Laura Ingraham has long stopped pretending that her views are anything but white nationalist fearmongering aimed at aging racists in an effort to drum up votes for Trump in 2020.
But it's never been more obvious than in Wednesday night's segment of her Fox News show called, what else, "The Left's Effort to Remake America." She starts off by throwing vitriol at "New York's new socialist It Girl" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Bronx progressive who is likely to become the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress, playing a clip in which Ocasio-Cortez says America has changed since the centrist-Democrat heyday of the '90s. What Ocasio-Cortez meant was that establishment Democrats are aging and millennials, angered by low wages and lack of healthcare, are flocking to progressive politics.
But Ingraham doesn't catch that part. Instead, in an effort to diminish Ocasio-Cortez's intelligence, Ingraham comments on how many times she says "like," manipulating her viewers by playing on their sexism. Then, she wages a weirdly picked culture-war battle, saying, "As if she knows all of America from her loft in Queens." (Sidebar: Ocasio-Cortez doesn't live in a "loft" in "Queens," and implying that Queens is an elitist place comes off as bizarre, especially from someone with a net worth of $45 million.)
And don't even try to poke gentle fun at Ingraham's minivan. That part of Ocasio-Cortez' statement seemed to get her the most. We all have our priorities.
Laura Ingraham: "The America we know and love doesn't exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted on the American people, and they are changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don't like ... this is related to both illegal and legal immigration" pic.twitter.com/s5G2qIY4W0— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) August 9, 2018
Ingraham then segues into insisting that she thinks America really has changed, but not in the way Ocasio-Cortez suggests. "In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn't exist anymore," she says. "Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people, and they're changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don't like. From Virginia to California, we see stark examples of how radically, in some ways, the country has changed. Now much of this is related to both illegal and, in some cases, legal immigration that, of course, progressives love."
Exactly which America is it that Ingraham knows and loves? The homogenous, creepy Pleasantville suburbia that barely exists anymore? The one of the National Origins Act of 1924, which restricted immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe, calling it "undesirable"? The one of the Chinese Exclusion Act? Or maybe the one where rude, entitled white men yell at Latinx women on the street insisting, "This is America, speak English"?
"There is something slipping away in this country and it's not about race or ethnicity," she adds. "It's what was once a common understanding by both parties that American citizenship is a privilege, and one that at a minimum requires respect for the rule of law and loyalty to our constitution."
If it's not about race or ethnicity, why is she using language that's reminiscent of Richard Spencer's and using scare tactics like calling immigrants criminals? And if we're going to talk about the rule of law, it wouldn't be fair not to bring up the asylum law that grants refugees protection, which the Trump administration is attacking.
Judging by Ingraham's rhetoric and support of Trump's immigration policies, her pre-"demographic change" America is a white one, and people who come here from other countries — even "legally," as she says — are not welcome. In her America, the fact that the Census projects the U.S. to be 49.9% white in 2045, for the first time a minority, is a tragedy. Her America is afraid of change.
Make no mistake: The America Ingraham is pining for is a regressive one.
And then, she pulls the oldest trick in the book, playing on one of people's most common fears — being a victim of crime — to justify Trump's inhumane border policies and accelerating of ICE activity, even against legal permanent residents. She brings up the case of Juan Ramon Vasquez, an undocumented immigrant from Honduras who was deported in 2009 but came back and was later jailed for raping a 5-year-old in Philadelphia, a sanctuary city. She mentions other horrific crimes.
Hate to break it to you, but facts don't care about Fox News hosts' feelings.
Fact 1: Despite isolated incidents — which happen among American citizens, too — a number of recent studies clearly show that undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than those born on U.S. soil. According to a study done this year by the libertarian Cato Institute that looked at criminal conviction data for 2015 in Texas, there were 56% fewer criminal convictions of undocumented immigrants than of native-born Americans. They were also less likely to commit homicide and larceny. While undocumented immigrants were more likely to be convicted of "gambling, kidnapping, smuggling, and vagrancy," those only represented 0.18% of all convictions. Another recent study found a correlation between high populations of undocumented immigrants and lower rates of violent crime.
Fact 2: The American people are more supportive of immigration than ever. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in June found that 38% said legal immigration to the U.S. should stay at its current level, 32% say there should be more of it, and 24% say there should be less of it. The portion of Americans who support legal immigration has increased from 10% to 32% since 2001, while the portion of those who favor a decrease has gone down from 53% to 24%. Most people (69%) also view undocumented immigrants very or somewhat sympathetically.
But of course, Ingraham is just presenting the facts and is not at all xenophobic — because the children she drives around in her minivan are adopted.