CNN’s Baldwin Pushes CA Congressman for 'Exceptions' for Some Illegals to Stay

On Wednesday, CNN’s Brooke Baldwin interviewed Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and continued the liberal media’s line of blaming House Republicans for the immigration crisis by not taking up the Senate bill passed last year. In addition, Baldwin repeatedly challenged Denham to make exceptions for allowing illegal immigrant children to be granted permission to stay in the United States. [MP3 audio here; Video below]

During the second hour of her CNN Newsroom show, she began by asking what he was hearing from his constituents (more on that later) and then highlighted the fact that House Republicans have not taken up the Senate immigration bill passed during the summer of 2013:

So you've seen with your own eyes the issues at play here that are now really front and center and so in terms of the politics and where you're standing and joining me, you know, it's been more than a year. You know this, since the Senate passed that comprehensive immigration overhaul. It has been held up in the House by your Republican colleagues and I know that you are in this unique position, Congressman, because you are among this handful of House Republicans who want to act on immigration reform this year. 

After playing a clip of House Speaker John Boehner criticizing President Obama’s request for funding along the border, she continued to push Denham: 

but in terms of you being that handful of Republicans, Congressman Denham, how will you convince your colleagues on this issue, and this issue happening this year?

Next, Baldwin attempted to convince Denham to allow some of the thousands of children that have recently come to the United States illegally to be allowed to not be deported:

As many as 80,000 undocumented kids, that’s the number we have, will be crossing illegally this year and as it comes to these little boys and girls, Congressman, do you think they should be able to stay? 

Upon Denham not stating that the president should reach out to the heads of the countries in which children are coming from, he was again challenged by Baldwin to allow some of them to stay:

I hear you loud and clear, with the court system, and a lot of people agree with you, but there are exceptions to that in terms of allowing some of these children to stay over, be it abuse, being parts of gangs, what have you, back home, let's say in their Central American country. I just want to hear from you specifically what kinds of exceptions you would be willing to accept. 

In response, Denham pointed out that there are “very few identification or birth certificates to even identify where they go back to so you can even tell if their story is true, so we've got a lot of work to do” in addressing this problem “internally and within our own country first.”


Finally, throughout the nearly 6-minute-long interview, she repeatedly referred to Denham’s district in California as being “a border district.” Actually, that isn’t quite the case. In fact, it is located just east of San Jose and south of Stockton, which is hundreds of miles from the U.S.-Mexico border (as seen in the image below).

The complete transcript of the segment is transcribed below.

CNN 

CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin

July 9, 2014

3:04 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Developing Story; GOP; No Rush to Approve Obama’s $4B Request]

BROOKE BALDWIN: Joining me from Capitol Hill, Congressman Jeff Denham, a Republican from California. Congressman, welcome. 

CONGRESSMAN JEFF DENHAM (R-CALIFORNIA): Thank you. Thanks for having me again. 

BALDWIN: So, you represent a border district and I know you recently toured your state's border, you saw those guards down there. Can you just tell me what you are seeing yourself with your own two eyes and what you're hearing from your constituents back home about this? 

DENHAM: Well, I've been fighting for immigration reform for quite some time, and I've always said that border security comes first. So, I went down to the border with a bipartisan group. We wanted to see exactly what was happening on other southern border, where in San Diego, we have got some of the most stringent policies. We’ve got two sets of fences. We have cameras, we've got motion detectors. We are detecting tunnels. Border patrol is doing some very good things, but even on that area, we're still seeing families, mothers with children, coming across, asking for asylum. We witnessed it firsthand. 

BALDWIN: Okay. So you've seen with your own eyes the issues at play here that are now really front and center and so in terms of the politics and where you're standing and joining me, you know, it's been more than a year. You know this, since the Senate passed that comprehensive immigration overhaul. It has been held up in the House by your Republican colleagues and I know that you are in this unique position, Congressman, because you are among this handful of House Republicans who want to act on immigration reform this year. Let me just contrast that with what we heard from House Speaker John Boehner on the president's $4 billion proposal. Here he was. 

HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: When you look at the president's request, it's all more about continuing to deal with the problem. We've got to do something about sealing the border and ending this problem so we can begin to move on with a bigger question of immigration reform. 

BALDWIN: I imagine you agree with Speaker Boehner when it comes to securing the border, but in terms of you being that handful of Republicans, Congressman Denham, how will you convince your colleagues on this issue, and this issue happening this year? 

DENHAM: Well, the biggest part of this is actually starting the debate. You know, many of my colleagues looked at this as being a California problem. This is a national problem that the entire nation is really feeling today. 

BALDWIN: But the nation, sir -- forgive me for jumping in. I mean, this debate has been going on for years. 

DENHAM: Decades. Absolutely –

BALDWIN: Yeah.

DENHAM: – this is over a 30-year problem that even when Democrats had control of both houses and the presidency, they decided it wasn't a big enough issue and now this president has said, since 2011, the border is secure. Well, to convince not only Republican colleagues, but to convince the American public, we have to give them the assurances we're going to seal the border once and for all and have a legal and fair system that follows the rule of law. 

BALDWIN: So how exactly do we assure them of that? This is such a nuanced and complicated issue. What is your number-one fix? 

DENHAM: Well, we had a bipartisan bill come out almost a year ago now, the McCaul bill, had bipartisan support. In fact, unanimous support coming out of Homeland Security, but our border is different among all of the different states. In Texas, for example, we're seeing this big surge. 

BALDWIN: Right. 

DENHAM: We've got millions of acres of no fence, no cameras. In fact, border control can't even go into that Department of Interior, Department of Forestry area. So it's a big, complicated issue. We've got a bipartisan bill, we need to get that to the floor and actually see the support. 

BALDWIN: You mentioned, you know, obviously the porous – the porous parts of the border, and we have been talking so much this issue with these children. As many as 80,000 undocumented kids, that’s the number we have, will be crossing illegally this year and as it comes to these little boys and girls, Congressman, do you think they should be able to stay? 

DENHAM: You know, I think that we're going to have to address the court system first. This backlog in the courts is not only creating an unjust system with huge backlogs and long waits, but it's also creating this whole other issue with Border Patrol being able to do their job today. So I think the courts come first, and then we have to assess and deport those to their native countries as we see fit. 

BALDWIN: Are there exceptions, though? With those kids? 

DENHAM: Oh, absolutely. I mean, we're a great nation. There are always going to be exceptions, but we need to deal with those through the court system. 

BALDWIN: Like what? Just putting you on the spot. Like what specifically? 

DENHAM: Well, I mean, certainly this is a humanitarian crisis and we need the president to be actually reaching out to these heads of states to find out exactly what their issues are so we can address them ourselves within our country. 

BALDWIN: You – you represent -- you are in this unique position, representing this, you know, border district here in California so you know, when we're talking about children coming across the border, and I hear you loud and clear, with the court system, and a lot of people agree with you, but there are exceptions to that in terms of allowing some of these children to stay over, be it abuse, being parts of gangs, what have you, back home, let's say in their Central American country. I just want to hear from you specifically what kinds of exceptions you would be willing to accept. 

DENHAM: You know, I've been concerned about the 11.5 million undocumented we have today and part of the concern is right now Border Patrol is telling us they've got a catch and release policy, so many of these kids that are could copying across the border are being sent to different areas in my state, across the country, where they're going to be staying with parents or relatives whether or not they're documented or not. So, we have to address it internally and within our own country first. We have to address this problem at the border. And then we actually have to assess this tens of thousands of kids and really assess what different challenges are they facing. Part of -- you know, what you heard in the Senate hearing was that there is very little documentation. There is very few identification or birth certificates to even identify where they go back to so you can even tell if their story is true, so we've got a lot of work to do ahead of us. 

BALDWIN: Right. You do, Congressman and I really truly appreciate the time you spent with me there. We'll let you get back to work. Congressman Denham, I appreciate it.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is a news analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division