Donald Trump boasted in a recent NBC News interview that Fox News had commended him for starting a conversation about illegal immigration. That conversation is ongoing, if last evening’s Fox News online add-on to Bret Baier’s “Special Report” is any indication.
The Washington Post’s Charles Lane, a regular “Special Report” pundit, faced off against radio host Laura Ingraham over Trump’s June 16 comments, in which he said, among other things: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
Is that worth discussing? No way, argued Lane: “The issue of crime by illegal aliens or legal immigrants is not a real issue…Between the early ’90s and now, when the United States crime rate was going like this, down, the illegal immigration was going like this, up.”
Ingraham lashed back: “Twenty percent of the prisoners in California are illegal immigrants…Is that acceptable to you?” When Lane conceded crimes by immigrants, she jumped in, “Horrible crimes against children, women, murder — he’s right, rape. Horrible crimes.”
Lane stated: “For Donald Trump to go around this country claiming that illegal aliens are a major source of crime in the United States is not true.” He cited pre-Bill de Blasio New York, where for years the foreign-born population — including undocumented immigrants — increased at the same time the crime rate went down.
Some U.S.-Mexico border skirmishes among the panelists ensued. “The hot-button political issue here is Mexico and the Mexican border, okay, and that’s what the kerfuffle is here with Trump. And the truth — numbers do not lie: That is yesterday’s problem.” To which Baier responded, “I think that that’s dangerous to say…If you look nationwide at the numbers coming across the border, it’s different than in those communities along the border that are dealing with these problems day to day and you talk to them and whether it’s anecdotally or not, it’s an issue.”
Donald Trump surely would have been proud to have launched this conversation about whether his comments prompted a worthy conversation.