Poor Reporting Leads to Immigration Confusion

As FAIR has repeatedly pointed out, the media have a particularly poor record when it comes to providing accurate coverage of immigration issues. A recent story, about a British family that supposedly wandered, unintentionally, into the United States from Canada, is a perfect example of how the media selectively ignores key data points in order to portray migrants as hapless victims.

Fox News recently reported that the Connors family (David, Eileen, their two-year old twins, their three-month-old infant, and their cousin Michael and other un-named family members), British citizens visiting Canada “accidentally” took “a wrong turn” and crossed the border into the United States. The Connors claimed they became lost on an unpaved road after swerving to avoid an animal that ran on to the nearby main artery.

The story goes on to criticize the treatment that the family received at the hands of U.S. immigration officials, implying that Border Patrol agents over-reacted to a simple error, beyond the Connors’ control. The family was taken into custody, processed for removal proceedings and transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Berks County Family Detention Center. According to Mrs. Eileen Connors, “We have been treated like criminals here, stripped of our rights, and lied to…This would never happen in the United Kingdom to U.S. citizens, or anyone else, because people there are treated with dignity.”

The Hill reports that the family has filed a complaint with the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. However, the publication declined to provide any relevant details of that complaint beyond the assertions that the Connors were “scared” and dissatisfied with the conditions of their detention.

The vast majority of the published accounts begin from the presumption that the Connors did absolutely nothing wrong. However, if one combs through the details that are casually hidden many paragraphs into these stories, a careful reader will begin to notice that the Connors appear to have been far from blameless:

BBC News refers to the family as “British tourists” but reports that the Connors’ vehicle “was captured on video ‘slowly and deliberately’ driving through a ditch to enter the U.S.” In addition, the BBC report states that at least, “two adults in the vehicle had previously been denied travel authorization to the U.S.” – although it fails to identify which adults had been refused admission by immigration authorities.

Meanwhile, even as they continued to refer to the family as victims of mistreatment, the Washington Post and the New York Times both noted that Canada “refused to allow” the Connors to return and attempts “to contact the United Kingdom consulate were unsuccessful.”

In fact, an astute observer, even one only vaguely familiar with immigration law and procedure, might even conclude that the Connors were up to something questionable:

Most U.K. citizens may enter the U.S. for 90 days without a visa, pursuant to the Visa Waiver Program. Citizens of countries that participate in the visa waiver program are usually denied admission to the United States due to prior immigration violations, national security concerns or threats to public safety.

And, while Canada is an independent nation, it’s still part of the British Commonwealth. The Queen of England is the Canadian sovereign. The queen has a formal representative in the Canadian government referred to as the Royal Governor General of Canada. Therefore, it is highly unusual to refuse re-admission to British subjects who had been admitted to Canada as tourists. 

Are the Connors criminals, terrorists, prior visa overstayers? It’s impossible to tell because media outlets that supposedly have an obligation to provide an objective account of the facts have produced nothing but puff pieces that unabashedly push an open-borders ideology.

One thing is certain, however, the Connors are not U.S. citizens. They have no right to enter the U.S. without government authorization. And neither ICE, nor the Border Patrol, did anything remotely inappropriate when they arrested, detained, and commenced removal proceedings against them. Of course, that is the one point that none of the major media accounts bothers to make.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar
    Don Richardson on

    These folks in the media are globalists who hope to destroy the U.S.A. as founded. Some of them probably believe that would lead to one big happy family of all the humans. I would guess that most of them have some financial interest in pushing for tyranny in our country which is always the end result of politic movements like what they are pushing.

  2. avatar

    The main steam media has their own agenda and it has nothing to do with the truth. Immigrations is only one of their ill-fated narrative.

  3. avatar

    All these newspaper stories are long on quotes from “advocates”, people who we know that their paychecks depend on charging racism and ICE mistreatment. Just like the Southern Poverty Law Center who are always quoted labelling one group or other as a “hate group”. It’s a business plain and simple. The print media is overwhelmingly leftist. Last year the New York Times hired Sarah Jeong, a Korean-American, even after old texts showed up of her saying “white people smell like wet dogs” and other pleasantries about whites. She’s still there. Replace white with the name of any other ethnic group and see how long before she would have been out the door.

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