It’s not exactly news that Fox News’s Laura Ingraham is a bigoted asshole with a dangerously massive platform, nor is it news that Ingraham or her show writers rarely seem to grasp this reality. But, in an impressive display of self-owning, her recent diatribe about asylum seekers did manage to stand above the crowd thanks to its sheer idiocy.
On Wednesday night, Ingraham used her airtime to rant about Congress not pushing forward with President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration on the U.S.-Mexico border (a border also shared by the Tohono O’Odham Nation.) Ingraham took issue with the characterization of asylum seekers as victims and not, as she’d prefer to frame it, as brown people infiltrating her country. Continuing her run as Trump’s most effective existing version of a press secretary, Ingraham laid out how, in her mind, the asylum process should work:
OK, now take a look at that statement one more time (emphasis mine):
If someone crosses the border, with rare exception, they should be turned back immediately. Family units, or people posing as family units, would not make this trek once word spread in their home country. Congress should pass this law. If you want to apply for asylum, that’s fine, but you should do so from the safety of your home country, or as is beginning to happen now, once you’re in the United States and you decide to declare, you should be sent to Mexico until your case comes up for hearing.
To make something clear—because it’s clearly necessary—Amnesty International offers a simple explanation of the difference between asylum seekers and refugees:
An asylum seeker is an individual who is seeking international protection. In countries with individualised procedures, an asylum seeker is someone whose claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country in which he or she has submitted it. Not every asylum seeker will ultimately be recognised as a refugee, but every refugee is initially an asylum seeker.
A refugee is a person who has fled their country of origin and is unable or unwilling to return because of a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.
Now, if you are a person that is fleeing your home country to seek asylum elsewhere, chances are you have very good reason to depart said country—this can mean war, poverty, local violence, famine, and dozens of other justifiable reasons. So then, Ingraham’s idea of having these folks simply apply for asylum from “the safety of your home country,” is an obviously untenable option for tens of thousands of asylum seekers.
Not only that, but the idea that these asylum seekers be sent to wait in Mexico is another terrible idea if the end goal is to ultimately help these people find safety and stability. (And no, you should not be under any illusion that Ingraham’s end goal is anything positive.) As detailed by Syracuse University’s TRAC Immigration project, the denial rates for people from Mexican seeking asylum are higher than any other qualifying country, with the denial rate hovering just under 90 percent in 2017. Meanwhile, China, which has the highest number of asylum seekers (2,582 in 2015, per the Department of Homeland Security), has a denial rate of 20 percent.
Given both Ingraham and Trump would prefer this country to be lily white through and through, the prospect of sending asylum seekers to the place with the smallest funnel makes the most sense. And unfortunately, it’s their whims that are being weaponized against people simply seeking a safe haven.