A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Lou Dobbs’ ‘Amnesty’ Claims


Q: Did CNN’s Lou Dobbs denounce an immigration bill “going through Congress right now”?

A: The three-and-a-half-minute video being circulated in chain e-mails is from 2007. Dobbs was criticizing a bipartisan Senate bill, which was supported by Bush and McCain, and which died soon after.

FULL QUESTION

EVERY ONE–PLEASE TAKE TIME TO LISTEN TO THIS–IT TELLS ABOUT THE BILL GOING THRU CONGRESS RIGHT NOW REGARDING IMMIGRATION.

EVEN CNN IS GETTING UPSET ABOUT THIS!!!!!!!!!!

Pass this on after you watch it. NOTICE THAT THIS IS FROM CNN, NOT FOX!!!

This 2-minute video should be mandatory viewing for every US citizen. If you have never passed anything on before, pass this on! Every American should be outraged!

http://d.yimg.com/kq/groups/17260182/1610997888/name/ftc-vi26.wmv

FULL ANSWER

We have been receiving several inquiries per week about this video clip of Lou Dobbs making various claims about an immigration bill that is supposedly being pushed by the Obama administration. One recent version even speculates that White House officials may have pressured CNN to fire Dobbs after seeing the broadcast. (He announced Nov. 11 that he’s leaving CNN, and news reports say he may run for the U.S. Senate or even run for president in 2012, as a Republican.)

However, what Dobbs is talking about in the clip is a long-dead bill that was backed by President Bush. The Dobbs news clip is from May 23, 2007, shortly after a group of Democratic and Republican senators announced at a news conference that they had worked out a bipartisan deal on a bill to allow millions of illegal immigrants to gain legal status and put themselves on a road to becoming U.S. citizens. It was strongly supported by President Bush and also by Arizona Sen. John McCain, who won the Republican nomination for president the following year.

But on the evening of May 22, 2007, House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio publicly called the bill “a piece of shit,” and the remark was widely reported the following day by Dobbs and others. The May 23, 2007, date of the Dobbs clip is confirmed by CNN’s news “crawl” giving headlines about other events that were being reported that day, including the sentencing of two former Coca-Cola employees on their conviction for attempting to sell company secrets.

In the video Dobbs calls the proposal an “amnesty bill,” the pejorative term favored by Republicans who opposed it. He describes a number of the bill’s provisions as “absurd” and “outrageous” and gives his unfavorable descriptions of them. He also makes claims that are misleading or untrue. For example, he states that “illegal alien gang members are eligible for amnesty.” In fact, the bipartisan compromise measure, which had been introduced two days earlier as Senate Amendment 1150, stated specifically that any alien who “at any time participated in a criminal gang” could be deported. Dobbs also floats a conspiracy theory about the creation of a “North American Union,” in which there would be no borders between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

Although the immigration measure was supported by the White House and several Senate Republicans, it was opposed by most GOP lawmakers. It died on June 7, 2007, when supporters managed to muster only 45 votes for a cloture motion to cut off debate, well short of the 60 required. The Obama administration so far has not produced its own version of an immigration bill, though it has promised to write one by the end of this year.

-Brooks Jackson

Sources

Lou Dobbs Tonight.” Transcript. CNN. 23 May 2007.

Senate Amendment 1150 to S. 1348, Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. (As introduced 21 May 2007).

Pear, Robert and Jim Rutenberg. “Senators in Bipartisan Deal on Immigration Bill.” The New York Times. 18 May 2007.