Immigration | Media Matters for America

Immigration

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  • Immigration reporter Manuel Duran is the latest immigrant detained after revealing ICE abuses

    Immigrants speaking out against ICE abuse are particularly vulnerable under Trump

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE


    Dayanita Ramesh / Media Matters

    On April 13, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed a petition calling for the release of journalist Manuel Duran from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center, saying that his “arrest and detention were an effort to suppress his reporting.” Duran’s case follows the arrests of many other immigrants who have spoken out against ICE’s practices, spurring many observers to complain that the agency is retaliating to suppress criticism.

    Duran, an experienced journalist and owner of the Spanish-language newspaper Memphis Noticias, was arrested on April 3 as he covered protests over ICE’s mistreatment of immigrants. Charges against Duran were dismissed, but Memphis police transferred him to ICE custody in response to a detainer request. On April 6, he was brought to an immigrant detention center in Louisiana where he’s still being held. Duran’s paper has published a number of articles critical of ICE, and even though he has never been arrested for a felony -- and thus likely would not have been kept in detention prior to the Trump administration -- new policies have increased deportation proceedings in cases like his.

    Many other immigrant activists have met a similar fate because of these new policies. The arrests of immigrant rights leaders Jean Montrevil and Ravi Ragbir sparked a federal lawsuit alleging that ICE was unconstitutionally targeting such activists “for surveillance and deportation.” Activist Alejandra Pablos was abruptly detained after a routine ICE check-in. Advocates of Eliseo Jurado say he was detained in retaliation for his wife’s advocacy. Maru Mora-Villalpando reportedly came to ICE’s attention after being cited in a local newspaper and participating in immigrant rights protests and programs. ICE also targeted Baltazar “Rosas” Aburto Gutierrez after The Seattle Times quoted him in an article about increased immigration enforcement. And Daniela Vargas, a DACA beneficiary whose status expired in November, was arrested shortly after she spoke at a press conference in support of immigrants’ rights.

    These cases paint a picture of a government agency retaliating against those who attempt to provide oversight. Yet many mainstream media outlets have shown an unwillingness to actively report on immigration issues, allowing right-wing outlets, which routinely trivialize immigrants’ rights, to drive the coverage. Such outlets have provided a safe space for acting ICE director Thomas Homan to spout lies about ICE raids, attack those who oppose the agency’s abusive tactics, and cheerlead more broadly for ICE’s cruel immigration sweeps. For their part, Spanish-language media are keen on exposing ICE abuse, but Duran’s arrest opens up yet another obstacle these journalists and activists face in speaking truth to power.

  • The Atlantic fired Kevin Williamson for his abortion comments. Check out all this other stuff he said.

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN & JULIE TULBERT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    After previously defending the hiring of former National Review writer Kevin Williamson as an exercise in ideological diversity, Atlantic Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg announced on April 5 that the outlet was “parting ways” with Williamson. In particular, Goldberg noted that Williamson’s defense of his belief that those who have had abortion should be hanged “runs contrary to The Atlantic’s tradition of respectful, well-reasoned debate, and to the values of our workplace.”

    Although some chose to write off Williamson’s comments on abortion as offhand statements, in reality, Williamson defended and expanded his belief that those who have abortions should face hanging in a 2014 edition of his podcast, “Mad Dogs & Englishmen.” In the episode, Williamson said that although he was “kind of squishy on capital punishment in general,” he was “absolutely willing to see abortion treated like regular homicide” and in particular had “a soft spot for hanging as a form of capital punishment.”

    Beyond his statements about abortion, Williamson also has a long resume when it comes to problematic articles and commentary, on a variety of topics.

