Media Matters: Conservative Media Scapegoats Immigrants

In a new report released yesterday, Media Matters for America, a progressive media watchdog group, finds that, among others, undocumented immigrants were the choice scapegoat for conservative figures in the media. The report documents various myths where undocumented immigrants are accused of causing the current economic crisis and “subverting the electoral process.”

On the 2008 economic crisis:
Conservative media figures have claimed or suggested that excessive lending to undocumented immigrants is responsible for the financial crisis, citing no credible evidence to support that claim. In several instances, media figures have baselessly claimed that according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 5 million mortgages taken out by undocumented immigrants are in default, or close to it. In fact, according to an October 9, 2008, Phoenix Business Journal article, HUD "says there is no basis to news reports that more than 5 million bad mortgages are held by illegal immigrants. A HUD spokesman said ... his agency has no data showing the number of illegal immigrants holding foreclosed or bad mortgages."
On voter fraud:
[C]onservative media figures advanced the myth that undocumented immigrants are attempting or are likely to attempt, en masse, to vote illegally. Among them were [columnist John] Fund -- who did so in his November 2, 2007, Wall Street Journal column and during the November 3, 2007, edition of Fox News' The Journal Editorial Report -- and Dobbs -- in numerous 2007 appearances on Lou Dobbs Tonight and CNN's Lou Dobbs This Week, as well as during the November 14, 2007, edition of CNN's The Situation Room.
(The individuals would often cite a July 2008 memorandum by the conservative Heritage Foundation that used speculation and skewed evidence to claim that undocumented immigrants could “potentially” influence state and federal elections. Truth in Immigration released a report rebutting the Heritage memorandum, which can be seen here)

On the stimulus package:
[T]he media falsely asserted or uncritically reported the false Republican claim that the [2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] would provide tax credits to undocumented immigrants. The falsehood originated in a January 29 Associated Press article that cited a single anonymous Republican official, subsequently spreading to the Drudge Report and many other conservative media outlets -- despite the fact that a revised version of AP's article made clear that the bill limited eligibility for the Making Work Pay tax credit to individuals with Social Security numbers, thereby excluding undocumented immigrants.
The full report can be viewed here.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund