders.
During the George W. Bush administration, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 set the wheels in motion for creation of ICE in 2003. Bush’s approach to immigration “tended to reflect the philosophy that all unauthorized immigrants in America ought to feel that deportation was a possibility at any given time.” Over 10 million people were deported during his tenure. When Obama took office, he “used a strategy called ‘prosecutorial discretion’ to prioritize the deportation of certain types of immigrants (especially those convicted of crimes) and discourage deporting others (like parents of US citizen children).” But still over 5 million people were deported when he was president.
Though both Bush and Obama administrations set the precedents for President Donald Trump to follow, the Trump administration seems to have adopted the Bush-era policies as the stories above show. In fact, as The Washington Post reported, the “agency made 37,734 ‘noncriminal’ arrests in the government’s 2017 fiscal year, more than twice the number in the previous year. And its reach is only expanding, as the ICE officials look into the possibility of joining the intelligence community.
When right-wing media, most notably Fox News, talk about ICE, they treat ICE’s actions as normal and even worthy of praise. It's no coincidence that Trump, who relies on Fox News, invited an ICE agent to the State of the Union and called him “brave.”
What ICE is doing across the country is nothing short of dehumanizing. That’s the real story.
Video edited by John Kerr and Miles Le
Fox News has been trying to normalize white supremacy for years. But since Donald Trump’s election, hosts, guests, and contributors on Fox are now openly defending white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
Everyone is well aware that Trump has been continually signaling his support to white supremacists since the 2016 presidential campaign. He retweets them, refuses to immediately disavow them, and even defends them. And Fox News is right there to validate him at every turn.
Fox News personalities repeat his talking points without question (and he repeats theirs). They claim that Trump has done everything he can to condemn these groups and everyone should accept it. They tell viewers to be more understanding of where neo-Nazis are coming from, but don't extend the same empathy to NFL athletes who have been peacefully protesting racial injustice by taking the knee during the pre-game national anthem. They praise Trump for not jumping to any conclusions. They make ridiculous comparisons that falsely equate white supremacists with minority groups fighting for equal rights. Fox host Tucker Carlson has even promoted a social media app that’s been called “a haven for white nationalists.”
When white supremacists hear the White House and a major news network repeating and amplifying their ideas, they rejoice because, according to Heidi Beirich at the Southern Poverty Law Center, “It builds their ranks ... because instead of being considered racist kooks by the majority of people, if their ideas are verified in places like Fox News or places like Breitbart, whatever the case might be, they have something to point to say I’m not extreme.” Beirich has called Fox News “the biggest mainstreamer of extremist ideas” and explained that “the horror of this is that people turn on their TV they go to cable, [they] assume this has got to be mainstream," but “what you find is radical right ideas being pushed on Fox.”
Since white supremacists and neo-Nazis “are deeply involved in politics, [and] are a constituency that is being pandered to at the highest level of political office,” and because Fox News is elevating their movement, Beirich urges mainstream outlets to “talk about their ideas, … to talk about the domestic terrorism that’s inspired by white supremacy, and … about hate crimes.”
A Media Matters study counted the number of instances in which cable and broadcast news programs used, without pushback, the anti-immigrant slur "illegal immigrant" or variations of the term to describe undocumented immigrants, a practice that has been increasingly rejected by journalistic organizations, style critics, and other institutions. Starting from then-presidential candidate Donald Trump's September 2016 speech on immigration that used the slur through his election and into the transition, Media Matters found variations of "illegal immigrant" used on both evening and Sunday cable and broadcast news shows: ABC was the only network to avoid using such terminology entirely, while Fox News was by far the worst offender.
The Latino population is growing at the second-fastest rate in the country, meaning that the United States of the future will be increasingly Hispanic. But for television news, 2016 was a year in which Latinos were underrepresented -- even in conversations about Latinos -- misidentified, or simply not included.
In 2015, the number of Latinos in the United States grew to 57 million, and yet, during 2016, television news continued the disturbing pattern from previous years of marginalizing Latino voices in cable news discussions. This creates a blindspot in news media and marginalizes Latinos from discussions on the American experience. Latinos were even underrepresented or altogether ignored in discussions of stories that intimately affected the Hispanic community.
When President-elect Donald Trump expressed doubts that federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel could objectively do his job because of his Mexican ethnic heritage, many Latinos could have provided insights from their lived experiences, sharing stories about having similar doubts cast upon their ability to do their jobs, or about their accent or the sound of their names making them victims of labor discrimination. And yet, in cable news discussions of Trump’s attacks on Curiel, only 11.5 percent of the guests who were asked to provide analysis were Hispanic.
