Fear of illegal immigrants is pushed through misinformation and selective storytelling, rather than real cases and circumstances.
“Foreigners come to our countries and kill our people,” host of Tucker Carlson Tonight, Tucker Carlson said, “you think our leaders would blame them, but no, they blame us (Grabien.com).”
Carlson’s show has been around since 2016, filling the time slot for Bill O’Reilly after he was fired due to sexual harassment allegations. In his time, he’s proven himself to be more about catering to fear through misinformation and the negative depiction of illegal immigrants than the facts around this complicated topic. Take Carlson’s statement that “the US sentencing Commission says 44% of all federal inmates are non-citizens.”
As a Washington Post article over him pointed out, he failed to mention that the Commission showed that from 2013–2017 there has been a decrease in non-citizens who are federal inmates by 23%. In fact, a 2016 Bureau of Justice statistic showed that the percent of federally incarcerated non-citizens is 8.8%.
There’s also the fact that the danger he highlights in his show is part of the reason some immigrants (106, 147 asylum applications were received last year) come to America.
In an opinion article by USA Today, a contributor recounted the story of a Salvadoran woman whose family had been paying the MS-13 gang $200 a month in “rent” since 2010. When her husband missed a payment he was killed, and when she went to the police for help one of her children was kidnapped. The police told her to leave, that they couldn’t protect her. Another woman protested her Nicaraguan government, then was told by the police that she would be kidnapped, tortured, and killed by the government if she didn’t stop.
According to Immigration Forum, these people aren’t given lawyers, which makes them five times more likely to receive asylum. There are lawyers who do pro bono work, but not everyone receives that. The site also points out that the time it takes to gain asylum is somewhere from six months to several years. These aren’t illegal immigrants looking to hurt anyone, they are looking for help and protection from violent criminals, they aren’t the one’s looking to kill.
People like Tucker Carlson seem to have the idea that those here illegally are plain and simple, criminals. The reality is that a person’s circumstances and reasons for coming here vary, you can’t put them all in the same category. Some people may want to come here legally, but the process may take so long that the person could be dead by the time they gain asylum. Or, they could be too poor to get a lawyer and may not end up getting one through pro bono law work, which significantly lowers their chance of gaining asylum. Then, there are those who have committed violent crimes, or who aren’t in danger and came here illegally.
Illegal immigration isn’t a black and white topic and painting it that way with half-truths ignores a real need for a better immigration system. I’m not saying that crime by illegal immigrants should be ignored, or that Carlson has no right to speak about it. It’s the fact that he ignores how complicated immigration is and prefers inciting fear that they (immigrants) will disrupt our way of life.
Any opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not reflect the stance TheWorker Tribune takes on this issue. TheWorker Tribune seeks to include as many perspectives possible regarding even the most controversial subject matters.