On his show Monday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson sparred with a professor who recently declared that Americans who are concerned about immigration are “ignorant."
Ilya Somin, a professor at the Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University, wrote in the Washington Post on April 6 that Americans wouldn't be so concerned or opposed to immigration if they weren’t ignorant “of the facts."
Increased knowledge would likely make much of the population more favorable to immigration than they themselves otherwise would be.
Many anti-immigration attitudes are driven by misinformation about the numbers of immigrants, their supposed propensity to go on welfare, their political views, their impact on the crime rate, and other factors.
Carlson said his complaint with Somin — who is an advocate for open borders — is that he called any person who disagreed with him "ignorant."
“That didn’t strike me as fair,” Carlson said.
But Somin doubled down.
“That’s true of many people … a lot of opposition to immigration, not all, but a lot, is due to ignorance,” he said, citing survey data.
Over the next several minutes, the two men battled over the facts surrounding immigration, such as whether or not immigrants use welfare at a higher rate than the average American, the political views of immigrants and other data points.
“California has 12 percent of the nation’s population but 33 percent of federal welfare recipients,” Carlson argued. “That’s because of immigration."
Somin disagreed, citing Texas as another state with a large immigration population that doesn’t have a bloated welfare system like California.
Carlson also argued that immigrants “overwhelmingly” vote for liberals and Democrats, effectively making states like California a “one-party” state. Somin disagreed and again cited Texas as a contrary example.
“I don’t know anybody who thinks that Texas will be a Republican state in 10 years,” Carlson shot back. “Massive demographic changes have global consequences, why don’t you concede that?
“Here’s my point: I’m not saying immigrants are bad. … I’m merely saying the idea that people who live here and were born here have no right to have a say in this or to be offended by the changes brought by immigration is just silly or are dumb, which is what you’re saying,” Carlson explained.
Somin said that ignorance doesn’t just affect Americans’ perception of immigration, but of all public policy issues, because they don’t have the time to pay attention or deeply research policy issues.
“It’s easy for them not to know very much,” he claimed.
But Carlson said Somin was missing his point. Carlson argued that Americans have plenty of “data” to base their viewpoints on because they are deeply effected by immigration every day and are able to see the changes happening in their communities.
“Why call them names?” Carlson asked. “Why not acknowledge their views as legitimate?"
“People can have views that are legitimate, but yet still heavily influenced by ignorance,” Somin said.
Watch the full exchange below:
Editor's note: This story originally claimed that Somin is a "liberal." He has reached out to clarify that he is, in fact, a libertarian and not a liberal.