    Before he was fired, Media Matters was reviewing additional episodes of Williamson’s podcast. Here are some previously unreported lowlights from other subjects Williamson discussed on “Mad Dogs & Englishmen”:

    On race

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: But at the end of the day we also have to pay attention to the actual facts of the case. And the unhappy part of that story is that a lot of the complaint is based on fiction. A lot of what we have to say about it is based on fiction. It just simply is not the case that young black men are getting gunned down, unarmed, by police officers in any sort of significant numbers. It’s just not something that really happens.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: And I don’t think that a lot of people talking about this right now really even quite understand what the basic genesis of these protests were and where they came from. I think [football player Colin] Kaepernick is a fairly unsympathetic character because he seems to be someone who doesn’t actually know very much what he’s talking about and kind of likes to play radical, maybe to make up for the fact that his sports career wasn’t all that promising there at the end.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Yeah, so the kid, as I was noting in my piece, he yells at me and calls me a “cracker” and “white devil” and whatnot. And the kid sort of looked to me like Snoop Dogg, the rapper. And, he had -- he was very thin, had that sort of pointy kind of wry face, and had some braids and everything too. So I mention in my piece, I sort of did the math, he was just under 4 feet high it looked like and Snoop Dogg is a bit over 6 feet high, that he looked like a three-fifth-scale Snoop Dogg. So apparently the fraction three-fifths now, according to Jamelle [Bouie], is inherently racist because --

    CHARLES COOKE (CO-HOST): Because of the Constitution?

    WILLIAMSON: Because of the three-fifths compromise over slavery in the Constitution. In which the unit in question, I note, was not three-fifths of a Snoop Dogg.

    On gender and sexual assault

    CHARLES COOKE (CO-HOST) But this notion that we will make it incumbent upon your boss to provide a health plan, then tell him what has to be in it, and then tell him that it’s none of his business is inherently absurd. 

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Someone just needs to tell these brave feminist warrior princesses fighting the patriarchy that it’s time to stop asking Daddy to buy you stuff.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: This makes me want to bang my head on the table, because it’s just complete B.S. So, this stat that we’re always treated to, endlessly discredited, that women earn 77 cents for every dollar that men earn, is produced this way: Take all the earnings of all the women who have full-time jobs and all the earnings of men who have full-time jobs and compare them. Yes, and you will come up with that. But that doesn’t tell you anything about what sort of jobs they’re in, or how long they’ve been in the workforce or what kind of education they have, or anything else.

    [...]

    Now, that may be that some nefarious, sexist cabal somewhere is shunting all the women over into HR and putting the men in sales jobs, but it could also be other things, like choices that people make. Commission sales is an inherently insecure job; women are more risk-averse than men are.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: So, people make different decisions about those sorts of things. And we all know this. I mean, you walk into an elementary school and you notice the male teachers because there’s relatively few of them. You go to other sorts of positions and you’ll notice women there because they stand out because there are relatively few women in those jobs.

    CHARLES COOKE (CO-HOST): Construction.

    WILLIAMSON: Construction, bouncers, things like that. Not that you would go into a strip club, but if you did go into a strip club you would notice a very pronounced division of labor between the people collecting the money at the door and the people performing on stage. They're just -- people make different sorts of decisions about things.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: A lot of the reaction against Trump, and I say this as an up-and-down-the-line anti-Trump guy, isn’t based on his policies, it’s based on the sort of people who are attracted to him and his candidacy. And that’s what was on my mind very much while watching these stupid protests and marches and riots and all of that kind of stuff. I want there to be opposition to Trump, but I want it to be intelligent, mature, patriotic, and authentically liberal opposition to him. Instead, we got a bunch of self-infantilizing people dressed in vagina hats, screaming about tampons and that sort of thing.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: So, let’s see, if the two candidates -- the two major party candidates were Bugs Bunny characters. … [Hillary Clinton is] a slightly Daffy Duck kind of character, I think in some ways. She’s got an annoying voice, she tends to blow herself up when there’s no particular reason to, things just tend not to go right for her, she’s an egomaniac. She could be sort of a Daffy Duck.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: This is something I bang on a lot about I know, and forgive me for bringing it up here again but I think it is relevant, that the idea that there is an epidemic of rape on college campuses is, first of all, demonstrably untrue. That there’s an epidemic of rape anywhere in the country is demonstrably untrue. Sexual assault have declined something like 68 percent in the last 20 years.

