“Obamacars,” “Marcophones” And Other Ridiculous Conspiracies About Immigration Reform

Right-wing media have invented several conspiracy theories to attack the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill, including claiming that the legislation provides free cars and cell phones for undocumented immigrants, and that it is a secret plot to create a permanent one-party system reminiscent of Marxist Russian premier Vladimir Lenin.


CLAIM: Immigration Reform Bill Gives Out “Obamacars”

Breitbart.com: Provision In Senate Immigration Reform Bill Could Give Free Vehicles To Young People. A Breitbart.com piece claimed that a provision in the immigration reform bill “could be used to give free cars, motorcycles, scooters or other vehicles to young people around the country over a period of 15 months after the bill passes.” [Breitbart.com, 6/24/13]

Fox & Friends: One Of The Immigration Bill “Sweeteners” Is Free Vehicles To Young People. On Fox & Friends, co-host Peter Doocy and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham repeated the claim, saying that the bill would give out “free cars, motorcycles, scooters or other vehicles to young people.” On-screen text during the segment read: " 'Obamacars': Immigration Bill Proposes Handing Out Cars." [Fox & Friends6/25/13]

FACT: The Immigration Bill Does Not Give Out Free Cars

PolitiFact: “There Is No Proof To Support The Idea That The Program Would Include” A Free Vehicle. In an article in which it rated the “Obamacars” rumor “pants on fire,” PolitiFact wrote: “There is no proof to support the idea that the program would include free car, motorcycle or scooter giveaways”:

An amendment by Sanders to the immigration bill would provide a youth jobs program that includes the possibility of transportation and child care services. That prompted conservative news outlets to make claims such as, “New Immigration bill has taxpayer subsidized Obamacars for youths.”

Sanders' amendment doesn't define in detail what the transportation services would entail. Ultimately if the bill passes, local workforce boards would propose jobs programs that would be signed off by the states and approved by the U.S. Labor Department. There is no proof to support the idea that the program would include free car, motorcycle or scooter giveaways. In fact, that such a process would end up allowing car giveaways seems laughable.

We are putting the brakes on this rumor. Pants on Fire! [PolitiFact, 6/25/13]


CLAIM: Newly Legalized Immigrants Will Receive Taxpayer-Funded “MarcoPhones”

Immigrants Who Enter The United States Legally Will be Given A Taxpayer Funded Cell Phone. According to conservative blogger Javier Manjarres, a provision in the immigration reform bill would give legal immigrants a taxpayer funded cell phone, which Manjarres first called the “MarcoPhone”:

According to the newly filed bill, immigrants who are allowed to enter the United States under a work visa, will be 'granted' a taxpayer funded cellular phone. Move over “Obama phone,” we present the new 'Hola, Como Estas?!' MarcoPhone.


You would think that the government agency where these immigrants initially applied for their guest worker visa, was already situated in an urban environment with adequate cell phone service, right?  Something tells me that these [guest] workers will not be taking a short cut through the 'cell phone signal-less' desert to get to and from work. [Shark Tank, 4/17/13]

Laura Ingraham: “Move Over 'ObamaPhone,' This Is the Amnesty Phone.” During an interview with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Laura Ingraham claimed that a provision in the Senate reform bill would give free phones to undocumented workers on the U.S.-Mexico border, which she dubbed the “Amnesty Phone”:

INGRAHAM: You actually can be eligible for a grant for a phone it looks like.

RUBIO: That's false.

INGRAHAM: A two-year grant program to receive a cellular phone. And the articles this morning as you can imagine are fairly amusing: Move over “ObamaPhone,” this is the, you know, this is the “Amnesty Phone.” What's going on? [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show4/17/13]

FACT: Bill Does Not Give Free Phones To New Immigrants

Atlantic Wire: “MarcoPhone Turns Out Not To Exist.” As the Atlantic Wire reported in an article headlined, “MarcoPhone Turns Out Not to Exist Either,” the provision states that the phones would be given to American ranchers who live on the Southwestern border so they could report illegal crossings and violence on the border. It was reportedly inspired by the death of a rancher who was killed by undocumented immigrants:

The immigration bill gives cell phones to ranchers so they can report illegal immigrants and violence on the border. It was inspired by a rancher who was killed by illegal immigrants.


