Tomi Lahren's Own Family History Dispels A Common Myth About Immigrants

Coming to the U.S. before being fluent in English is as American as apple pie.

Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren got a history lesson about her own family, and it came with a valuable takeaway.


The conservative commentator has a reputation for inflammatory comments, and last weekend was no exception. During an appearance on Fox News, Lahren tore into undocumented immigrants on Watters' World, echoing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's assertion that undocumented immigrants aren't positive additions to their new communities.

"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," Lahren told host Jesse Watters on Saturday. "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 went on to say that low-skilled immigrants are "not what this country is based on" and "we don't believe in importing poverty." On the contrary, America's first wave of immigration in the mid-1800s was predominantly unskilled workers from Northern Europe and Asia. Every immigration wave since then has contained a large body of less-skilled immigrants, many of whom don't speak English when they first arrive.

To illustrate the point in a way that would hit home, genealogist Jennifer Mendelsohn did some digging into Lahren's background. Mendelsohn has made quite a reputation for herself by sharing the family stories of immigration hardliners with the hashtag #ResistanceGeneology. Lahren's was just another in a series of surprising finds that Mendelsohn has made.

As it turns out, Lahren's great-grandfather had actually been indicted (and acquitted) for forging immigration papers to get his U.S. citizenship. Her grandparents also seemed to violate another criterion of hers: at least two didn't speak English. Her great-grandmother still spoke German after 41 years in America and her great-great-grandmother still spoke no English after 10 years here.

"This is not about playing gotcha," Mendelsohn said on Twitter. "But as long as people like Lahren continue to push a specious agenda that suggests today's immigrants are somehow wholly different from previous ones, I'll keep showing just how alike they really are."

In another appearance on Fox News, Lahren downplayed the viral callout by saying all Mendelsohn did was "prove my family came here legally." 

Mendelsohn, seemingly responding to Lahren's appearance on Fox News, again emphasized she's not trying to criticize Lahren for having non-English speaking ancestors or a great-grandfather who may have committed a crime.

"This is not a 'take down' because I'm showing her ancestors didn't speak English," Mendelsohn tweeted. "Neither did mine. It's a 'take down' of her assertion that this is not what America is 'based on.' Because it's *exactly* what America is based on."

Cover image via Kathy Hutchins /


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