Fox Provides a Case Study of the Polarized State of the Nation's Immigration Debate

By Jerry Kammer, March 3, 2017

Early in the morning I often work out while watching MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, which provides a daily look at what the Washington political class is thinking about. But today, after it became obvious that the program was obsessively fixated on the Jeff Sessions story, I switched to "Fox and Friends". There, hosts Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade promptly illustrated their network's own fixation — on illegal immigration.

The result, aided by some complementary research, was a case study on the fraught and polarized state of the nation's immigration debate.

"Fox and Friends" highlighted the grievances widely held by ordinary Americans whom Democrats have ignored at their own electoral peril. Over the past three decades progressives have progressively — in both senses of the word — turned away from their past opposition to illegal immigration. They now embrace illegal immigrants as full-fledged members of the coalition of marginalized groups that dominate Democratic politics.

Just before the program went to a commercial, Earhardt touted an upcoming segment. I didn't have the recorder on, so this is not exact, but it's close to what she said: "Democrats will do anything to help illegal immigrants, but what about those who are victims of crimes committed by illegal immigrants?"

After the break, Kilmeade referred to the Democrats' stone-faced reaction to President Trump's reference, in his address to Congress, to crimes committed by illegal immigrants. Kilmeade asked Boston's famously conservative talk-radio host Howie Carr, "Did it surprise you, even though you're from Massachusetts?"

"I couldn't believe it," Carr responded. "When President Trump said he was setting up an office to help out the victims of illegal alien crime ... there were these groans and suppressed hisses. It was probably the most disappointing — and I'm being kind — reaction that the Democrats had to the speech."

Then "Fox and Friends" moved on to the story of Jamiel Shaw, one of Trump's guests in the gallery during Tuesday night's speech. In 2008, as Trump noted, Shaw's son, Jamiel II, was murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member in South Central Los Angeles.

Shaw, who endorsed Trump for president because of his stand against illegal immigration, gave a speech at the Republican convention in Cleveland. Tuesday, after Trump told his story and called him "a very good friend", most of the audience responded with a standing ovation.

But, as this video shows, at about the 44-minute mark, Democrats like Eleanor Holmes Norton and Adam Schiff stood but kept their arms impassively at their sides.

Shaw expressed disappointment with the congressional Democrats' response Tuesday night. "They don't want nothing but division, you know, bickering. ... I mean. Just the way they did that was so disrespectful. But it's bigger than them. So I just, you know, keep on moving, just ignore them, like they do me."

In an illustration of the point Ainsley Earhardt made about Democratic support for illegal immigrants, Holmes Norton's guest on Tuesday night at the Capitol was a young Dreamer, a woman brought illegally to the United States when she was a child. Dreamers are certainly the most sympathetic group of illegal immigrants.

In a press release announcing her invitation of Claudette Monroy, Holmes Norton made this tribute: "In the District of Columbia, we cherish our immigrant residents, who strengthen our communities and enrich our city's diversity. By inviting a D.C. DREAMer, the message to President Trump is that we will not stand for our families being torn apart. Thousands of DREAMers are now terrified by this president's rhetoric and extreme immigration actions. I am grateful Claudette is bravely standing strong and showing that DREAMers are here to stay."