Border Crisis Heats Up Debate Between Conservative Radio Hosts

Thursday, 03 Jul 2014 12:41 PM

By Jennifer G. Hickey

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Talk-show hosts Bill O'Reilly and Laura Ingraham got into a verbal spat on Wednesday about immigration and what should be done with the thousands of Central American immigrants illegally crossing the southern border.

Appearing on O'Reilly's Fox News program, "The O'Reilly Factor," Ingraham suggested the first thing that needs to be done is to "start deporting people, not by the hundreds, not by the dozens, by the thousands."

O'Reilly responded that her solution "would ensure Hillary Clinton's election in 2016 because demographics don't add up," and the deportation policy would make the Republican Party "obsolete."

Framing her solution as a defense of the American worker, Ingraham countered that opening the borders would be the GOP's death knell.

"The Republican Party has done a good job at destroying itself by not standing up for the American worker. They're not standing up for the regular people," she asserted.

Ingraham has been an outspoken critic of efforts by some Republicans, such as Arizona Sen. John McCain, to pass comprehensive immigration legislation.

In a July 1 post on her website, Ingraham argued that while McCain and his Republican colleague, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, argue they are protecting national security by advocating for sending arms to Syrian rebels, they actually weaken it by promoting "open borders, amnesty, and increased mass immigration."

She continued: "The biggest threat to the security of our country and the safety of our people is our open border, our insecure visa system, and the continuation of uncontrolled legal and illegal immigration, which provides the optimal conditions for another 9/11 here on the homeland."

The throw-down between the right-leaning talking heads is a reflection of the sharp divide among conservatives in the Republican Party on the issue of immigration.

A June 26 analysis released by the Pew Research found that business conservatives overwhelmingly see a benefit in enacting some form of immigration reform, while so-called steadfast conservatives are most opposed.

Asked whether immigrants today are a "burden because they take jobs, housing, health care," 73 percent of identified steadfast conservatives agreed, compared with 21 percent of business conservatives.

On June 30 President Barack Obama declared his intention to use his "executive authority" and "administrative action" to enact immigration reform.

"If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours," he said, adding that the "failure of House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, is bad for our economy, is bad for our future."

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