“If you don’t like what America is: You leave.”
Fox News host Laura Ingraham defended Thursday her recent controversial comments on legal and illegal immigration, pushing back against criticism of racism and rejecting the endorsements of white supremacists.
Ingraham faced widespread criticism for comments she made on “The Ingraham Angle” Wednesday, where she had argued that the “America that we know and love doesn’t exist anymore” because of “demographic changes” caused by both illegal and legal immigration across the country.
In an impassioned rebuke, CNN host Chris Cuomo, himself the son of immigrants, described Ingraham’s comments as antithetical to American ideals.
“To turn a phrase on our ‘us-vs-them friends,” Cuomo said, addressing Ingraham, “if you don’t like what America is: You leave.”
Conversely, Ingraham’s monologue received glowing praise from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. “One of the most important (truthful) monologues in the history of [mainstream media],” he tweeted on Thursday, sharing Ingraham’s video.
Responding to critics, Ingraham started her show Thursday night by rejecting Duke’s endorsement, though she did not call him by name.
To Duke and other white supremacists, she said: “A message to those who are distorting my views, including all white nationalists and especially one racist freak whose name I will not even mention. You do not have my support. You don’t represent my views and you are antithetical to the beliefs I hold dear.”
But Ingraham did not walk back her statements, arguing that she made it “explicitly clear” that her comments “had nothing to do with race.”
She said: “The purpose of last night’s angle was to point out that the rule of law, meaning secure borders, is something that used to bind our country together, and despite what some may be contending, I made explicitly clear that my commentary had nothing to do with race or ethnicity, but rather a shared goal of keeping America safe and her citizens safe and prosperous.”
Making the case for “merit-based immigration,” Ingraham said that it “does wonders for a country’s economy, our way of life, and how we define our country.”
The host finished her monologue by reaffirming her sympathy for the “families that have suffered the tragic results of illegal immigration, the children put in dangerous and unfair situations at the border, and all those border agents around the country who work to keep our country safe.”
At no point did Ingraham address — or take back — the real reason she had been so stridently criticized: Her matter-of-fact lumping together of legal and illegal immigration.