    On immigration

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: When I’ve -- I’ve talked about using an income criterion as a kind of cut-off for not all of our immigration problems -- programs -- but a lot of immigration programs, and a pretty high way, say $200,000 a year is more or less OK. There’s background check and other stuff, but if you’re coming in at a wage like that, you’re not being hired probably because you’re the cheapest guy for the job. You’re being hired because someone is looking for a specific set of skills. Because I simply don’t think our country is going to made better off by importing a lot of poor people. It sounds callous to say, but I think we probably have enough poor people in the United States to start with. I don’t really look out at the country and see a shortage.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: One of the other problems with the purely economic libertarian arguments about immigration is that people aren’t capital. They’re just not. They bring other stuff with them. And that stuff has to be taken into consideration, I think, as well. 

    CHARLES COOKE (CO-HOST): Well, and people care about culture.

    WILLIAMSON: Yeah, they do care about culture. And that actually matters and it should be taken into account. And people think this is chauvinistic or racist or Islamophobic or whatnot, but there’s no reason that stuff should not be taken into account because we do care about the composition of our society.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: And this is where people start to get a little nervous on grounds of things that sound like discrimination to us, and maybe it is discrimination in a way. But I think it’s useful and healthy discrimination that obviously people who are looking to immigrate here from Pakistan or Afghanistan or Iran or Saudi Arabia should obviously, in my view, be subject to a much, much higher level of scrutiny than people who are coming here from Switzerland or Sweden.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: One of the things I think that we have to be even more forthright about is that we aren’t talking here about a geographic[al] question, we are here talking about a cultural question. We are talking about people who come from Islamic backgrounds. And that’s also going to hold true for many immigrants from the United Kingdom and from other Commonwealth countries that have large immigrant populations of their own from the Middle East. So, I’m thinking that someone who immigrated from Pakistan to the U.K. 20 years ago or 25 years ago, and now the family wants to immigrate to the United States, I would treat them essentially the same way as we would people immigrating from Pakistan. And that gets you into the problem, I guess, where you don’t really get to use the geographic dodge.

  • Ann Coulter wants the US military to kill immigrants attempting to enter the country

    Coulter: The National Guard should "shoot the illegals" because "Just standing there doesn't do a thing"

    Blog ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ

    Syndicated right-wing columnist Ann Coulter criticized President Donald Trump’s plan to send the U.S. military to the border asking, “Are they going to shoot the illegals? Just standing there doesn't do a thing.”

    On April 4, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen announced the Trump administration will send the National Guard to the southwest border after days of angry tweets from President Trump about “open borders, drugs, and crime” coming in from Mexico. According to CNN, Nielsen said, “While plans are being finalized, it’s our expectation that the National Guard will deploy personnel in support of CBP’s border security mission” and that details will not be available today or on any specific timeline.

    The pronouncement comes after reports of a “caravan” of migrants traveling north from Honduras toward the border. The New York Times explains that “caravans” of migrants have occurred annually for the past five years “with little fanfare, virtually unnoticed north of the border with the United States.”

    Fox News seized the story to demonize those seeking asylum in the U.S. In reaction to the news, host Tucker Carlson described Mexico as a “hostile foreign power.” Carlson also hosted Jessica Vaughn of the hate group the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) who called the caravan a “walkathon for open borders” and a “stunt to test” the Trump administration’s resolve on border security. Fox News has also credited Trump with the dispersing of the group.

    On Wednesday following Secretary Nielsen’s announcement, Coulter suggested that the  National Guard “shoot the illegals” because “Just standing there doesn’t do a thing.”

    The tweet keeps with Coulter’s long-standing history of racism and hate against immigrants. She has repeatedly called for deporting Dreamers, suggested mass shootings would decrease by stopping immigration, and has decried the “browning of America.”

  • We reviewed Kevin Williamson's past work. The Atlantic hiring him is even worse than you think.

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN & JULIE TULBERT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    After The Atlantic hired former National Review writer Kevin Williamson, Media Matters and a number of others called out Williamsons’ history of problematic commentary -- including his belief that “the law should treat abortion like any other homicide” and, as Rewire.News characterized it, that “women who have had abortions should face capital punishment, namely hanging.” 

    It turns out there are plenty of other reasons that The Atlantic should feel bad about the new hire and his self-proclaimed commitment to “raising a brand new kind of hell.”

