tags: Press Releases

New America’s Voice Memo: GOP and Right Wing Media Are Leading Drivers of “Open Borders” Misinformation

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Read the new memo: HERE and read the accompanying exclusive in Vanity Fair HERE

Washington, DC – A new memo from America’s Voice details how Republicans and right wing media allies have been leading drivers of the lie that the border is “open,” spending the equivalent of millions of dollars to amplify this message – disinformation being amplified and manipulated by bad actors and smugglers preying on migrants and asylum seekers.

As Caleb Ecarma writes in Vanity Fair on the memo and implications:

“While right-wing media’s ‘open borders’ messaging has proven salient for stateside viewers, there’s also reason to believe that it’s impacting perceptions of the border abroad. ‘I met with migrants in Costa Rica that were turned back, and their sense was that they will be able to enter freely,’ Representative Adriano Espaillat, a New York Democrat, told me, arguing that the ‘confusion’ stems squarely from right-wing disinformation.

… Just how this misinformation is reaching migrants is not entirely clear. But it’s well known that human smugglers, who ferry migrants across the border for a fee, have widely promoted the ‘open borders’ lie as a way of driving business, according to Dylan Corbett, executive director of the Hope Border Institute, a nonprofit that works with migrants.”

Among the key findings in the new America’s Voice memo:

  • Based on research from Media Matters, the new America’s Voice memo highlights that Fox News mentioned “open borders” 3,282 times from November 1, 2020, through March 16, 2023. Newsmax has mentioned “open borders” 2,727 times during the same period. Fox News and Newsmax mentioned “open borders” during time slots valued at nearly $27 million for advertisers. Most of that was on Fox, which had a value of nearly $24 million. Newsmax’s value was approximately $3 million. 
  • America’s Voice ad tracking project identified well over 600 different paid ads from Republican campaigns in the ‘22 midterms that pushed the lie about “open borders.”

The border is, in fact, not open and the Biden administration and leading Democrats have forcefully maintained this fact and consistently communicated a “don’t come” message. The Biden administration also has kept in place restrictive border policies – and even expanded some measures implemented during the Trump administration. While we at America’s Voice don’t support or celebrate some of the Biden administration’s restrictive border policies or their simplistic, “don’t come” message, they are facts at odds with the GOP and right wing media portrayals.

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice

“There is only one party loudly proclaiming that the border is open: the GOP. Together with Fox News and other right wing media allies, Republicans’ ‘open borders’ falsehoods are the tip of the spear when it comes to their relentless anti-immigrant political attacks against Democrats, which they started even while Donald Trump was still in office. 

Dis/misinformation like ‘open borders’ contributes to border chaos and empowers smugglers and bad actors to exploit desperate migrants who are fleeing their countries of origin. ‘Open border’ narratives poison the well for real policy solutions, stir fear and chaos into the political discourse, and prevent us from having a rational dialogue about how to best move forward on immigration policy. We need policy solutions that meet the moment when it comes to forced migration and the southern border, not GOP-led fear-inducing narratives and political stunts that prevent us from making any progress on this issue.”