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.