    Williamson attacked Laverne Cox as “a man masquerading as a woman” and said transgender people were not “super emotionally stable” because they are “living in adolescence”

    After writing an article attacking transgender advocate and actress Laverne Cox, Williamson reiterated his anti-trans claims on his podcast, saying that she is “not a woman” and that his belief shouldn’t be “controversial” because she is “a man masquerading as a woman.”

    During the same podcast, Williamson said that “sex reassignment surgery” is “brutal and lamentable” because it is “surgical mutilation basically for cosmetic purposes.”

    Williamson also said that some transgender people do not give “the impression of being super emotionally stable” because they are “self-dramatizing” and “theatrical.” He claimed this characterization is “unfortunately stereotypical” but nevertheless called it “an accurate description.”

    Williamson continued that transgender people are probably “living in adolescence” because “if you’re 40, and you’re still getting massive hormone treatments from a hormone that belongs to a sex that isn’t you, then, I guess, you should maybe be able to expect that this is going to be some sort of continued adolescence.”

    Williamson called Mexican immigrants “peasants” who “aren’t really contributing” and said they’ve made the border look “like Afghanistan”

    During a 2011 appearance on Lou Dobbs Tonight, Williamson not only called Mexican immigrants, “peasants” but also claimed that they “aren’t really contributing a great deal.” When pressed on this statement, Williamson said that the border between Texas and Mexico “looks like Afghanistan.”

    Williamson commented that he “certainly hopes” we have continued “waterboarding people somewhere”

    In a 2011 appearance on Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight, Williamson called for a continuation of waterboarding, saying: “We’re probably waterboarding people somewhere. I certainly hope so.”

    Williamson was “offended” that former first lady Michelle Obama “gripes about having to pay back her student loans”

    In 2012, Williamson used another appearance on Lou Dobbs Tonight to attack former first lady Michelle Obama, saying he was “offended” that Michelle Obama “gripes about having to pay back her student loans” because “when someone loans you money to do something that you want to do, that’s a favor.”

    Williamson told Parkland students that they “didn’t know anything” and claimed that “assault weapons” are not “actually very dangerous guns”

    During a 2010 appearance on CNN, Williamson argued that hunting rifles are more dangerous than “so-called assault weapons,” which are “not actually very dangerous guns.” Williamson also said that it wasn’t “an entirely irrational or paranoid belief” to think that the government would someday seize people’s guns.

    Then, last month on his own National Review podcast, “Mad Dogs & Englishmen,” Williamson attacked the high school students who survived a mass shooting at their Parkland, FL, school for advocating for stronger gun laws. Williamson compared the situation to asking people who had been in New York City during the 9/11 attacks for advice on the Middle East, saying, “We’re glad you made it through it OK. But you still don’t know anything.”

    Williamson attacked Maya Angelou, calling her a “cultural mascot” whose purpose is to “teach white liberals the meaning of life”

    Shortly after poet Maya Angelou’s passing in 2014, Williamson discussed her legacy on his podcast -- arguing that she was merely “a kind of cultural mascot” or “literary character that we tend to attach to older, African-American women” whose purpose is to “teach white liberals the meaning of life.”

    Additionally, Williamson has expressed a number of questionable opinions about race and white supremacy

    During a 2011 segment on NPR’s Tell Me More, Williamson attacked Malcolm X as “the sort of figure” who “is destructive in a lot of ways” because he engaged “in some of the most destructive and counterproductive politics the 20th century had to offer.” [NPR, Tell Me More, 4/8/11]

    In 2012, on the same NPR program, Williamson said that the idea that “racial diversity is an inherent fundamental part of higher education’s mission” is “intellectually indefensible.”[NPR, Tell Me More, 2/24/12]

    In 2018, on Fox News Radio’s The One w/ Greg Gutfeld, Williamson claimed that “if white supremacy” could be pointed to as an explanation for both chattel slavery as well as “the fact that there are nice restaurants in Brooklyn now in neighborhoods that didn’t have them,” then it “doesn’t explain anything.”

    Williamson made a similar statement in 2014 on his podcast, describing white supremacy as “an imaginary substance” created out of “intellectual crudity.”

