Fox News host Tucker Carlson ran a segment on his show this week discussing a recent piece in National Geographic on how white people feel left behind because of demographic shifts in Hazleton, Pa., a former coal-mining town.
Carlson, who is becoming the network's faithful defender of President Donald Trump's anti-immigration policies, lamented the "bewildering" pace of demographic changes "without any real public debate on the subject."
He conveniently left out the part where the magazine states the town was "slipping into decline until a wave of Latinos arrived."
Carlson began, "In the year 2000, Hazleton's population was 2 percent Hispanic. Just 16 years later, Hazleton is majority Hispanic. That's a lot of change.
"People who grew up in Hazleton found out that they can't communicate with the people who now live there. And that's bewildering for people.
"That's happening all over the country. No nation, no society has ever changed this much this fast.
"Before you start calling anyone bigoted, consider and be honest, how would you feel if that happened in your neighborhood?" he asked his viewers.
"It doesn't matter how nice these immigrants are. They probably are nice; most immigrants are nice. That's not the point. This is more change than human beings are designed to digest.
"This pace of change makes societies volatile, really volatile, just as ours has become volatile."
#ICYMI Check out the segment from tonight about the changing demographics in America pic.twitter.com/eM1VJkN8OG
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) March 20, 2018
According to a 2016 New York Times report, because Trump "has denigrated immigrants repeatedly, at times without distinguishing between legal and illegal immigration," residents opposed to the demographic change in Hazleton clung on to his rhetoric.
"Donald Trump's position on illegal immigration plays a big role in his support not only in Hazleton but in northeast Pennsylvania," said Lou Barletta, a Republican who represents the region in Congress.
Latinos continue to move to Hazleton from larger cities like New York and Paterson, N.J.
Jamie Longazel, now a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, grew up just outside Hazleton, told the Times that the "Hispanic ascendance emerged from seismic economic shifts."
"When the local coal mines began to close in the 1950s, Hazleton residents raised money to build an industrial park that attracted factories to the region," the Times reports. "When the factories began to leave in the 1990s, the city mobilized again.
"Local officials won state permission to create one of Pennsylvania's largest tax-free Keystone Opportunity Zones. A Cargill meat processing and distribution plant arrived in 2001. Other distribution businesses have followed, including an Amazon.com warehouse."
And, "many residents claim that city officials advertised for low-cost immigrant labor on billboards in New York or New Jersey," but Longazel said that claim hasn't been validated. He said the reality is "native-born folks" didn't want the low-paying jobs offered.
"The new jobs don't pay as much as the old jobs did, and the reality is that native-born folks were just not interested," Longazel said.
Who Is Carlson Trying to Influence with His Anti-Immigration Rant?
Not surprisingly, 60 percent of Fox News viewers describe themselves as conservative, compared with 23 percent who say they are moderate and 10 percent who are liberal. The average age of a Fox News viewer last year was 65 and they were predominately white males, according to Nielsen research.
But Carlson is also appealing to younger white, conservatives.
In 2017, for cable programs in the 18-49 demographic, "Tucker Carlson Tonight" earned 355,000 viewers, reports Deadline. It comes second to Sean Hannity's show on Fox, which tied Rachel Maddow's MSNBC program for the year's top spot in the younger demo — 417K viewers.
Carlson, who has been said to mainstream white nationalism, may be appealing to the ilk of Richard Spencer and others who carried Tiki torches at a rally on the University of Virginia campus last year chanting, "You will not replace us."
In January, Carlson interviewed Canadian pundit Mark Steyn, who defended white supremacists.
"The white supremacists are American citizens," Steyn said. "The illegal immigrants are people who shouldn't be here."
Asians Largest Immigrant Group by 2055
Carlson makes reference to "reckless immigration policies" alluding to the belief that undocumented immigrants, especially Spanish-speaking immigrants, are overtaking the country. But the origin of the increase in immigrant populations goes back decades.
As a result of Congress passing the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965, immigrants and their descendants have fueled the U.S. population. The law replaced the national origins quota system with a seven-category preference system emphasizing family reunification and skilled immigrants, which increased immigration from Asia, Africa and Latin America.
According to the Pew Research Center, most immigrants (76 percent) are in the country legally, while a quarter are unauthorized. In 2015, 44 percent were naturalized U.S. citizens.
Carlson emphasized the increase of the Latino population around the country, but the increase in Asian immigrants is about the same. In 2015, 11.6 million immigrants living in the U.S. were from Mexico, accounting for 27 percent of all U.S. immigrants. However, by region of birth, immigrants from South and East Asia combined accounted for 27 percent of all immigrants, a share equal to that of Mexico.
Between 2007 and 2015, the number of Mexican immigrants decreased by more than 1 million. Following the Great Recession, immigration from Latin America slowed, particularly from Mexico.
"By race and ethnicity, more Asian immigrants than Hispanic immigrants have arrived in the U.S. each year since 2010," Pew reports. "Asians are projected to become the largest immigrant group in the U.S. by 2055, surpassing Hispanics."