The same was true after the horrific massacre at the Orlando, FL, gay club Pulse -- a tragedy that took place during “Latin night” -- which left 49 victims dead, 90 percent of whom were Latino. The day after the massacre, out of 254 guests appearing on cable news networks, only 20 were Hispanic. On CNN and Fox, only 6 percent of the total number of guests on were Latino, with MSNBC doing slightly better at 12 percent, an amount still disproportionate with the number of Latino lives taken. By having the analysis and commentary surrounding the events at Pulse mostly driven by commentators who didn’t represent the victims, cable news missed out on an opportunity to lift up the communities that were hurting the most.
Similarly, in narratives that affected all demographics and impacted the experiences of everyone living in the United States, Latinos were still largely excluded. This was true on Election Day, when the morning shows of the three cable news networks -- which run for a combined nine hours -- managed to include only one Latina guest. The panels included on CNN’s New Day, Fox’s Fox & Friends, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe featured mostly white guests providing commentary on the election, including their thoughts on the Latino vote. There also wasn’t a single Latino moderator during the presidential debates, which received some of the highest ratings of the year.
Even in the instances where Latinas were the protagonists of a story, TV news occasionally failed to correctly identify them. CNN used a picture of Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA) in a story about her sister Rep. Loretta Sánchez (D-CA); Fox News featured images of then-Senate candidate Kamala Harris (D-CA) in a news segment about then-Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV); and a CBS affiliate located in Louisiana used an image of civil rights activist Dolores Huerta in a segment about the death of labor activist Helen Fabela Chávez.
Increased and more proportionate representation isn’t just important to those in the Hispanic community who are feeling excluded from the American narrative as it’s portrayed on television news; it’s also important for TV networks and producers and their audiences in general. For the sake of news media accuracy, what is shown on the screen should reflect American demographics. As veteran journalist Fernando Espuelas has explained, “media creates reality,” and so when audiences don’t see Hispanics discussing current issues in the media, “there’s a point at which even non-prejudicial, non-racist [people] start to be unable to see Hispanics in that context.”
Furthermore, the lack of Latino representation has enabled politicians to run campaigns that strategically and structurally ignored Hispanics and the concrete issues that affect their communities. By rendering the second-largest demographic group in the country invisible, the news media helped reward political strategies that prioritized white voters.
Underrepresentation can also have other downright dangerous and damaging consequences, like normalizing xenophobic discourse and disparaging rhetoric against Latinos on news media. “It's much easier to say nasty things about somebody who's not there,” Media Matters’ Kristian Ramos posited while advocating for more Hispanic representation.
In 2017, TV news outlets can work to avoid siloing and ignoring Latino voices by considering all of the American experiences that could help to illustrate and analyze a story and by featuring panels that accurately reflect both those most affected and American demographics. And Latinos should continue to push for increased representation and for the chance to tell their stories on the news media, so that less-diverse communities can get a glimpse into America's future.
Cut Out The Punditry, Bring In The Experts
CNN’s immigration coverage could really use an upgrade if it is serious about informing audiences, especially those whose futures depend on the immigration policies President-elect Donald Trump’s administration ends up implementing. CNN could learn from Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo, whose segments on Trump’s immigration policies have featured experts on the issue and immigrants who are intimately knowledgeable about the topic, as opposed to panels featuring political pundits.
One of the issues that came out of Trump’s softball interview with CBS’s 60 minutes, was media speculation of a “softer” tone on immigration, since on CBS Trump seemed to diverge from his campaign promise of deporting all undocumented immigrants. To report on this apparent “softening” and its implications, the November 14 editions of Telemundo’s and Univision’s news shows featured immigration experts, like Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) executive director Angélica Salas and immigration attorney Ezequiel Hernández, as well as Lucia A Quiej, an undocumented immigrant who explained her fears regarding Trump’s uncertain plans. Univision also responsibly underlined that all discussions at the moment are only preliminary and that more will certainly be known after Trump’s inauguration takes place in January.
With the exception of an immigration attorney who wasn’t identified but appeared briefly on Early Start to talk to Brynn Gingras about anti-Trump protests, CNN’s coverage of the same topic on November 14 featured pundits and the network’s own political commentators, such as CNN’s Eugene Scott, Dana Bash, Errol Louis, Michael Smerconish, Maria Cardona, and Jeffrey Toobin. Other guests talking about the topic included The Daily Beast’s Patricia Murphy, Boston Globe’s Matt Viser, Trump supporter André Bauer, and The New York Times’ Alex Burns, none of whom provided a specialized opinion.