    Williamson has attacked students, government workers, and union members as “illiterate” and “parasites”

    In a 2011 appearance on NPR’s Tell Me More, Williamson said that American students were the “most illiterate, bad reading level kids on the Earth.” [NPR, Tell Me More, 1/7/11]

    In 2013, Williamson said on Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight that the government shutdown “put a few thousand parasites out of work in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.” When pressed on his comment by a fellow panelist, Williamson responded: “Well if they’re not parasites let’s put their wages to a market test and see if they are actually worth what they’re paid. But they know they are not worth what they’re paid which is why they resist putting their wages to a market test.”

    In 2012, Williamson appeared on Dobbs’ program and referred to union members as “grotesque parasitic union goons.”

    Williamson has attacked Planned Parenthood as “grisly” and “bloodthirsty”

    After Planned Parenthood announced support for Barack Obama during the 2012 election, Williamson called the organization a “grisly, bloodthirsty enterprise.” 

  • How a hate group is rewriting history to make Cesar Chavez's birthday "National Border Control Day"

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    For years, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) has pushed to rename Cesar Chavez Day -- a holiday to commemorate the farm workers’ rights activist -- as “National Border Control Day,” taking Chavez’s comments on undocumented immigrants out of context to claim he supported anti-immigrant measures. CIS may now get its wish, as Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has introduced a proposal to make March 31 “National Border Control Day,” a move being promoted by some conservative media.

    Mark Krikorian, the executive director of CIS, is a contributor to the conservative publication National Review and has repeatedly used his platform to try to spur a grass-roots movement to change the holiday. But his organization, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has deemed an anti-immigrant hate group, has reach that extends beyond National Review. The group is routinely cited by a number of other outlets in the right-wing media sphere, many of which are following its lead and promoting CIS and Gohmert’s effort to rewrite Chavez’s legacy. While right-wing outlets are laser-focused on Chavez’s early comments on immigration, they tend to ignore the ways in which his position evolved.

    It’s true that Chavez initially voiced strong opposition to the presence of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., at one point referring to them with derogatory terms such as “wetbacks” and “illegals”, out of fear that they would undermine the United Farm Workers’ (UFW) unionizing effort. The right’s eagerness to associate Chavez with a more militarized border comes from his now-infamous “wet lines,” a violent protest in which UFW patrolled the United States’ southern border with the intention of intercepting undocumented immigrants attempting to cross.

    But this account of Chavez’s legacy is an incomplete one. The civil rights icon exhibited a shift in his position around 1973, when he was influenced by the greater Mexican American rights movement. Chavez came to fight against the exploitation of all farm workers, documented and undocumented, as demonstrated in part by his opposition to a law requiring employers to verify the immigration status of employees and his support for the 1986 bill that provided a pathway to citizenship for 3 million people. While Chavez’s position on illegal immigration was complicated, it is disingenuous for CIS to imply that Chavez would support “ridding the labor market of illegal immigrant workers.”

    This context undermines CIS’ attempt to normalize its anti-immigrant views, yet its right-wing media allies are obliging the group’s revisionist history. The fact that at least one lawmaker is taking steps to realize one of CIS' dreams shows the hate group’s growing influence under President Donald Trump. By advocating for this holiday, CIS and Gohmert are cherry-picking uninformed 1970s-era talking points on illegal immigration. While it’s unlikely right-wing media will dial back their relationship with the group, mainstream media outlets should cover CIS with skepticism and be sure to accurately convey the group’s nativist agenda.

  • Trump's border wall proposal is exactly what Ann Coulter pitched on Fox News Saturday night

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    On March 25, President Donald Trump released a cryptic tweet proposing to use funds dedicated to national defense to build a wall along the southern border, a plan conservative commentator Ann Coulter had proposed hours earlier on one of Trump’s favorite Fox News shows, Justice with Judge Jeanine.

    On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted:

    The tweet was widely interpreted as a proposal to use military funding to build a border wall, a proposal Coulter had made the night before on Justice with Judge Jeanine. The show's host, Jeanine Pirro, is a longtime friend of Trump’s and has earned a special place on his watch list through her fawning coverage.

    JEANINE PIRRO (HOST): What can the president do? What can the president do as commander-in-chief?

