Tucker Carlson (Getty/Roy Rochlin)

Tucker Carlson: I "hate litter, which is one of the reasons I'm so against illegal immigration"

It remains unclear if the Fox News primetime host was equating undocumented migrants themselves to trash


Rachel Leah
August 18, 2018 2:14AM (UTC)

Rounding out a particularly hateful week on his primetime show, the Fox News host Tucker Carlson asserted Wednesday during a discussion of the environmental hazards of balloons, "I actually hate litter, which is one of the reasons I'm so against illegal immigration."

It was a completely irrelevant comment to a conversation about the environment. Carlson had been speaking with author and journalist Cathy Areu about the debate over the threat that helium balloons, which are not biodegradable, could pose to animals and to the planet as a whole. One town in Rhode Island has already banned sales of the product.

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"It takes about 10 to 20 years for them to degrade," Areu told Carlson. "So they actually are just another form of litter – just like plastic straws."

Carlson was not moved. "Let me ask you real quick: Why does nobody? I totally get that, and I actually hate litter, which is one of the reasons I'm so against illegal immigration," he said. "It produces a huge amount of litter – huge amount of litter. And I mean that with total sincerity."

It is unclear whether Carlson was equating undocumented migrants themselves to trash or making an assumption about the litter they produce when they enter the country. The latter seems 0dd, and the former undoubtedly bigoted and hateful.

Wednesday's broadcast of "Tucker Carlson Tonight" also showed the Fox News host, along with the conservative journalist Chadwick Moore, insulting trans politician Christine Hallquist, who won a historic victory in Tuesday's Vermont gubernatorial primary. Moore argued that she only won because of so-called "transgender privilege."

READ MORE: Why is CNN mainstreaming a right-wing radio host who promotes violent, extreme rhetoric?

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Amid Carlson's pointed claims, the Fox News host was mum about the 565 migrant children still waiting to be reunited with their families after being separated at the border. That means that only a fraction of the nearly 600 children who were reported in government custody at the beginning of this month have been connected with their parents.

"In the court filings, lawyers for the U.S. Justice Department reported that a total of 565 children, including 24 who are younger than 5, remain in government-contracted shelters, separated from their parents," HuffPost reported. "More than two weeks earlier, the government had reported that there were 572 migrant children still in custody. That’s only seven more children than reported on Thursday, though lawyers noted that the total numbers on the reports are approximate as data continue to be updated."

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw had ordered President Donald Trump's administration in June to reunite the 2,654 children who were separated at the border under Attorney General Jeff Sessions' "zero-tolerance" immigration policy.

According to HuffPost:

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But when the July 26 deadline approached three weeks ago, there were still more than 700 children who remained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.

The government said the children who remained in custody were not reunified with family because their parents had been deported, had failed a background check or had yet to be located. According to Thursday’s court filings, the parents of 366 detained migrant children were outside the U.S. and have not had the chance to be reunited.

"All of this is the result of the government’s separation and then inability and failure to track and reunite," Sabraw said in a conference call. "And for every parent who is not located there will be a permanently orphaned child, and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration."

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Rachel Leah

Rachel Leah is a culture writer for Salon. You can follow her on Twitter: @rachelkleah.

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