ABC Frets: Local Governments Going 'Too Far' Against Illegals?

On Friday's "Good Morning America," reporter Claire Shipman fretted over the fact that local governments are aggressively fighting illegal immigration. An ABC graphic worried, "Crackdown on Illegal Immigrants: Have Communities Gone Too Far?" Discussing the efforts by a Texas town to stop the influx of illegals, Shipman claimed, "...Neighbors suddenly find they can't help themselves. The immigration debate exploding without the niceties." She also lamented the tone of the debate, saying that since the defeat of the Senate immigration bill, "...What had once been a lofty political debate has now become a gritty, explosive reality."

At no point did it occur to ABC to wonder if illegals had "gone too far" in breaking American laws. Rather, Shipman highlighted sympathetic stories of terrified immigrants. She asserted that in the small town of Irving, Texas, "Latino parents have grown so nervous, they're keeping their kids out of schools." The GMA reporter also talked to an anonymous illegal immigrant in Virginia who recounted the ordeal of having a child who "comes home and asked me, 'Why do they hate us?'"

Additionally, GMA alerted viewers to a special edition of "Good Morning America" that will air on Monday, October 8. Co-host Diane Sawyer will be in Mexico to do extensive reporting on that country and illegal immigration in general. She will be interviewing Mexican President Felipe Calderon and promised to grill him with tough questions about immigration and controlling the borders. However, considering that this is the same reporter who asked Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad about what songs he has on his iPod, viewers could be forgiven for having some skepticism.

A transcript of the October 5 segment, which aired at 7:14am, follows:

ABC Graphic: "Crackdown on Illegal Immigrants: Have Communities Gone Too Far?"

Chris Cuomo: "Let's go now to the crackdown on illegal immigration. All over America this morning, a debate is raging about the best way to address this crisis with millions of people calling on the federal government to get tough on illegal immigrants. But how they are getting tough is raising questions as well. GMA senior national correspondent Claire Shipman joins us live now from Washington. Good morning, Claire."

Claire Shipman: "Good morning, Chris. Here's what's happening, why you're seeing so many dramatic headlines. When immigration reform efforts failed, federal law enforcement agencies decided they would start enforcing the laws on the books. Local government, local law enforcement, they've been coming up with their own solutions. And so what had once been a lofty political debate has now become a gritty, explosive reality. Irving, Texas--"

Unidentified man: "Obey the laws of this country!"

Shipman: "--where neighbors suddenly find they can't help themselves. The immigration debate exploding without the niceties."

Doris Shields (Texas resident): "That's a bunch of bull over there that we even allow them to march on our land when they're here illegally!"

Dan Stein (President, Federation for American Immigration Reform): "It's political dynamite. People are saying we've had enough. We can't take it anymore and if the federal government doesn't get serious about it, we're just going to do the job ourselves."

Shipman: "But lately, the federal government has been trying to prove it can get serious. In California, a staggering immigration sweep. 1,300 illegal immigrants arrested. In Nevada, crackdowns at McDonald's restaurants. In New York, the aftermath of a dead-of-night raid that took this woman's husband. 'Get used to it,' says the Homeland Security boss. He thinks immigration reform might be better but--"

Michael Chertoff (Secretary of Homeland Security): "I think we have an obligation to use the tools that we do have at least to achieve what the law currently requires."

Shipman: "And in Irving, like many places around the country, the locals aren't waiting for the feds. Police are turning over anyone they arrest who turns out to be an illegal immigrant. Latino parents have grown so nervous, they're keeping their kids out of schools."

Crystal Chacon (Texas student): "Oh, we're just scared of going out, just because we look Hispanic, they're pulling us over."

Shipman: "Indeed, this man is so frightened about being rounded up in Virginia, where local governments are also threatening action, he'd only talk to us in shadow. [Man speaking in Spanish. Shipman gives English translation.] 'What breaks my heart,' he says 'is when my six-year-old daughter comes home and asked me, 'Why do they hate us?' Now, that gentleman's daughter is an American citizen. They were born here. He collects trash for a living. His Virginia employer doesn't ask any questions. But he says he's never been so frightened in his life. It's a wrenching issue, certainly, for both sides and Diane Sawyer is looking for answers in Mexico City. Diane?"

Diane Sawyer: "Hello, Claire, and good morning, America. We are in Mexico City, Mexico this morning because, as you just heard, the intense pressure is building to do something about illegal immigrants in the United States. And we're going to take you to the source. We're going to show you who is going across this border and how they're getting there. I'm also going to be talking to the president of this country, President Calderon, to talk to him about, is he going to crack down or in fact, is it to his advantage to leave the border open? We're also going to try and tackle this question of English in the United States. Does it change the country if English is no longer the only commonly used language? And I'll be showing you around a Mexico you have never seen before. It is an amazing place. We have things to show you that will make your mouth drop. And we're going to introduce you to the richest man on the planet. No, it is not Bill Gates. He lives here. And you will not believe how he lives."

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the associate editor for the Media Research Center's site.