Trump ran a campaign based on extreme anti-immigrant promises. For a significant segment of this country’s population, information about this issue goes beyond political entertainment; it is a tool they need to plan out their futures. They’re waiting for information and listening to every news report on the issue that might determine their destinies. They’re better served by news networks giving their platform to experts who can add some value and produce informed discussions as opposed to well-meaning opinions.
Images by Sarah Wasko.
President-elect Donald Trump is considering Laura Ingraham, a Fox News contributor and conservative radio talk show host, as a possible choice for White House press secretary. If he picks her, it would be Ingraham’s job to brief the White House press corps on behalf of the Trump administration, and the attacks she’s launched against Hispanic journalists and Spanish-language media would make the White House briefing room a very hostile place for Hispanic journalists.
On November 13, The Hill reported that Ingraham was “under serious consideration” to be the press secretary of Trump’s White House, an indication that the contempt Trump showed for the press during his campaign will percolate into his administration, since Ingraham has her own history of railing against journalists whose reporting she doesn’t agree with.
During her crusade against “biased,” “post-American” journalism, Ingraham has singled out Hispanic media specifically, taking offense that Telemundo and Univision are “Hispanic-centric” networks which “revile the American experience” and have a “toxic” impact. The networks are extremely valuable for many Spanish-speakers who rely on them to better “navigate America,” but Ingraham has accused them of “teaching illegals how to avoid deportation” and of preventing people from learning English.
Ingraham has also taken issue with Hispanic journalists merely for speaking Spanish, once criticizing Telemundo anchor José Díaz-Balart for translating for a Spanish-speaking guest and mocking his accent by saying it was “so herky-jerky.” Ingraham has been critical of multilingualism in the United States, extending her mockery on Twitter to Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) for his command of Spanish and criticizing retail workers who speak English with an accent, saying, “You can’t understand them. Sometimes you think you’re in a foreign country.” Any member of the press corp who sounds similar could be subjected to the same level of mockery and disdain from a press secretary Ingraham.
Covering the Trump campaign was especially challenging for Hispanic media, since the president-elect showed particular animosity toward the main Spanish-language networks and consistently ignored requests from Spanish-language print outlets seeking access -- an approach in line with his “English-only” strategy of seeking electoral victory by courting primarily white voters. Picking Ingraham as press secretary would demonstrate that Trump has little interest in diverging from this campaign strategy while governing.
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On an Election Day that could be marked by a historic turnout of Latino voters, cable news morning shows had almost no Latino guests, and more than 80 percent of the guests brought on to discuss the 2016 elections were white.
Media Matters analyzed the guests who appeared on the Election Day editions of CNN’s New Day, Fox News’ Fox & Friends and MSNBC’s Morning Joe and found only one Hispanic guest in the three hours of coverage: Rachel Campos-Duffy appeared on Fox News alongside her husband, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), to discuss their support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump; the remaining 92 percent of the guests on Fox News were white. CNN and MSNBC did not feature a single Hispanic guest discussing the election; 84 percent of guests on CNN were white, and on MSNBC 92 percent of guests were white.
Latino journalists have taken notice of the dearth of Latino voices in election discussions that often touch upon the importance of the Hispanic vote. Univision anchor Enrique Acevedo noted the absence of Hispanics on CNN and MSNBC in a tweet, and Futuro Media Group’s Julio Ricardo Varela remarked that there were “no Puerto Ricans at the table” even as MSNBC’s Morning Joe discussed the influence of Puerto Rican voters in Florida.
In this election cycle, the Latino electorate is “on track for historic turnout,” according to the polling firm Latino Decisions. The firm projects a “three percent to five percent” increase in Latino voter turnout compared to 2012. In states with Latino-heavy populations like Florida and Nevada, the record-setting surge of Hispanic voters -- likely motivated by Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric -- could help define the election. And yet, like in past situations where Latinos are at the center of the issues being discussed, Hispanic voices continue to be marginalized in the news media.
Media Matters analyzed all guest appearances on November 8 from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on CNN’s New Day, Fox News’ Fox & Friends, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe and coded them for ethnicity.
News shows on the biggest Spanish-language networks, Univision and Telemundo, failed to mention that November 1 marked Latina Equal Pay Day -- which is the day that Latinas reach an average annual income that matches the average annual income white men earned in 2015 -- meaning it took Latinas nearly two years to earn as much as white men earned on average in 2015.