    ANN COULTER: Look, on the day after his inauguration, it's his authority under the Constitution that cannot be taken away from him by any legislature, by any court -- I'm quite confident the Supreme Court would uphold this -- to defend our borders. I mean, he has -- the last war that had a declaration of war from Congress in it was World War II, and we engage in a lot of military actions around the world. I think it can be done right on our border as part of the defense. Have the Seabees do it. But if he needs to --

    PIRRO: OK, so where does he get the money? Where does he get the money to build the wall that you can say he can build as national defense. Where does he take the money from?

    COULTER: The same place Reagan took the money to invade Grenada. The same place he took the money to bomb Syria. He has money to spend on national defense, and this is a much bigger problem of national defense. This is our people being attacked with chemical warfare, not allegedly Syrians.

  • Fox News is lying to its viewers about public support for California's sanctuary laws

    Fox is relying on a 2015 poll that is contradicted by more recent surveys

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Fox News has repeatedly misled its viewers about public support for so-called sanctuary laws in California and elsewhere in recent weeks. The network is presenting outdated surveys as the latest sample of public opinion and ignoring more recent polls that tend to show majority support for such policies, especially in California.

    On March 8, Ingraham Angle host Laura Ingraham said that a UC Berkeley poll "just found that 74 percent of Californians wanted to end sanctuary cities, including 65 percent of Hispanics and 73 percent of Democrats.” The Five co-host Jesse Watters repeated this survey’s findings on March 14, emphasizing that it had been conducted by co-host Greg Gutfeld’s alma mater, the University of California, Berkeley, “so we know it's correct.” And on March 20, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade, without even citing a specific poll, declared: “And by the way, most Americans don't want sanctuary states or sanctuary cities. If they -- any polling reveals that.”

    In fact, the U.C. Berkeley survey cited by Ingraham and Watters and presented by Ingraham as brand new was conducted in August 2015, as noted in the show’s on-screen graphic.

    In January, PolitiFact found that the Berkeley poll was outdated and didn't match up with more recent polling after a California Republican lawmaker cited it in an appearance on Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight. PolitiFact cited four more recent polls, all conducted in 2017, most of which found majority support for California’s sanctuary laws or sanctuary city policies in general. Furthermore, the same Berkeley polling institute whose 2015 survey was cited by Fox actually found more recently in March 2017 that 56 percent of respondents supported “local communities declaring themselves sanctuary cities” (with the question phrased differently, 53 percent objected to those cities ignoring detention request from immigration authorities).

    Polling results on support for sanctuary policies seems to vary greatly depending on the wording of the question asked. In March 2017, a fact-checker at The Washington Post examined claims by Trump administration officials that a vast majority of Americans opposed sanctuary cities. While the Post piece noted that “there’s not a lot of research on public opinion of sanctuary cities,” it also found that the phrasing of survey questions can impact outcomes and that other polls show more people support sanctuary cities than oppose them. PolitiFact came to the same conclusion, explaining that the question that those on the “political right” interpreted as a reference to sanctuary cities did not fully capture the nuance of the policy, potentially impacting the response. 

    Notably, that March 2017 Fact Checker article from the Post also reported on more recent polls than the one cited by Fox hosts of late, finding support for sanctuary policies. One of those was a March 2017 poll conducted by Fox News that found 53 percent of registered voters opposed taking away federal funds from sanctuary cities.

  • An ICE spokesperson opted to quit rather than defend a false claim. Fox News has run with that claim repeatedly.

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson has resigned from his position after members of the Trump administration, including the agency's leadership, made false statements blaming the mayor of Oakland for over 800 individuals eluding an ICE raid. The disputed claim has been a central point of Fox News’ coverage of the Bay Area raid and of its subsequent criticism of Oakland’s mayor.

    On February 24, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warned residents about an impending ICE raid in California's Bay Area, advising immigrant families to seek assistance and learn their rights. Several days after the raid, which resulted in 232 arrests, ICE issued a statement quoting acting director Thomas Homan, who blamed Schaaf for the operation not resulting in more arrests. Attorney General Jeff Sessions later pointed to the statement in a speech. According to ICE's press statement (emphasis added):

    “The Oakland mayor’s decision to publicize her suspicions about ICE operations further increased that risk for my officers and alerted criminal aliens – making clear that this reckless decision was based on her political agenda with the very federal laws that ICE is sworn to uphold,” said ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan. “Thanks to the dedicated and professional work of ICE deportation officers, we were able to remove many public safety threats from the streets of the Bay Area during the past few days. However, 864 criminal aliens and public safety threats remain at large in the community, and I have to believe that some of them were able to elude us thanks to the mayor’s irresponsible decision.”

