Fox News host Tucker Carlson began his show Tuesday by debating with an illegal immigrant on the issues of immigration reform and Monday’s violent May Day protests — and it went about as well as could be expected.
Speaking with journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, an illegal immigrant from the Philippines, Carlson wanted to know why the American political left so “readily embraces violence.”
But instead of answering the question, Vargas immediately pushed back over Carlson’s word choice.
“I don’t know if we’ve talked to all of those people protesting and asked them if all of them are ‘from the left,’ ” Vargas said using air quotes. “How do you know that? Did you talk to all of those people?”
“Those shouting left-wing slogans are left-wing,” Carlson shot back. “Almost all of the political violence in the past five months has been perpetrated by the left in the name of fighting against fascism.”
“Well first of all, I really take offense to the very simplistic left and right way you’re framing this. It suits your viewers and Fox News, but it doesn’t suit reality,” Vargas replied.
Carlson explained that in the U.S. right now it’s only a subset of the left that uses violence as a means to obtain and advocate their political goals.
“I’m merely saying: Where are people who agree with these folks standing up and saying, ‘You’re not allowed to block traffic. You can’t break things, you can’t set fires’?” Carlson asked. “It’s pretty simple.”
Vargas, however, didn’t answer the question and began to steer the debate toward immigration.
“What I can tell you is that for many of us this issue is, not just political, it’s personal,” Vargas said. “We’re talking about millions of people who are related to undocumented immigrants that you call criminal every day.”
“I, as a person, am not illegal,” he explained.
Carlson explained that when someone says “illegal immigrant,” they’re not deeming the immigrant as a bad person, just simply stating that the immigrant’s status is “in violation of the law.”
He then pressed Vargas over whether or not he believes Americans should have a say in immigration policy, given that people born in the U.S. “see their country changing and becoming really chaotic.”
“Your argument appears to be that they have no right to have a say in who comes here,” Carlson said. “You’re here illegally, and you’re basically saying: ‘I dare you to do something about it.’ ”
Carlson went on to state that he doesn’t believe illegal immigrants should have a say in American immigration policy given their legal status. But Vargas again took issue with Carlson’s words.
“I’m not from Mars,” he said, noting his disagreement with Carlson’s use of the words “illegal” and “alien” to describe illegal immigrants.
Toward the end of the interview, Carlson pressed Vargas for nearly two minutes over how many immigrants the U.S. should allow in each year. But Vargas failed to give Carlson a real answer citing a lack of time.
“I’ll give you eight minutes next time to tell me the number,” Carlson said before ending the interview.