Fox News firebrand Bill O’Reilly is famously allergic to political labels and quick to mention his status as a registered independent voter. Fusion’s Jorge Ramos questioned whether he takes a more conservative line on immigration reform and the child migrant crisis in a recent interview.
“It’s your opinion,” O’Reilly responded. “I would say I’m a problem solver. On immigration… I want everyone to be treated fairly, and I don’t oppose a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens in America.”
As the border crisis boiled in July, O’Reilly published an immigration plan featuring border militarization and quick deportations to deter and deflect undocumented immigrants. The plan included U.S. Army and National Guard patrols along the southern border.
“I don’t want the merry-go-round to continue,” O’Reilly said. “Which I don’t think does the country any good. Chaos doesn’t do anyone any good.”
The O’Reilly plan also called for pressure on Mexico, with the threat of boycotts and sanctions, to implement similar military controls on the Guatemalan border that Central American migrants use as a gateway north.
Ramos pointed out the steep challenges of closing off the entire U.S.-Mexico border, particularly when 40 percent of undocumented immigrants have arrived via legitimate visas and then overstayed.
“I’m for a fair immigration law. You cannot have what you have now, which is chaos,” O’Reilly said. He advocated making overstaying a visa a felony offense and utilizing a workers program to track immigrants seeking jobs and ensure they depart when required.
For the undocumented who are already in the U.S., O’Reilly proposes deportation if they don’t register their status and go through an application process for papers. Critics have attacked the logistical barriers that may make such an approach a nonstarter.
Ramos also keyed in on the demands of O’Reilly’s framework, contending that inaction will continue if a baseline plan contains requirements as daunting as full border security domestic imprisonment, deportation, or registration for the 12 million undocumented already in the U.S. He also observed how immoderate these positions might seem to other self-described independent voters.
“That’s a very conservative, right-wing position,” Ramos said.
O’Reilly refused to be spun. “I think that is a responsible position,” he said.