    Homan appeared on Fox & Friends on February 28 to again blame Schaaf, saying, “There’s 800 [criminals] that we were unable to locate because of that warning.” Homan also likened the mayor to “a gang lookout yelling 'police' when a police cruiser comes in the neighborhood.”

    Homan’s claim was continuously repeated on Fox News shows, including Hannity, Special Report, America’s Newsroom, Happening Now, and The Daily Briefing.

    But according to the (now former) San Francisco spokesperson for ICE, Homan’s claim is false. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on March 12:

    The San Francisco spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement resigned after the agency’s recent Northern California sweep, saying he couldn’t continue to do his job after Trump administration officials made false public statements about a key aspect of the operation.

    James Schwab told The Chronicle on Monday that he was frustrated by repeated statements by officials, including U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that roughly 800 undocumented immigrants escaped arrest because of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s Feb. 24 warning to the public about the four-day operation, issued the night before federal officers began staking out homes and knocking on doors.

    Schwab wanted the agency to correct the number, which he understood to be far lower, and didn’t want to deflect media questions about it, he said.

    “I quit because I didn’t want to perpetuate misleading facts,” said Schwab, 38, who was hired in 2015 and resigned last week. “I asked them to change the information. I told them that the information was wrong, they asked me to deflect, and I didn’t agree with that. Then I took some time and I quit.”

    Fox News today is still pushing Homan’s claim that Schaaf is to blame for individuals getting away. The network has yet to note that ICE’s San Francisco spokesman quit after disputing that very claim.

  • Fox News is propagandizing the DOJ lawsuit against California’s immigration laws

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    On March 6, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against the state of California, Gov. Jerry Brown, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, claiming that three of the state’s immigration laws violate the supremacy clause of the Constitution. The lawsuit is the culmination of an ongoing battle between California and the federal government over the latter’s anti-immigrant policies -- a battle in which Fox News is playing a crucial role.

    For years, Fox has repeatedly accused California lawmakers of “placing illegal immigrants and illegal activity over citizens” and violating federal law. Now, the network is using the administration’s very own talking points and propaganda in an attempt to tip the scales in the lawsuit.

    Fox host Harris Faulkner and Fox News contributor Steve Cortes have both adopted Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ bizarre talking point comparing California to states that seceded during the Civil War.

    Fox is also digging in on its long-running false narrative that undocumented immigrants pose a public safety threat to average Americans to justify the DOJ’s claims.

    Fox host Laura Ingraham recited claims from the White House about undocumented immigrants who allegedly committed crimes and were released from local jails despite requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold them past their proper release dates. Fox’s Harris Faulkner welcomed Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) sweeping depiction of undocumented immigrants as members of the gang MS-13 -- a frequent characterization made by President Donald Trump -- and joined him in hyping the idea of immigrants as criminals. Faulkner later falsely claimed that ICE is targeting for deportation only “people who have so been identified that they endanger the rest of us.”

    In reality, only about half of the immigrants detained by ICE during the most recent raid in California had serious criminal histories, and ICE has made clear that any undocumented immigrant caught up in a raid is subject to “"immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States." According to CNN, ICE arrested 46,000 people without criminal records in Trump’s first year in office, “a 171% increase in the number of non-criminal individuals arrested over 2016.”

    Even a Fox correspondent who, presumably, should report the news without bias characterized undocumented immigrants as “fugitives” who “remain at large.” CNN has reported that ICE has recently added “ICE fugitives,” which originally referred to people with final orders of deportation, to the category of “convicted criminals,” allowing the agency to misleadingly claim that 92 percent of immigrants arrested under Trump had criminal convictions when in reality that number is closer to 70 percent.

