While Brian Kilmeade, a host of one of President Trump's favorite cable news shows, "Fox & Friends," was defending the Trump administration's policy of separating at least 2,500 children from parents who allegedly entered the United States illegally, he sought to put concerns about them into perspective. He said:
And these are not — like it or not, these are not our kids. Show them compassion, but it's not like he is doing this to the people of Idaho or Texas. These are people from another country, and now people are saying that they're more important than people in our country who are paying taxes and who have needs as well.
Kilmeade is presenting the kind of false dichotomy to his overwhelmingly conservative viewers that has often been effective with right-leaning Americans on immigration policy issues.
To hear him tell it, opponents of Trump's "zero tolerance" policy want policymakers to choose between helping undocumented immigrants and helping Americans. That's akin to what supporters of "All Lives Matter" — the oft-repeated rebuttal to the "Black Lives Matter" movement — claimed was the sentiment behind that slogan. But Kilmeade's statements suggest there is a tiered system when it comes to worth. Stating that the immigrant youth "aren't our kids" implies that their lives do not matter as much as "our" lives.
Critics of those who invoke "All Lives Matter" say its proponents don't actually believe that all people's lives are equally important, but that some lives matter more than others. In this case, the lives of Americans, such as those who live in places such as Idaho and Texas, seem more valuable to Kilmeade.
Kilmeade garnered a lot of criticism for his comments. It's unclear why he chose those two states, but their characteristics made their evocation more noticeable. Idaho is one of the whitest states in the United States, has one of the lowest foreign-born populations in the country and is also home to multiple hate groups. And Texas is one of the states the Trump administration prioritized over Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria.
Defenders of Kilmeade will note that he said "show them compassion." But he indicated that there is a limit to that compassion and that it should not exceed how our government treats U.S.-born children.
The Trump administration ended the policy of family separations, but the policy continues to affect children already in separate detention facilities. Trump reportedly watches hours of Fox News coverage daily, and his Twitter feed often reflects his devotion to "Fox & Friends." Kilmeade's sentiment gives Trump another talking point when he argues that help for these immigrants comes at the expense of Americans.