National News

Fox News Pundit Defends Comment on Immigration Centers

Posted June 23, 2018 12:57 a.m. EDT

Rachel Campos-Duffy, a Fox News contributor, drew stinging criticism this week after she favorably compared immigration detention centers to public housing, backing up her thesis by citing the opinions of unnamed African-Americans.

“I spoke to some African-Americans who say, ‘Gosh, the conditions of the detention center are better than some of the projects that I grew up in,'” Campos-Duffy, a conservative commentator, said Thursday night during an appearance on the Fox News Channel talk show “The Ingraham Angle.”

As her comment reverberated across social media Friday, some people questioned whom, exactly, Campos-Duffy had spoken with and pushed back against associating African-Americans with poverty in public housing. Some poked fun at her language, noting that “Black people don’t say ‘gosh.'”

Campos-Duffy defended her comment Friday night in a series of text messages with The New York Times, saying she believed the facilities where immigrant children were being detained were safe and secure.

“The centers are not ideal, but they are safe, supervised, and provide three square meals, instruction and other resources,” she wrote. “Those are indeed better conditions than many poor American children have.”

“As an American mom,” she added, “I have compassion for these kids too.”

Campos-Duffy did not directly address criticism that associating black people with public housing was a stereotype. She said that she based her comment on a recent conversation with one man who is African-American, not multiple African-Americans, as she originally stated.

“I mentioned it because I HAD just spoke to an African American who complained to me about never seeing this level of media attention about Black kids being separated from their parents and that some of the facilities he saw looked nicer and safer than the projects he grew up in,” she wrote.

Online, critics pointed out that all kinds of people live in public housing and that children there are not kept in cages. The New York City Housing Authority, the country’s largest public housing authority, served about 171,000 families in public housing as of Jan. 1, 2015; 45 percent were black, according to data the agency provided on its website.

Campos-Duffy, a former reality TV star who appeared on MTV’s “Real World: San Francisco” in the early 1990s, is now a television personality who offers commentary on everything from politics to parenting. Last year, she was included on Newsmax’s list of the 50 most influential Latino Republicans. She is married to U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis.

During her appearance on “The Ingraham Angle” on Thursday, Campos-Duffy discussed immigration detention centers, including Melania Trump’s visit to the border. Her appearance came just a few days after the show’s host, Laura Ingraham, drew criticism for describing the centers where the children were being held as “essentially summer camps.”

Both Ingraham and Campos-Duffy referred to an article that described a facility for unaccompanied immigrant children as similar to a boarding school. The article, in The San Diego Union-Tribune, reported that the facility had classrooms and a play area with soccer goals, for example.

On Friday, Campos-Duffy wrote that she was not surprised at the reaction to her comment, which she said came from the political left.

"Conservative minorities are accustomed to being attacked for telling the truth,” she said.