Jimmy Kimmel has been criticised for a joke about reporting talk show host to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The comedian, 52, made the controversial dig after fellow late night host Oliver, 43, scooped the Emmy for Outstanding Variety Talk Series for the fifth consecutive year, beating Kimmel’s eponymous show.
After British star Oliver accepted his award over a video link, Kimmel, who hosted the virtual Emmys in an empty auditorium at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, jokingly suggested that he would report his rival to immigration services.
“Congratulations again to John Oliver, I will be reporting him to ICE,” he said.
The remark sparked backlash on social media, as ceremony viewers called out Kimmel for making light of deportations, with some sharing their families’ experiences with ICE.
His comment was described as “tone deaf” and “insensitive,” coming amid allegations from a whistleblower that detainees at an immigration detention facility were given improper hysterectomies and other gynaecological procedures.
Some Twitter users said that his remark was indicative of white privilege, while others suggested that the joke was in particularly poor taste given the lack of Latinx representation or nominations at the awards ceremony.
“The amount of white privilege it took for Jimmy Kimmel to get up on stage at a nationally televised event and make a joke about ICE and have not one tell him that that isn’t okay, is absolutely astonishing to me,” one social media user wrote.
Another added: “My biggest fear as a kid was seeing my parents get deported by ICE. This joke was hurtful and tone deaf, @jimmykimmel.”