Tomi Lahren, a 25-year-old conservative pundit who makes frequent appearances on Fox News, appeared on the network Saturday night to claim that allowing immigration by people who do not speak English or possess specific job skills is “not what this country is based on.” But Lahren quickly received a rebuke from a researcher who examined Lahren’s own family tree, which shows that some of her recent ancestors fit the description of immigrants whom Lahren said should not be allowed in the United States.
A native of Rapid City, South Dakota, Lahren has seen her star rise quickly in the conservative media world, hosting her first nationally syndicated political talk show at age 22. As a result, right-wing news outlets have frequently sought out her opinions on a wide range of “hot button” issues.
On Saturday, Lahren appeared on the Fox News program Watters World, telling host Jesse Watters that low-skilled immigrants should not be welcome in the United States.
“You don’t just come into this country with low skills, low education, not understanding the language and come into our country because someone says it makes them feel nice. That’s not what this country is based on,” Lahren told Watters. “We don’t believe in importing poverty.”
Watch Lahren make her controversial comments in the video below.
.@TomiLahren: “You don’t just come into this country with low skills, low education, not understanding the language and come into our country because someone says it makes them feel nice. That’s not what this country is based on.” @WattersWorld pic.twitter.com/Dux0cABHar
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 13, 2018
“These people need to understand that it’s a privilege to be an American and it’s a privilege that you work toward — it’s not a right,” Lahren said on the Fox News program.
But just hours later, genealogist Jennifer Mendelsohn responded, posting public records from the 1930 U.S. census describing three of Lahren’s own great-grandparents. The documents show that in 1930, one of Lahren’s immigrant great-grandmothers had lived in the United States for 41 years and had still failed to learn how to speak English.
“Her second great-grandmother had been here for 10 yrs,” Mendelsohn wrote on her Twitter account. “Spoke no English.”
Lahren also had a great-grandfather, Henry Lahren, whose 1884 baptism was recorded in Minnesota — in the Norwegian language.
Her findings on Sunday were not the first time that Mendelsohn had checked Lahren’s statements about immigration with the Fox pundit’s own family history. In September of 2017, after Lahren had made a comment comparing immigrants unfavorably to “law abiding” U.S. citizens, Mendelsohn found a 1906 document showing that Lahren’s great-great-grandfather had been indicted by a grand jury on a charge of forging his naturalization papers. He was later acquitted at trial, however.
In her Fox News interview Saturday, Lahren was defending similar comments on Friday when in a National Public Radio interview, Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff claimed that may immigrants are uneducated and do not “easily assimilate.”
“They’re also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society,” Kelly said. “They’re overwhelmingly rural people in the countries they come from — fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm. They don’t speak English. Obviously that’s a big thing. They don’t speak English. They don’t integrate well. They don’t have skills.”
But records show that Kelly is the great-grandson of Irish and Italian immigrants and that one great-grandfather was a day laborer in 1900 and did not speak English despite having lived in the United States for 18 years. A step-great-grandmother still had not learned to speak English 37 years after immigrating from Italy.