    Regardless, Fox News has taken a clear position in favor of deportations and has taken to cheering on ICE raids despite the devastation they reap on local communities and families:

    And while Fox has criticized California laws that prohibit local law enforcement and private employers from cooperating with ICE, the network has made little mention of a third aspect of the DOJ lawsuit that aims to prevent California from overseeing federal immigrant detention centers, which are rife with human rights abuses. This is unsurprising given the network’s indifference to the mistreatment of immigrants in detention.

    While Fox News has long been a purveyor of false information surrounding immigration, the network has of late taken a decisively aggressive and propagandistic tone in the spirit of advancing the policies of a fiercely anti-immigrant administration.

  • Video: The real story about ICE agents is that they're terrorizing people across the country

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH


    Dayanita Ramesh / Media Matters

    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.)

    • The father of a sick young boy was detained by ICE. The boy can’t verbalize his anxieties and couldn’t understand why his own father wasn’t at his birthday party.

    • 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.)

    • Jesus Berrones, an undocumented man from Mexico scheduled to be deported soon, has a 5-year-old son battling leukemia. (He was recently granted a one-year 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

  • An appearance by an anti-immigrant hate group on Fox & Friends inspired a Trump morning tweet

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    President Donald Trump’s February 23 tweet about MS-13 came minutes after Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy spoke to Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, an anti-immigrant group that has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for its ties to white nationalists. Fox & Friends then reported on Trump’s tweet, hyping his misguided policies to combat the gang and demonstrating the disturbing feedback loop between the president and his favorite morning show.

    Vaughan appeared on Fox to tout her latest study that attempted to link the “resurgence” of MS-13 to U.S. immigration policies:

    Less than eight minutes after the interview ended, Trump tweeted, “MS-13 gang members are being removed by our Great ICE and Border Patrol Agents by the thousands, but these killers come back in from El Salvador, and through Mexico, like water. El Salvador just takes our money, and Mexico must help MORE with this problem. We need The Wall!”

    The Fox & Friends hosts then took the opportunity to reiterate their claims about MS-13 and undocumented immigrants and praise Trump’s policies, which co-host Pete Hegseth called “common sense.” But experts say the Trump administration policies are counterintuitive to combatting the gang.

  • Fox News reported that a border patrol agent was murdered. It turns out they were wrong.

    Fox ran with the rumor that Rogelio Martinez was killed by undocumented immigrants. The FBI has ruled out that possibility.

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    In November, Fox News zealously and repeatedly reported that Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez’s death was a murder committed by undocumented immigrants along the US-Mexico border, despite the fact that a local sheriff said that “evidence gathered at the scene does not suggest an assault.” Yesterday, the FBI also announced that it has found no evidence of an attack.

    Officials from the National Border Patrol Council labor union, many of whom have made their anti-immigrant views quite clear, told reporters that Martinez and his partner were ambushed by immigrants along the border, a claim that contradicted medical evidence and other accounts of the incident that suggested it was an accident. Fox News took the union officials’ account as fact, reporting that the “vicious attack” vindicated President Donald Trump’s draconian immigration policies. Fox co-host Sandra Smith reported the incident as an "apparent ambush," and host Tucker Carlson claimed that Martinez was “attacked at the border in the most gruesome possible way." At one point, Smith briefly acknowledged the possibility that Martinez’s death was the result of a deadly accident, but others on the network continued to report that it was a homicide, with Happening Now co-host Julie Banderas claiming, "a killer killed" and beat Martinez "by rocks."

    In the past, Fox has covered stories involving immigrants in ways that depict them as criminals without reporting all of the facts. Then, when more facts are revealed that refute the network’s reporting, the full context is only mentioned in a brief whisper, if at all. In Martinez’s case, The Washington Post reported that the FBI has released its findings and “has found no evidence of a homicide, despite mobilizing significant resources involving 37 field offices to investigate Martinez’s death.” Predictably, only Smith briefly mentioned the news on February 8; the network has not yet issued a correction for its deceptive reporting:

    SANDRA SMITH (CO-HOST): New questions surrounding the November death of a U.S. Border agent. The FBI now says there's no evidence suggesting the agent and his partner were attacked. Rogelio Martinez died from severe head wounds hours after the two men were discovered lying in a drain near the Texas-Mexico border. The agents had been responding to reports of unknown activity. Martinez's partner suffered head injuries and says he can't remember what happened. The FBI says it will continue to investigate.