On Tuesday's New Day, CNN's Kate Bolduan all but lobbied Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine to support President Obama's multi-billion dollar request to deal with the ongoing illegal immigration crisis: "There's an immediate crisis on the southwest border. The President is going to ask for $2 billion....He says it's emergency funds to help stem...the flow of immigrants coming in. Can you support giving the President these emergency funds?"
Bolduan especially went after the Republican congressman after he slammed the Obama administration's draconian press restrictions for a planned media day at an immigration facility in Oklahoma: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
REP. JIM BRIDENSTINE, (R) OKLAHOMA: ...[T]hey [the Obama administration] said the media can come. It will be a 40-minute tour, but you can't ask questions. You can't talk to the staff. You can't talk to the medical doctors. You can't talk to the children. If – if you would like to take pictures, you can't do that, but we'll send pictures to you. This is the kind of media that they had in the former Soviet Union. This is not the kind of unfettered access that we expect in the United States, especially if the President is going to ask us for $2 billion.
The anchor led into the interview by highlighting how the politician visited a detention facility for newly-arrived illegal immigrations in his home state of Oklahoma and "officials there wouldn't allow him in. They blocked him at the gate." She then turned to her guest and asked, "What did you want to see?" Rep. Bridenstine replied, in part, that "the President is going to ask us for $2 billion. In order to solve the problem, we need to understand the problem. And certainly, before we – before we spend two billion taxpayer dollars, we certainly don't want to exacerbate the problem."
The Republican congressman made his "Soviet Union" attack on the Obama administration's restrictions when Bolduan noted that federal officials invited him back to visit. She then followed up by pointing out that "more details are going to come out today. I know you're going to say, I can't answer this question until I get details, but I really want to give me your gut check here...the money is going to go to more immigration judges, more detention facilities....Can you support giving the President these emergency funds?"
Rep. Bridenstine didn't immediately answer the question, but underlined that the situation in Central America isn't worse than it was several years earlier:
BRIDENSTINE: Before I became a member of Congress, I did counter-illicit trafficking with the United States Navy. I'm a Navy pilot. I spent a lot of time in El Salvador, and I can tell you that the crime now there is bad, as it the poverty. But it's no bad today than it was two years ago or three years ago or four years ago. The difference between today and two or three or four years ago, is that we still have an open border on the south side of the United States. And the President has created this perception down in Central America that if you come, you can stay.
Bolduan then shot back, "Then, what do you want to do with the kids?" The guest replied by keeping up his attack on the Obama administration's handling of the crisis: "We have to do something very quickly to make sure that children are not just released. And these processing facilities have become illegal immigration in-processing facilities, rather than a facilities that actually solve this crisis."
The CNN anchor spent the rest of the segment boosting the liberal talking points on the ongoing controversy:
BOLDUAN: Congressman, that also goes to the point that the White House is going to ask for later this week. They're going to ask for expanded legal authority for the Department of Homeland Security to be able to, in part, expedite the process of deporting these children – because they're dealing with a law that was passed during the Bush administration relating to trafficking that might be hindering this process. Can you support that change?
BRIDENSTINE: Well, again, I'm going to have to read the legislation, but certainly, something has to be done. We need not only border security. We need interior enforcement. And if it looks like interior enforcement is going to solve this crisis, then I could support that.
BOLDUAN: We'll see if you can support that – that would be good to see. I do want to ask you – kind of, by and large, you say that this isn't – essentially, you're saying this is a crisis that the President should have seen coming. The Senate passed a bill. Republicans have not supported that in the House. But a lot of people are pointing the finger, saying, if you're not going to support the Senate bill, that's fine. But if you guys think this is such a problem, then do something.
BRIDENSTINE: So – so you're confusing two very important and distinct issues. One is border security, which is necessary for national sovereignty-
BOLDUAN: I'm not confusing it. I know there's an immediate crisis at the border. I'm talking about, by and large, this has also entered into the larger immigration debate.
BRIDENSTINE: Sure, so – so border security, which is important for national sovereignty and national security, is one – is one element. An entirely separate issue is immigration. We all want to talk about immigration, but our national security and national sovereignty is a separate issue. They need to be dealt with separately. And certainly, we need to start by securing the southern border of the United States.
BOLDUAN: Are you going to push any legislation on that?
BRIDENSTINE: Sure. We've already passed legislation. If you go back to 2006, long before I was here, the House of Representatives passed the Secure Fence Act. It was enacted in parts of the United States very effectively. It cut down, in many places, 90 percent of the illegal immigrants crossing the southern border. Unfortunately, it didn't go far enough, and not only – first of all, it did go far enough. It just was never enforced fully. And interestingly, the – this is a big reason why we have this – this crisis ensuing right now.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, thank you so much for your time. Let us know what you see when you are able to get into that facility on the 12th. We look forward to hearing what you see and what kind of solutions you're pushing for in the future.