Media Matters analyzed coverage of the November 1 editions of Telemundo’s Noticiero Telemundo and Univision’s Noticiero Univisión and Edición Nocturna and found no mentions of Latina Equal Pay Day. In contrast, National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) and more than a hundred women’s rights groups and Latino empowerment organizations observed the day by raising awareness and highlighting research that shows the impact of this wage gap. One study, from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, found that “if trends over the last 30 years continue, Hispanic women will not see equal pay with White men until 2248, 232 years from now.” The study also found that for Latinas, median annual earnings have in fact declined in most states.
To many Spanish-speaking Latinos, the top-rated networks Univision and Telemundo are the tools that help them “navigate America.” Research from Pew has found that close to 1.85 million viewers tune in to watch Univision’s daily news cast Noticiero Univisión, while Noticiero Telemundo’s viewership continues to increase. By failing to shine a light on how wage inequality affects Latinas, Spanish-language networks missed an opportunity to empower the community they serve.
Several Hispanic media reporters ridiculed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s meager attempt at Hispanic outreach -- which consisted of meeting with Cuban-Americans in the key swing state of Florida -- and explained that he once again failed to reach beyond his solidified base of support. The reports also pointed out the irony in the candidate casting himself as a hard-liner against the U.S.-Cuba embargo, which is the catalyst driving older Cuban-Americans’ support for him, when questions about Trump’s potential violation of the embargo remain.
An October 25 Univision article by David Adams, Jessica Weiss, and Lorena Arroyo reported that Trump spoke to “some 40 Bay of Pigs veterans” in Miami, FL, a voting bloc that has historically voted Republican, but he failed to spearhead further outreach within the Latino community. The report notes that although Miami’s Cuban-Americans were “once a bastion of Republican support,” they are now “evenly split 41-41 percent between Trump and Clinton.” Political analysts commented that “Trump’s Cuban American strategy is running counter to a changing demographic reality,” taking into account young Cuban-Americans who are “increasingly registering as Democrats and Independents,” a point that other reports confirm.
Trump’s event with the Bay of Pigs veterans also “did not offer any details of a plan to free Cuba” even though Trump was specifically “invited ‘to explain to [them] his plan for Cuba’s freedom,’” Univision reported. The article noted that this lack of specifics “has been customary in the [Trump] campaign.”
In an opinion piece for the Miami Herald, Florida journalist Fabiola Santiago also pointed out the irony of the interaction between the businessman and the Cuban-American veterans. Santiago recalled reports by Bloomberg and Newsweek documenting two occasions in which Trump “sent teams to Cuba to research business opportunities,” which was “most likely in violation of the U.S. embargo.” She opined that “Donald Trump’s campaign engaged the Bay of Pigs veterans because he’s falling behind in Florida, a must-win state where the Hispanic vote counts, and it’s massively favoring Hillary Clinton, Cuban-Americans included."
But research about the Latino vote demonstrates that among the Hispanic community, “Cuban-Americans are, in many ways, a group apart. As a whole they are wealthier, better educated and more Republican than other Hispanics.” Therefore, Trump’s meeting with Cuban-Americans doesn’t help him breach the enormous gap between him and Clinton in polls of the Latino community, where he only has 17 percent support.
The message of these Hispanic media reporters to the Trump campaign is clear: this “desperate, last-minute” attempt to reach out to Cuban-Americans will not make up for its ongoing rejection of the Hispanic community. Nevertheless, the approach isn’t surprising, as it’s in step with Trump’s overall campaign strategy of remaining within his comfort zone and ignoring groups that break with his radical proposals, particularly when it comes to Latino outreach.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has broken the precedent set by presidential candidates before him by avoiding speaking to major Spanish-language media networks and outlets since June 2015, posing an unexpected challenge for the Spanish-language reporters covering his campaign, and forcing them to rely on campaign press releases, televised news conferences, the candidate’s Twitter account and the work of other journalists. Media Matters interviewed La Opinión’s Washington correspondent Maria Peña to find out what it’s like to cover Trump for an audience of Spanish-speakers in such conditions.
While Trump’s animosity toward the major Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo has been well documented, the fact that his Hispanic media blackout has also affected print outlets is less discussed. La Opinión -- the Los Angeles-based largest Spanish-language daily newspaper in the U.S. -- has a strong digital and print presence among Latino readers. La Opinión’s Maria Peña told Media Matters that “the main difficulty” in covering Trump for a Spanish-language outlet has been “access” since the campaign “does not even respond to emails.”
Trump has set himself apart from other candidates -- Democratic and Republican -- by repeatedly ignoring Spanish-language media figures’ requests for access. Peña said she had “no problems whatsoever with [covering] Mitt Romney’s campaign,” and was able to interview Romney’s wife and son during the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa, FL, and “almost always got written responses or helpful info[rmation]” from the other campaigns during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries.
