ABC Continues Attack on New Arizona Law: 'Target: Immigrants'

ABC on Wednesday continued to attack Arizona's tough new immigration law. Good Morning America devoted three segments to the subject, even misstating what the legislation does.

News anchor Juju Chang incorrectly asserted, "The law would allow police to question anyone suspected of being in the country illegally."

In fact, the law would allow police to check immigration status only if an individual has already been stopped for a legitimate police reason. An onscreen graphic derided, "Target: Immigrants: Arizona Law Set to Take Effect." Notice that, according to ABC, Arizona is simply focusing on immigrants, not illegal immigrants.

In an expanded version of a segment that aired on Tuesday's World News, Bill Weir, the new host of Nightline, saw the law as "proof that the threat of a crackdown has caused an exodus, now that a busted taillight or suspicious behavior can lead to deportation."

Weir interviewed the attorney general of Arizona, who opposes the law. Just as on Tuesday, he also talked to Daniel Rodriguez, whose mom illegally brought him across the border at age six.

GMA co-host George Stephanopoulos did feature Sheriff Joe Arpaio, supporter of the legislation and a tough enforcer of illegal immigration. Stephanopoulos twice pressed Arpaio on racial profiling.

He then questioned the need for the law: "And I guess one of the questions I have also, is why all of the extensive sweeps are continuing to be necessary? As Bill reported in his piece, illegal immigration has been going down, steadily, for the last several years."

Arpaio retorted, "Well, I don't want to take credit. But I've been doing this for three years."

Transcripts of the Bill Weir segment, which aired at 7:06am EDT, and Juju Chang's news brief, follow:

7am tease

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Plus, border battle. Temporary jails goes up as Arizona's tough, new immigration law takes effect tonight. Some communities, now ghost towns, as immigrants flee. How will police enforce the law?

7:06

ABC GRAPHIC: Target: Immigrants: Arizona Law Set to Take Effect

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Staying in the west, now, police are preparing for a showdown in Arizona, where everyone is waiting to see if a federal judge will put a hold on that new state law that cracks down on suspected illegal immigrants. Unless the judge acts, the new law will take effect tonight. Nightline anchor Bill Weir is live in Phoenix, where he finds that it is already pitting neighbor against neighbor. Hey, Bill.

BILL WEIR: That is right, George. President Obama, the Justice Department argues that immigration is a job for the feds. The Republican governor in this state, Jan Brewer, says the feds haven't done enough. But it is the lack of immigration reform that's filled so many Arizonans with anger. And, now, so many Latinos with fear. Outside the Maricopa county jail this morning, vacant tents, raised to hold the surge of immigrants without papers. And around Hispanic neighborhoods, vacant apartments, struggling businesses and empty school desks. Proof that the threat of a crackdown has caused an exodus, now that a busted taillight or suspicious behavior can lead to deportation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE: Diplomacy may be the greatest asset in the days to come.

WEIR: As cops across the state study instructional videos on the new law, protesters paint their signs and organize. Some vowing civil disobedience. A decade ago, 1.6 million illegal immigrants were captured on the Mexico border. Last year, that number was over 500,000. Down 65 percent. Beefed-up security and the recession has made American borders more secure than anytime in decades. But when jobs are scarce and a rancher is murdered by smugglers, frustration boils. And caught in the middle are people here for decades. The mother of Daniel Rodriguez brought him across when he was six. What would you say to the person that says you're breaking the law by being in this country?

DANIEL RODRIGUEZ: I think I would tell that person that the law didn't make sense. I didn't commit anymore wrong by being six and a half and coming with my family here. And not making any decision to come. And in fact, I think it's immoral for somebody to try to punish me.

WEIR: Also caught in the middle, Arizona's top cop, who opposes the new law, while running against the Republican incumbent for governor. If you're opposed to this law as attorney general, how can, ultimately, you enforce it?

TERRY GODDDARD (Arizona Attorney General): My policy concerns are not relevant to my oath to defend and protect the laws of the state. I have urged the legislature, the governor, to focus on the crimes on the border. That's what I believe should be job one. And this doesn't do it. It distracts law enforcement's resources into a whole, new area.

WEIR: And Attorney General Goddard argues that this will drive a wedge between the Latino community and law enforcement. And what's interesting, George, while, now, local and state cops will be able to arrest suspected illegal immigrants, there- it's still the federal job, still ICE's job to deport them. And if they don't comply that could make for some crowded job and tough decisions.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's right, which is one of the reasons they're building new temporary jails as well.

8:03

JUJU CHANG: In other news, a federal judge is expected to decide today whether to block the nation's toughest immigration law. With the law scheduled to go into effect in Arizona tomorrow, authorities are bracing for more protests. The law would allow police to question anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org