Appearance Alert!
MRC's Brent Bozell on FNC's The Kelly File, Friday 9:40pm ET/PT

NPR's Liasson Excludes Amnesty Opponents from Immigration Story

NPR's Mara Liasson noticeably left out anti-illegal immigration conservatives on Tuesday's Morning Edition as she reported on President's Obama's latest push for "comprehensive" immigration reform. Liasson only played clips from the President, Democrat Rep. Luis Gutierrez, and Republican consultant Marty Wilson, who claimed that "the hardline approach on immigration...is not going to work."

Host Steve Inskeep introduced the correspondent's report by noting the President's forthcoming speech later in the day outlining his "principles for an immigration overhaul." He continued by recalling how "President Bush's immigration efforts encountered opposition from his own party, and many Republicans are also likely to resist President Obama's efforts."

Instead of turning to those who would be part of such a resistance, Liasson quickly turned to an excerpt from Obama's recent commencement address at Miami Dade College, where he proclaimed, "I strongly believe we should fix our broken immigration system...and I want to work with Democrats and Republicans, yes, to protect our borders and enforce our laws, and address the status of millions of undocumented workers."

After playing her first sound bite from Rep. Gutierrez (who boasted, "I have to tell you, we're headed in the right direction. I'm more optimistic than I've been in recent memory"), the NPR reporter highlighted that the Illinois Democrat was "among the dozens of people invited to the White House in recent weeks to talk about immigration. Along with Democratic members of Congress...there were two Republicans, moderates Michael Bloomberg and Arnold Schwarzenegger." However, Liasson misidentified the New York City mayor's political affiliation, as he hasn't been a Republican since 2007.

Towards the end of her report, Liasson introduced her two clips from Wilson, who managed Carly Fiorina's failed 2010 Senate bid in California, by stating that "Republicans say they want to pass bills that would enhance border security, not legalize undocumented workers. But GOP strategist Marty Wilson thinks that's shortsighted. Wilson ran Carly Fiorina's Senate race in California, a race he says she lost because she didn't get enough Hispanic votes."

Besides criticizing the supposed "hardline approach on immigration," the Republican strategist, in the correspondent's words, "thinks Republicans should add a guest worker program to their border security bills that would allow them to appear welcoming to Hispanics without angering their conservative base with talk of amnesty."

This isn't the first time this year that Liasson has conspicuously excluded anti-illegal immigration conservatives. On the March 18 Morning Edition, the NPR correspondent apparently couldn't find any to comment for her report on Utah's new and "milder" guest worker law.

The full transcript of Mara Liasson's report from Tuesday's Morning Edition:

STEVE INSKEEP: When President Obama gave an interview on 60 Minutes, he said the president must do more than one thing at a time, and today, he tries to demonstrate that in El Paso. Amid negotiations over the budget, as well as the aftermath of Osama bin Laden's death, the President will talk about immigration. He plans to lay out principles for an immigration overhaul. President Bush's immigration efforts encountered opposition from his own party, and many Republicans are also likely to resist President Obama's efforts.

Here's NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson.

MARA LIASSON: Immigration is back on President Obama's front burner. Today in El Paso, Texas, he'll continue his new push for immigration legislation, which began with a series of high profile meetings at the White House and a speech at the Miami Dade College commencement late last month.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (from speech at Miami Dade College): I strongly believe we should fix our broken immigration system- (crowd applauds) fix it so that it meets our 21st century economic and security needs, and I want to work with Democrats and Republicans, yes, to protect our borders and enforce our laws, and address the status of millions of undocumented workers.

LIASSON: After the last attempt at immigration legislation died in the lame duck session of Congress, Hispanic leaders took out their frustration on the White House. They wanted the President to do more to fulfill his campaign pledge to pass a bill, and now he is.

REPRESENTATIVE LUIS GUTIERREZ: I have to tell you, we're headed in the right direction. I'm more optimistic than I've been in recent memory.

LIASSON: That's Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez. He was among the dozens of people invited to the White House in recent weeks to talk about immigration. Along with Democratic members of Congress, there were celebrities like Eva Longoria and Emilio Estefan. There were two Republicans, moderates Michael Bloomberg and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The President is not only devoting more attention to immigration, he's also changing his approach to deportations. In an effort to prove it was tough on border security, the administration had substantially increased the number of deportations, angering Hispanic leaders. But now, the White House has decided to move away from deporting college-age kids. The law that failed in the lame duck session, the DREAM Act, would have allowed young people brought here illegally by their parents to get legal status if they were in college or the military. Mr. Obama told a Univision town hall meeting that while he couldn't get the DREAM Act through Congress, he does have the power to shift the emphasis of law enforcement away from young illegals.

OBAMA (from Univision town hall meeting): We have redesigned our enforcement practices under the law to make sure that we're focusing primarily on criminals. And so, our deportation of criminals are up about 70 percent, our deportation of non-criminals are down, and that's because we want to focus our resources on those folks who are destructive to the community.

LIASSON: So the President has reassured his own base on this issue, but now, he needs a bipartisan process in Congress, and on that score, Gutierrez isn't optimistic.

GUTIERREZ: When we had a majority of 40 votes in the House and 10 in the Senate, we didn't do it, and we couldn't do it even during the lame duck session. It's very unlikely we're going to do it now.

LIASSON: Republicans say they want to pass bills that would enhance border security, not legalize undocumented workers. But GOP strategist Marty Wilson thinks that's shortsighted. Wilson ran Carly Fiorina's Senate race in California, a race he says she lost because she didn't get enough Hispanic votes.

MARTY WILSON: The hardline approach on immigration, which is find them, arrest them, and throw them out, is not going to work. You know, Latinos are a growing population. In a state like California, they're a growing political force, and unless we come up with a better way to talk about immigration, we're going to continue to way underperform, and that does not indicate that you're going to win many elections.

LIASSON: Wilson thinks Republicans should add a guest worker program to their border security bills that would allow them to appear welcoming to Hispanics without angering their conservative base with talk of amnesty.

WILSON: It would be politically smart for the Republican to come up with an approach to immigration that, while it may not go as far as the President would propose, would still come up with some meaningful reform, and I think politically, it would do the Republicans a lot of good.

LIASSON: Right now, it's hard to imagine the two parties finding common ground on this issue, but the White House clearly hopes the President will win either way. If he can get some kind of immigration bill passed, he'll have fulfilled his promise to Hispanic voters. If he can't, he'll be able to argue that it was the Republicans who stopped him. Mara Liasson, NPR News, the White House.


- Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.