‘Anti-Immigrant’ Label Weaponized at Univision, Telemundo

November 19th, 2018 7:26 PM

When you hear television anchors and correspondents bandy about the label “anti-immigrant” in their reporting, that’s a telltale sign you are probably hearing brazenly dishonest news.

During the three months leading up to the 2018 mid-term elections, an MRC Latino study of Univision and Telemundo’s principal national evening news programs found that anchors and correspondents at both networks routinely used the “anti-immigrant” label to deliberately and dishonestly portray measures or statements against illegal immigration as if they were also aimed against legal immigration and legal immigrants in the United States.

Specifically, between August 1 and October 31, 2018 Univision and Telemundo anchors and reporters applied the “anti-immigrant” label to President Trump, his administration and other Republican officials a total of 35 times during their national evening newscasts. That figure does not include the use of similarly dishonest, grossly imprecise characterizations that were also used in reference to efforts to combat and reduce illegal immigration, such as the phrases “persecution of immigrants” and “attacking immigrants.”

The montage below illustrates several of the 18 times the “anti-immigrant” label was used on Univision’s two national evening newscasts between August 1 and October 31, 2018.

FELIX DE BEDOUT, ANCHOR, NOTICIERO UNIVISION: The federal government tries to establish a strong anti-immigrant policy as do politicians and legislators.

ILIA CALDERON, ANCHOR, NOTICIERO UNIVISION: Despite the anti-immigrant policy of the Trump administration, thousands of Central Americans continue to risk crossing the border.

VIVIANA AVILA, CORRESPONDENT, NOTICIERO UNIVISION: Activists say that in the face of the anti-immigrant rhetoric of Governor Bruce Rauner.

PEGGY CARRANZA, CORRESPONDENT, NOTICIERO UNIVISION: Activists fear that President Donald Trump will use this study to intensify his anti-immigrant policy.

PATRICIA JANIOT, ANCHOR, NOTICIERO UNIVISION: EDICION NOCTURNA: And here in the United States, Donald Trump’s administration continues its anti-immigrant crusade.

ENRIQUE ACEVEDO, ANCHOR, NOTICIERO UNIVISION: EDICION NOCTURNA: central part of his anti-immigrant policy, President Trump.

Meanwhile at Telemundo, the ‘anti-immigrant’ label was used 17 times on the network’s evening news, with anchor José Díaz-Balart alone repeating it nine times. In one particular newscast, a week before Election Day, on October 30, Díaz-Balart used the label twice, and the phrase "against immigrants" once. The NBC sister network for the U.S. Hispanic market used the label “anti-immigrant” and similar phrases, such as “persecution of immigrants”, in most of their stories having to do with statements and policies addressing illegal immigration.

JOSÉ DÍAZ-BALART, ANCHOR, TELEMUNDO: The explosive announcement adds more fuel to the fire to the harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric of Trump.

DÍAZ-BALART: The anti-immigrant rhetoric of the President has ignited ranchers and groups of white supremacists who are willing to use their own weapons.

DÍAZ-BALART: And with the country shaken by three hate crimes, including a massacre, the strongest message of President Trump is against immigrants.

CRISTINA LONDOÑO, CORRESPONDENT, TELEMUNDO: But it doesn´t surprise him that the President continues to concentrate on anti-immigrant messages.

VÍCTOR HUGO RODRÍGUEZ, CORRESPONDENT, TELEMUNDO: But it has been the anger and frustration because of the actions of President Trump against the immigration...

JULIO VAQUEIRO, ANCHOR, TELEMUNDO: In the meantime, the persecution of immigrants continues.

As MRC Latino has previously documented, the “anti-immigrant” label as used above has no rational justification, unless one deliberately refuses to acknowledge the distinction between immigrants who are lawfully authorized to be in the United States and those who are not.

The use of the “anti-immigrant” label has clearly been politically weaponized by these networks, in lock-step with Democrat politicians, in order to give their audiences the impression that President Trump or other Republican officials are speaking or taking action against the vast, majority lawful immigrant community in the United States.

In almost every case, the news in question could be accurately described by employing the term “anti-illegal immigration” or, in positive terms, such as “tougher enforcement of federal laws against illegal immigration” and “tightening requirements for granting asylum.”

MRC Latino Director Ken Oliver, news analyst Kathleen Krumhansl and intern Garvin Oliver contributed to this study.