In this election cycle, Peña has interviewed “Hillary Clinton and Gary Johnson, as well as some of their surrogates” about the issues that “Latinos care [about] the most this year” such as “jobs, health care, education, national security, and immigration.” While a growing portion of the Hispanic community gets their news in English, Spanish-language media is still the tool many Latinos rely on to help them “navigate America.” According to Peña, “for many Latino voters who are just now flexing their political muscle, or learning about the electoral process in this country, getting reliable and accurate information in their own language is very important.”
Spanish-speaking audiences have yet to hear Trump’s unfiltered views on the things that matter to them the most, since even when his campaign caved to Hispanic media’s pressure and conceded a short interview to a local Miami, FL, Telemundo station, Trump was neither challenged on issues that Hispanics prioritize nor questioned on his dismal Latino outreach strategy.
Trump’s shirking of Spanish-language media is just one prong of his media strategy wherein he seeks exclusively fawning press coverage by denying interviews if he cannot have the questions in advance, or changing his mind seconds before interviews with local Hispanic journalists his campaign has already agreed to. Trump also has an extensive record of attacks against media figures and outlets he perceives as critical, and has a tendency to retreat to the protection of the sycophantic right-wing media bubble, often to whine about the “very evil” press.
To many Hispanic journalists, Trump’s “unprecedented and dangerous” antics with the news media echo those of “political figures” who “use whatever is at their disposal to punish and silence unfavorable news coverage.” But, as Peña pointed out, Trump’s ignoring Spanish-language media figures “at his own peril” because "this voting bloc has the power to swing elections.”
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Media figures took on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s reference to immigrants as “bad hombres” who “we’re going to get … out” in the third presidential debate, explaining that the remarks are an offensive smear and stereotype of Latinos.
Fox’s Chris Wallace is slated to moderate the third and last presidential debate in Las Vegas, NV, on October 19, and has chosen immigration as one of the topics the candidates will be discussing. Throughout his tenure Wallace has been inconsistent in the way he’s framed the issue, at times pushing culturally incompetent slurs and using the language of immigration reform opponents, and at others stepping up to criticize Trump for “demoniz[ing]” Mexican immigrants. Which Wallace will show up at the debate stage on Wednesday?
Even though immigration is the “cornerstone” of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign, moderators have yet to bring it up at a general election debate. Wallace has announced he will be the first moderator to do so. While Wallace’s conflicts of interest as a moderator are a problem in their own right -- for two decades Wallace worked for Trump ally and former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, and he defended Ailes amid the sexual harassment allegations that caused Ailes to be ousted from his position running Fox News -- having him frame immigration for discussion among the candidates will also bring its own set of problems. Those issues stem from Wallace’s own inconsistencies on the topic and his promised passivity in the face of a candidate whose immigration positions have been described as “impractical,” “clueless,” and “inhumane.”
When it comes to the immigration debate, Wallace belongs to the camp of those who still use culturally insensitive slurs like “illegals” to refer to undocumented immigrants. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) has long condemned that term for its dehumanizing nature, and both the term “illegals” and “illegal immigrant” violate current Associated Press journalistic standards. Wallace has also previously embraced the language of those who oppose immigration reform, asking whether creating a path to citizenship would be “amnesty.”
While moderating a Republican presidential debate in August 2015, Wallace neutrally introduced an immigration question about Kate’s Law without disclosing the active role Fox News had played in proposing and pushing for the anti-immigrant federal legislation. The proposed law, which sought to establish mandatory minimum sentences for undocumented immigrants who re-enter the country after deportation, failed to pass.
On the other hand, Wallace was critical of Trump’s vitriolic rhetoric against Mexican immigrants during a June 2015 appearance on KFTK’s Allman in the Morning, taking a more compassionate stance by saying it’s not “right” to “demonize a group of people”:
CHRIS WALLACE: I vastly prefer what Jeb Bush -- and I’m not in the tank to Jeb Bush on this, but I vastly prefer what he's saying, which is, which I think is the truth, which is that people come to this country -- and I'm not saying that they should. I mean, a great country has to be able to defend its borders, but people don't come to the United States because they're criminals. I think most people come to the United States because they think they'll be able to provide for their families and have better lives, and to demonize a group of people is -- I don't think it's right.
Many Latinos in the media have been clamoring for a substantive discussion about immigration during the presidential debates, but given Wallace’s announcement that he won’t be pushing back on candidates while moderating, the stage on Wednesday night might just be another platform for Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric.