Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Friday maligned Rep. Ilhan Omar, the first Somali refugee elected to Congress, as “a symbol of America’s failed immigration system if there ever was one.”
Mr. Carlson made the comment on his prime-time cable program after Ms. Omar, Minnesota Democrat, recently called for dismantling the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and halting deportations.
“Someone who hates this country – coming here at public expense – spent yesterday demanding the abolition of ICE, the decriminalization of illegal immigration itself and an end to all deportation programs,” Mr. Carlson said about the congresswoman.
“She demands open borders, the unlimited arrival of anyone who wants to come to America whether they have anything to contribute or not and by the way you get to pay for it. And if you don’t want to, you’re a bigot,” Mr. Carlson continued. “Well you know what this is really about, of course. It’s not about civil rights. That’s a joke. It’s about money and power. Their money, their power.”
Ms. Omar, 37, fled Somalia as a child during a civil war that ravaged the east African country in the early 1990s. She subsequently spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before emigrating to the U.S. more than 20 years ago and ultimately received citizenship in 2000. She was elected to Congress in November 2018, making her the first ever Somali refugee to win a seat in the House in addition to one of the first two Muslim women ever elected.
A spokesperson for Ms. Omar did not immediately return a request for comment over the weekend.
Critics of Mr. Carlson have regularly accused him of using his Fox News program to speak disparagingly of immigrants, and dozens of sponsors pulled their support from his show earlier this year after he claimed they make America “poorer and dirtier.”
More recently, President Trump proposed an immigration plan this week that would replace the nation’s current policies with a point-based system opposed by Democrats including Ms. Omar.
“Trump’s immigration plan would have a devastating effect on millions around the world who, like me, have dreams of coming to this land of opportunity,” she said Thursday. “Our nation should be a beacon of hope to the world. We should be welcoming immigrants, not treating them like criminals.”
Mr. Carlson, 50, previously accused Ms. Omar as being unappreciative of receiving U.S. citizenship.
“Rather than being grateful for that, she’s spent the rest of her life attacking this country,” he said in April.
Several estimates put the number of Somalis killed or displaced during the civil war at well more than a million.