All those warnings sound so vague compared to the perfect single symbol of the MarcoPhone. Here at last was the knock-out blow to Rubio's amnesty. You can imagine Laura Ingraham's disappointment when she asked Rubio about it Wednesday, and he replied, “That's false.” The phones are for people living in border areas who might not have cell phones. It's inspired by the 2010 death of Robert Krentz, a 58-year-old rancher from a well-known Arizona family, who was shot to death. Footprints at the scene traced to the Mexican border. His last words were reportedly “illegal and hurt.” [Atlantic Wire, 4/17/13]

46 Million New Immigrants

CLAIM: There Will Be 46 Million New Immigrants In Two Decades

Rush Limbaugh: Immigration Reform Bill Will Bring 46 Million Immigrants Into America Within Two Decades. Rush Limbaugh claimed that a Congressional Budget Office report scoring the immigration reform bill estimated that there would be 46 million new immigrants in the United States by 2033 as a result of the bill:

LIMBAUGH: Let's look at some of the other aspects of the CBO report. We just heard from Reuters that it's going to be magic. It's going to cause economic growth, it's going to reduce the deficit, and those assertions are in the report, but so is this: The Congressional Budget Office projects 16 million new immigrants will be added by 2033 on top of the current law projected flow of 22 million.

Furthermore, 8 million illegals will be granted permanent status. We're talking a total here of 46 million legal immigrants, as a result of the bill, including a doubling of guest workers to 1.6 million in a single year. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show6/20/13]

FACT: Number Of New Immigrants Closer To 36 Million In Two Decades

Wash. Post: Immigration Reform Bill Would Likely Add About 36 Million New Immigrants Over Two Decades. According to The Washington Post's Wonkblog, the immigration reform bill would add 16.2 million new immigrants on top of current population growth estimates, which would total about 36 million immigrants over 20 years:

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Senate bill would boost the U.S. population by about 10.4 million over the next decade and then add 5.8 million more people in the decade after that.

But that's all “compared to current law.” So what's current law?

The Census Bureau already expected net international migration to increase by roughly 20 million in the next two decades.* The 16.2 million extra people that CBO expects immigration reform to attract are on top of that. So, if the Senate bill passed, the United States would be adding somewhere around 36 million new immigrants over the next two decades -- a figure comparable to the population of Canada. [The Washington Post6/20/13]

Sen. Schumer Threatened Riots

CLAIM: Sen. Schumer Threatened “Riots” If Immigration Reform Fails

Laura Ingraham: Subtext Of Chuck Schumer's Argument Is “It's Gonna Get Violent.” Ingraham claimed that the subtext of Sen. Chuck Schumer's remarks that immigration is “the next civil rights movement” was that there will be riots and violence in the streets:

INGRAHAM: Also, when, when Chuck Schumer threatens to shut down Washington, that's what it is. You -- we will wreak havoc on every city. Why didn't Schumer just say that it was going to be riots like 1968, '69, where we, we burned half of Washington? He might have just said that. Don't you believe it was implicit in what Chuck Schumer said? Do you believe it was? I think it was. I think the subtext of all of this is: it's gonna get violent. Do you want this blood on your hands? Do you agree with me? [The Laura Ingraham Show6/24/13]

Rush Limbaugh: Schumer Is “Threatening” Riots “Unless We Give Illegal Aliens Their Civil Right To Live In The U.S.” Limbaugh claimed that Schumer meant “riots” when he made his remarks about immigration reform:

LIMBAUGH: Now we've got Senator Schumer talking about riots if we don't pass this. There are going to be riots if we do. He's out there saying there will be unrest -- he means riots -- if this isn't passed. Schumer is threatening this, unless we give illegal aliens their civil right to live in the U.S. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show6/25/13]

FACT: Schumer Was Referring to Civil Rights Rallies That Would Involve Business, Faith Leaders

Sen. Schumer On CNN: “This Has The Potential Of Becoming The Next Major Civil Rights Movement.” During an interview on CNN's State of the Union, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stated:

