Tucker Carlson Debated Immigration. It Wasn't Crazy, Racist, Or Dumb.

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“We kind of agreed a lot.”

screenshot from youtube

On Wednesday, I left lies, pomposity, smugness, and groupthink at the door and joined Tucker Carlson in his brand new studio at the Fox News Channel’s Washington D,C. bureau on Capitol Hill. Our topic on his show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, was immigration...per my challenge here:

Tucker accepted my challenge and we had a gentlemen’s exchange on the issue. Some #MAGA viewers on Twitter were surprised that a primetime debate on immigration could also be an honest, respectful conversation.

Many more folks on the left who saw the segment were astonished that on the subject of immigration, Tucker is not crazy, racist, or dumb. Here’s the full debate here from The Liberty Hound on YouTube.

“We kind of agreed a lot.”

Turns out, we agreed a lot, which Tucker acknowledged.

  • We agreed that folks who are skeptical about immigrants are not inherently racist and that the assumption that they are is counterproductive.
  • We agreed that all of the well-educated rich people we know are for immigration reform but do little about it.
  • We agreed that Republicans and Democrats alike have been cowards when it comes to making the changes we need to the immigration system.

...among other points of agreement. After the debate, some questions remained unanswered, like Tucker’s first question which opened the segment:

What should be the appropriate level of immigration to the U.S.?

Tucker has been asking this question for a long time. As he acknowledged to me on Wednesday, no one really knows the answer to this important question. One thing is certain though: there is no clear answer that can’t be eviscerated.

In fact, no one really quite agrees on what the level of immigration should be or how it should be determined. The left says the level of immigrants should be higher. The right says the level of immigrants should be lower. As both views qualify as Groupthink, neither really has a place on Tucker Carlson Tonight.

A more-centrist position on this issue (like mine) is to argue that the amount of immigration we should have in America should be the amount the market will bear while giving the American worker already in the U.S. a slight advantage over folks seeking to come to the U.S. to work.

Idea: The Mythical “H2C” Visa

This brings us to the H2C visa category which I’ve been obsessed with since I blogged about it back in 2010. The H2C visa doesn’t exist yet, but should. Without H2C (or some other market-based visa pilot like it), the argument that folks who come here illegally should go back and “line up legally” fails.

The problem, as I told Tucker’s Fox News colleague Martha MacCallum and angel mom Laura Wilkerson, is that there is no place for a lot of these folks to line up. From my HuffPost blog of seven years ago...

Immigrants eager to apply for employment-based green cards often find themselves in a Catch 22. There is typically a wait of three to five years for an employment-based green card for a worker with a college degree or two years of experience. But the worker must remain in status or leave the country during that waiting period and, unless he/she has an H-1B visa or qualifies under Section 245(i) of the INA, usually cannot continue to work for the employer in the U.S. and still get a green card at the end of the wait. Most employers don’t want to sponsor someone who can’t work for them for the next three to five years. This means that many immigrants who are qualified to work in the U.S. and have an employer willing to sponsor them still find themselves unable to work lawfully.

In other words, to get an H2C Visa via the 2010 model, an employer would need to prove they’re willing to pay a premium wage for an immigrant worker, plus perhaps a filing fee for the visa. The economic premise here is that the if the market is willing to pay more for an immigrant worker, the market must need that immigrant worker because they couldn’t otherwise find said labor in the domestic labor market.

Last year, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) took up the H2C mantle to the tune of an “somewhere around 65,000 & 85,000 [visas] every year to coordinate financial interest.” This would, of course, add to the 1.6 million legal immigrants Tucker mentioned that the U.S. brings into the country every year.

Last thing before moving on to the challenges of undocumented immigration (which Tucker was less-willing to discuss), here’s a great Planet Money episode for all you grad students out there looking to wonk out and feel good about the many ways to answer Tucker’s question about appropriate levels of immigration flows:

Does Tucker Support Permanent Relief For Dreamers?

In our gentleman’s debate, I brought Dreamers up. Tucker didn’t seem to want to go there. Now that Senator Lindsay Graham is re-introducing the Dream Act as a counterweight to the $1.6 billion in border wall funding bill going through the House Appropriations Committee, I want to know where Tucker lines up on this one. Does he side with President Trump? Or is his position more-nativist than that?

More Generally, Does Tucker Support Alternative Punishments to Deportation For Folks Here Illegally?

I brought it up. When pressed, Tucker did not deny that he believes deportation is the only punishment for those here illegally. He didn’t entirely confirm it either. If Tucker believes all undocumented folks should be deported, that’s a big deal. Not only is he one of the nation’s top political influencers (his 4 million viewers per night is staggering), but it puts him squarely at odds with President Trump who has called for smarter, more-compassionate enforcement when it comes to Dreamers, in particular. Frankly, I’m convinced Tucker has the influence to sink the Dream Act, if it’s not up to snuff, so this is a conversation we should continue.


Like the “barrel of odds and ends” in Huckleberry Finn, the trick with a melting pot is that new ingredients change the flavor of the stew -- for the better. If you don't believe America can grow and prosper at the same time, you don't believe in the great American experiment. Moreover, if you don't think America can figure out what to do with talented manpower, willing to work, sacrifice and die for the country, you're selling America short.Tucker doesn’t seem opposed to the idea that America can grow and prosper at the same time, but seems to seek limits. What’s concerning isn’t what Tucker says about legal immigration but how adamant he is to avoid the discussion of what to do with folks here illegally. That’s where I hope the conversation can go from here.

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