Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) had been on Laura Ingraham’s nationally-syndicated radio program to talk about Obamacare and North Carolina politics Thursday, but when the conversation turned to immigration about five minutes into the interview, things got ugly.
Ellmers, under fire on amnesty from calm but insistent questioning from Ingraham, called her host “small minded,” “ignorant,” and claimed to be the author of a ubiquitious immigration talking point, adopting the third person to say “Renee Ellmers thinks for herself.”
The epic bout began when Ingraham brought up Ellmers’ primary challenger Frank Roche and asked why she supports a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. While Ellmers initially denied supporting amnesty, she eventually backed legal status and said “We have to deal with those who are here illegally, who are living in the shadows. That’s what we have to deal with.”
“What you just said is infuriating to my listeners,” Ingraham responded. “I’m speaking for them right now. Your responsibility, I’d imagine, is to your constituents who are legal residents and American citizens, whose lives are slipping away from them right now.”
Ellmers jumped back in to argue that amnesty for illegal aliens would help her constituents because aliens aren’t paying taxes.
“Let’s look at it from a law enforcement perspective alone,” Ellmers continued after a back-and-forth with Ingraham. “If we had a system in place where individuals who are here illegally admit that they have broken the law, pay a penalty, pay a fine, go through a process that would be lengthy–I mean this isn’t something that would happen overnight.”
“Laura, my point there is someone isn’t just going to walk into an office and walk out with earned legal status,” Ellmers added a short time later.
In many instances throughout the heated exchange, Ingraham accused Ellmers of using liberal talking points–and Ellmers responded by insulting Ingraham.
After Ingraham repeatedly called Ellmers labeling the current immigration system “broken” a “liberal line,” Ellmers accused Ingraham of using “union-speak” for saying the importing of foreign workers would take jobs away from Americans.
“That’s conceding that our free market system of wages to workers doesn’t work,” Ingraham said in response to a comment Ellmers made where she cited business interests in her district who pleaded for foreign workers at a recent forum. Ingraham referenced how her mother worked jobs “that y’all say Americans won’t do” to put her through college.
“And I believe that,” Ellmers responded. “That is exactly what we have to protect. But the fact of the matter is we have a system that’s broken. And whether you say that’s a liberal line or not–“
“It is a liberal line,” Ingraham interjected, noting that for the third time in the interview. “It’s repeated by all of your enemies repeatedly.”
At that point, things got nasty. “The line that you’re repeating is union-speak,” Ellmers told Ingraham.
Ingraham quickly corrected Ellmers: “The unions are for amnesty. Let me tell you who’s on your side on this: Unions because they want more members, Chuck Schumer, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Menendez, every liberal in the Senate is on your side.”
Ellmers countered by arguing immigration is complicated. “You’re looking at it as a singular issue,” she said.
The sharpest barbs did not come out until later. In response to Ingraham asking why Republicans were helping Democrats on immigration, Ellmers called Ingraham “small-minded.”
“Why would the Republicans give the Democrats cover?” Ingraham asked. “Is it because of the Chamber of Commerce?”
Ellmers launched another insult at Ingraham in response to that: “No we’re not going to be passing legislation this year. It’s too big of an issue. We’re the party of big ideas. Why would you be small-minded on this?”
“You sound like the party of big business,” Ingraham countered. “The little guy is getting crushed by the Chamber of Commerce of people.”
“It is the little guy that is being hurt by this,” Ellmers replied. “It is not the big guy. The big guy can cost shift and find a way around it. It’s the little guy that we have to make sure. By your position on this, you are supporting de facto amnesty.”
Ingraham interrupted Ellmers then to note that “de facto amnesty” is “another Chuck Schumer line. You realize La Raza wrote that line?”
“You know what? Renee Ellmers thinks for herself,” Ellmers replied.
“Why are you repeating La Raza’s line?” Ingraham asked.
“I have no idea what La Raza–” Ellmers started to respond, before Ingraham interjected another question.
“Where’d you hear that? Did you make it up?” Ingraham further asked.
“That is my line, ma’am,” Ellmers said.
“Oh you wrote it?” Ingraham followed up.
“That is not anyone else’s,” Ellmers responded.
Towards the end of the 10-minute immigration part of the interview, Ellmers dropped yet another insult on Ingraham. She called the radio host “ignorant” when asked if she agreed with the sentiment from her recent immigration forum that American workers are lazy.
“You realize people at that meeting said Americans are lazy,” Ingraham asked. “Do you agree with those people who showed up at your meeting the transcript of which I have read on the show?”
“I stand by North Carolina farmers who say that this is an issue that needs to be reformed,” she said, adding, “I’m not going to take an ignorant position as you have on this issue.”
Ingraham played the Congresswoman’s insult cool. “So it’s ignorant to follow the rule of law, to believe in an orderly process of immigration, and to have sovereignty?” Ingraham asked in response to be called ignorant.
“That is exactly what we need,” Ellmers responded. “This is not an emotional issue. This is an issue of the economy and national defense, purely. You’re the one who was putting in the emotional side of it. You need to have your facts–“
“I have my facts straight, Congresswoman,” Ingraham replied. “I’ve actually been working on this issue for about 10 years. The American people are not with you. La Raza and Chuck Schumer are with you.”