SCHUMER: This has the potential of becoming the next major civil rights movement. I could envision in the late summer or early fall, if [House Speaker John] Boehner tries to bottle the bill up or put something in without a path to citizenship -- if there's no path to citizenship, there's no bill -- but if he puts something, if he tries to bottle it up or do things like that, I could see a million people on the mall in Washington, on the platform, would not be the usual suspects, but the leaders of business, the leaders of the evangelical movement, the leaders of high tech, as well as most Americans pressuring the House to act. I think they're going to have to act whether they have a majority of Republicans or not. [CNN, State of the Union with Candy Crowley6/23/13]

Reuters: Schumer's Comments Evoke “Memories Of Rallies In The 1960s That Resulted In Landmark Anti-Discrimination And Voting Rights Legislation For African Americans.” In an article about Schumer's comments, Reuters wrote that his remarks conjured up “memories of rallies in the 1960s that resulted in landmark anti-discrimination and voting rights legislation for African Americans”:

Washington may again be the site of massive civil-rights rallies, this time pressuring the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives to approve a pathway to U.S. citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, a key Democrat said on Sunday.

With the Senate set to approve its White House-backed bill this week, Senator Charles Schumer, an author of a bipartisan bill that would allow about 11 million immigrants to eventually become U.S. citizens, said he expects House Speaker John Boehner will soon have “no choice,” but to let pass a Democratic-backed immigration bill.

However, if Boehner tries to bottle up a bill that includes eventual citizenship, Schumer said, “I could envision in the late summer or early fall ... a million people on the mall in Washington,” demanding action.

“This has the potential of becoming the next major civil rights movement,” Schumer told CNN's “State of the Union,” conjuring up memories of rallies in the 1960s that resulted in landmark anti-discrimination and voting rights legislation for African Americans. [Reuters, 6/23/13]

Secret Plot To Create Lenin-Style One Party System

CLAIM: Immigration Reform Bill Would Birth “A Fifth Branch Of Government” That Lacks Oversight

Betsy McCaughey: President Obama Is Using Immigration Reform Bill To “Elevat[e] Community Organizations To A Fifth Branch Of Government.” In an interview with The Daily Caller, former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey claimed that President Obama is “elevating” third party community groups to the “fifth branch of government without any of the rules that limit what the other branches can do.” She further claimed that that these third party groups will register immigrants as Democrats. McCaughey went on to claim the tactics were similar to those used by Marxist Russian premier Vladimir Lenin. [The Daily Caller, 6/9/13]

Andrea Tantaros Claimed Bill Would Allow Third Party Groups  To Take “The Authority Away From DHS.” The Five co-host Andrea Tantaros claimed the immigration bill would allow the National Council of La Raza and other immigrant rights' groups to take the authority of overseeing the bill away from the Department of Homeland Security:

TANTAROS: Looking at this bill in its current form, Eric, it's a disaster. It's become a Christmas tree of carve-outs for lobbyists. It actually funnels money -- this according to Betsy McCaughey. Right. She says that it funnels money to groups like La Raza, community organizing groups, takes the authority away from the DHS, Department of Homeland Security, and lets them handle the amnesty process.  [The Five6/21/13, via Media Matters]

FACT: Senate Bill Sets Limits On What Activities Outside Groups Can Perform

Senate Bill Sets A Number Of Requirements For Which Third Party Organizations Can Use Federal Funding To Help Immigrants. According to the text of the Senate immigration reform bill, groups must meet certain qualifications to be eligible for grants and must use these funds for the design and implementation of specific programs, such as providing information about immigrant status and assisting with registering immigrants. According to section 2106, these activities include informing the public about:

  • “eligibility and benefits of registered provision immigration status,”
  • assistance to individuals “submitting applications for registered provisional immigration status,”
  • assistance with changing immigration status, and aid in understanding and navigating the citizenship process.

The bill also requires these organizations to be “a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, including a community, faith-based or other immigrant-serving organization, whose staff has demonstrated qualifications, experience, and expertise in providing quality services to immigrants, refugees, persons granted asylum, or persons applying for such statuses.” [GPO.gov, accessed 6/28/13]