NBC: Alabama's 'Extremely Tough' Immigration Law a 'Fear Factor' for School Children

At the top of Friday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams took aim at Alabama's new immigration law: "Fear factor. Children pulled out of school in this country while parents give up work they desperately need, all because of the sudden impact of a tough new law."

Later introducing a report on the Obama Justice Department blocking implementation of the "extremely tough new immigration law," Williams warned: "Federal officials say the state law invites discrimination against all foreign-born residents, and they're especially worried about its effect on children."

In the story that followed, correspondent Kerry Sanders lamented: "Alabama's new immigration law is perhaps most confusing to children. In just one week they've been told teachers will not single them out. But when a group of students near Birmingham with Hispanic-sounding last names was told to assemble...it was all tears."

Moments later, Sanders revealed that the ominous-sounding assembly, "was, in fact, to make sure they understood school officials would deport no one."

Sanders went on to portray the new law as damaging to the state economy:

Alabama's farmers say while this new state law is doing as it was designed, undocumented immigrants are indeed leaving, it's left the agriculture industry as the victims of unintended consequences. With 30 acres of tomatoes still to be picked, farmer Brian Alexander says most of the workers are now gone....In the first week of this law, farmers, poultry processors, contractors say while they've all lost workers, they're yet to see a rush to fill those jobs, despite Alabama's 9.9 percent unemployment rate.

Williams was not the first network anchor to use the term "fear factor" when discussing immigration law. On the July 15, 2010 broadcast of ABC's World News, anchor Diane Sawyer used the exact same phrase to attack Arizona's then-new immigration law.
                    
An MRC study from May of 2010, Elitist Networks Pile On Against Arizona Immigration Law,  found that by 12 to 1, NBC, ABC and CBS bashed that law enforcement effort as discriminatory.


Here is a full transcript of the October 7 Nightly News report:  

7:00PM ET TEASE:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Fear factor. Children pulled out of school in this country while parents give up work they desperately need, all because of the sudden impact of a tough new law.

7:07PM ET SEGMENT:

WILLIAMS: In this country, the Justice Department today asked a federal appeals court to block Alabama's extremely tough new immigration law which took effect last week. Federal officials say the state law invites discrimination against all foreign-born residents, and they're especially worried about its effect on children. Our report tonight from NBC's Kerry Sanders.

KERRY SANDERS: Alabama's new immigration law is perhaps most confusing to children. In just one week they've been told teachers will not single them out. But when a group of students near Birmingham with Hispanic-sounding last names was told to assemble...

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Our principal told us to come – all the Mexicans to come to the library.

SANDERS: ...it was all tears.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Half of the kids were already crying.

SANDERS: As the kids enjoyed a birthday party this week, they explained the school meeting was, in fact, to make sure they understood school officials would deport no one.

DAVID SEALE [JAMESON MIDDLE SCHOOL ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL]: We're already looking at about a quarter of our Hispanic population indicating that they will be leaving us very soon.

SANDERS: Alabama's farmers say while this new state law is doing as it was designed, undocumented immigrants are indeed leaving, it's left the agriculture industry as the victims of unintended consequences. With 30 acres of tomatoes still to be picked, farmer Brian Alexander says most of the workers are now gone. How many people were harvesting?

BRIAN ALEXANDER: We had roughly 85 to 90 workers.

SANDERS: And now?

ALEXANDER: 40 to 45.

SANDERS: Alexander says farmers want to hire Americans or those legally here, but no one wants the jobs.

KEITH SMITH [CULLMAN, ALABAMA FARMER]: As long as people eat, go to the grocery store and go to the restaurants, we're going to have to have these workers.

SANDERS: In the first week of this law, farmers, poultry processors, contractors say while they've all lost workers, they're yet to see a rush to fill those jobs, despite Alabama's 9.9 percent unemployment rate.

SCOTT BEASON [STATE SENATOR, R-AL]: They may have to adjust the pay a little bit, but Alabamians will work hard and they will take these jobs.

SANDERS: Senator Beason authored Alabama's new immigration law because he says the federal government wasn't doing its job. A law that may eventually force many of Alabama's estimated 120,000 undocumented immigrants out of state, but not out of the country. Kerry Sanders, NBC News, Steele, Alabama.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC