On Fox and Friends show of March 19, the presenters turned to an almost far-fetched topic: the undocumented immigration coming from China. This point of attack is not-so-new workhorse in their crusade against our own government. It just shows one more time Fox News as the incubator of anti-immigrant hate.
The ‘Biden’ border crisis
The name of the segment in the program: “the Biden Border Crisis”. The sign appears at the bottom of the screen. Biden, in giant letters. The same choice of words appear in the documents of various committees of the Lower House “investigating” the topic. The same talking points.
Since the Republicans recovered the majority of the House, the border debacle is “investigated” (in addition to the adventures of the son of President Biden, which will occupy a central place as the 2024 presidential election campaign approaches).
Below that sign, in red and white letters: “The Chinese threat.”
This is just an example of the structure of the American extremist media.
Before the talking heads talk, there is a video of a group of calm and well-dressed people, supposedly undocumented Chinese immigrants squatting after being stopped while trying to cross the border illegally.
The moderator spends almost a minute presenting the topic, much longer than the response of his interviewee, commentator Lee Steinhauer, author of “The Art of the New Cold War: United States against China. What America must do to win.”
The number of illegal crossings into the United States from the People’s Republic of China, the presenter says, “last year exceeded the numbers of the previous two years combined.”
That is scary. But, what are the real numbers that alarm him so much?
In fiscal year 2021, the number was 450; in 2022, it rose to 2,176, and this fiscal year, 4,366.
The Big Alarm
That’s all? Is that a big alarm? That four thousand people out of a nation of 1,412 million are trying to emigrate to the United States? That they make less than 0.5% of the total.
Without paying attention to the derisory numbers, the presenter adds that “drug cartels are making huge profits from this situation, because they charge three times more than what migrants from Central America usually pay them.”
He continues: “The growing number of Chinese is one thing, the advertising that drug cartels do for profit is another, but what worries us most is what is their goal?” And he raises his eyebrow and it is understood: these Chinese are dangerous. What do they want? What do they really, really want?
“Our open borders are a magnet for these people!” replies the interviewee, Steinhauer. “Of course they prefer to live here than in China, which is more and more totalitarian. The cartels understand this, they take advantage of it and try to enter the Chinese market .
“Certainly,” he continues, “there are people who come from China for nefarious purposes. The Chinese Communist Party sends people here to participate in espionage and internal influence operations…”, he explains, before moving on to Beijing’s relationship with Moscow.
This is the garbage we can watch on Fox News. Day after day, the same incitement, exaggeration, lack of real news, suggestive and malicious comments. Insinuation (innuendo). And simple lies. There is no news topic that is not used for propaganda.
In these programs, Fox News does not do journalism. Instead it reflects the prevailing extremism of the right. More than that, it’s the engine.
Fox News is the incubator of hate
The moderator—a misnomer, to say the least—insists: “So what is the goal of these Chinese citizens coming to the United States? How many of them are here to hurt the United States of America?
Answer Lee Steinhauer: “Trying to differentiate between those who come here to harm the country and those who just want to leave China is next to impossible. The only solution is to strengthen the border.”
So, Mr. Steinhauer, how many? All of them?
They come from 147 countries
In another segment, today, they report about the Chief of the Border Patrol, Raúl Ortiz, who said that so far, in fiscal year 23 (which began in October), his agents have intercepted 900,590 people from 147 countries. Perhaps he did not explain that many were detained for the second, third or fourth time, because once deported, they try to cross again and are apprehended again and again. Or not. That reduces the final numbers.
For this reason, Ortiz declares, announces Fox News, “the Department of Homeland Security does not have ‘operational control’ of the Southern Border.”
Ortiz’s statement is used in the program, not as a starting point for the analysis of a worrying situation, but as a basis to establish that this is “a very hard blow to Joe Biden.”
But what Ortiz alleges is indeed a reason for concern. Undocumented immigration to the United States is a serious, pressing, difficult problem. Complicated. The main countries that expel immigration –Mexico and those in Central America– will continue trying to come as long as they live in poverty and amid violence. But there are social and economic solutions that must be implemented there: creation of sources of employment. Changes that benefit the population. Making people believe again in the future. We can help, be it through private investments or others.
Fox News Synchronized Incitement
Incitement against immigrants – the source of the hate engine – is a regular ingredient in the Fox News programming menu. Their hosts within the Republican political leadership compete with one another for the title of champion of anti-immigrant hostility. They walk the narrow path that differentiates concern for the nation’s interests and the most classic racism.
On Sunday the 19th, Fox News interviewed republican Senator Rick Scott from Florida on María Bartiromo’s show ‘Sunday Morning Futures’, to discuss why Americans should be ‘fed up’ with the border crisis.
Bartiromo begins the segment by trying to relate the enormous number of illegal crossings to the growing crime.
“Biden’s open borders policy continues to have deadly consequences,” she says, showing a grandmother with a young child. “María Tambunga, 71, and her granddaughter Emilia, seven, were killed last Monday in Texas when a human smuggler crashed into their car.”
What do you think, Senator Scott, of this relationship?
The senator begins with a dramatic statement: “Americans should be fed up with their federal government right now for having a wide open southern border.”
“We all have to wake up.”
The problem is not new
The numbers of illegal crossings are too high. No country can afford to have open or porous borders. The United States has the right to control its borders and decide who it allows in and why, to serve its own population.
But the problem is long-standing.
For decades, the population of undocumented immigrants has fluctuated around 11 to 12 million. Many have already taken root. Their children born here are US citizens. Those who came as children illegally and are now adults fight for their legalization as Dreamers.
Undocumented immigrants contribute to the country in taxes, work, and culture. Thousands of them serve in the Armed Forces. They are also university professors, scientists, artists, lawyers.
This is not just a logistical problem. Nor a political situation mixing the drug cartels, the paranoia of seeing a handful of Chinese desperate migrants as spies, or identifying illegal migration with murderous crime. Powerful economic interests promote, encourage and profit from cheap, temporary migrant labor, especially farm workers.
And the solutions? Why are they taking so long?
Because the hatred of the immigrant is an ideological, partisan tool. It is not seeking a solution. Hate serves the extremists to harangue, incite and recruit the voters of tomorrow. Voters fed with the sick notion that immigrants, specifically Latinos, once legalized and naturalized will vote Democrat.
The political soldiers working for Fox News, who play at being journalists, find interviewees that repeat their own regurgitated phraseology and magnify a false perspective of history based on anti-immigrant alarmism and violent reactions.
Not because their predicament is false it is weak. On the contrary: hate is an almost unbreakable material.
This article was supported in whole or in part by funds provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library and the Latino Media Collaborative.
Founder and co-editor of Latino Los Angeles. Editor Emeritus of La Opinion, former Editor-in-Chief. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a journalist, columnist, blogger, poet, novelist, and short story writer. Was the editorial director of Huffington Post Voces. Editor-in-chief of the weekly Tiempo in Israel. Is the father of three grown children and lives with Celia and with Rosie, Almendra and Yinyit in Los Angeles.