On Monday, viewers of CNN saw the hosts of New Day continue their championing of the Obama administration on illegal immigration with co-host Chris Cuomo asking for the rule of law to be set aside. Cuomo also mocked Republicans for being obsessed with the IRS scandal and not responding with compassion to the “flood of child humanity.”
Speaking with CNN contributors Kevin Madden (a Republican strategist) and Dan Restrepo (a former adviser to President Obama on Latin American affairs), Cuomo began by wondering: Dan Restrepo, where is the humanity? People want to argue law. They should. They should also remember it was President Bush that signed this victim protection act that makes it difficult to repatriate kids, but let’s put the law aside because where is the humanity in this? How did kids get lost in partisan politics? [MP3 audio here; Video below]
Not to be denied, Cuomo posed his views to Madden and tried to prod from him an “example where you have had a flood of child humanity come into the United States and that be ignored in favor of an argument over how they got here?”
Soon after, without any evidence, he lamented that “none of the lawmakers are going down there” and instead:
[T]hey want to argue about these kids. They haven't even gone down to see them. I think it's just one of the most naked abuses of politics I've seen in terms of saying something’s important, but not even going and dealing with it.
Upon being reminded by Bolduan and Madden that a member of Congress (Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma) actually did try to go and see some of the detained illegal immigrant children and was prevented from doing so by the federal government, Cuomo strangely brought the IRS scandal into the picture. Speaking in a sarcastic tone, he mockingly said that:
You spend weeks subpoenaing emails, on you know, on – what’s going on with the IRS, but you really not going to fight your way into these kids? It’s cause you don’t want to.
Before anyone could respond, he ruled that “we’re going to save that for another day” and changed topics.
Bridenstine was eventually allowed to tour a Health and Human Services-run detention facility on Saturday with Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), but not without heavy restrictions on what they could say about their visit as well as what members of the news media could photograph and report.
For the record, a July 14 Nexis search shows the last time New Day mentioned the scandal was on June 26. With that in mind, the fact that a host of major cable network news show brought up the IRS scandal to only dismiss it so his point can be made on inaction along the border is shameful. Both situations are national problems , but it’s clear that one of these stories isn’t being treated like the other.
The relevant portion of the transcript from the July 14 New Day segment is transcribed below.
CHRIS CUOMO: Dan Restrepo, where is the humanity? People want to argue law. They should. They should also remember it was President Bush that signed this victim protection act that makes it difficult to repatriate kids, but let’s put the law aside because where is the humanity in this? How did kids get lost in partisan politics?
DAN RESTREPO: Well, I mean, immigration politics in Washington are so broken. They’re as broken as the system and I think that’s part of where this is getting lost, but there's also, Chris, humanity here in making sure these kids don't start on this journey in the first place and that's part of managing this. This is an incredibly dangerous journey folks are embarking upon and part of the way you stop that or at least slow this down is the folks that don't are the right to be in the United States, under the 2008 law, that they get sent back home as expeditiously as possible so you get the signal to the system, you get the signal to folks in northern Central America that there isn't an advantage of heading along this perilous journey, so there is humanity all around the debate. Unfortunately, it gets lost here in the immigration politics in Washington.
KATE BOLDUAN: And Dan, on that 2008 law that has become one element of this core issue, there, are a couple of lawmakers coming out now saying that President Obama does not need Congress to move ahead and change this. Mike Rogers of Michigan, Dianne Feinstein, who originally helped write this law. They say he can change regulation. He does not need congressional action to be able to change how children are dealt with within this system. Do you think that's possible?
RESTREPO: It's not clear to me if that's possible and even a regulatory change would take time. I think a legislative change, which the administration is trying to work with Congress on, is probably the fastest way to get to a place where the folks on the ground have more discretion, has more flexibility. The administration and very few people are talking about repealing the law outright. It's how you apply the law and whether you can apply it more on the ground rather than in immigration courts, which are completely overwhelmed. There's two ways to speed the process up and the administration is trying to do both, get more flexibility on the application of the law and inject more resources into an immigration court system that is completely overwhelmed. You need to do both of those things if you're going to be able to, again, reach the dimmer switch. There's no on-off switch on this. You can only change the gradations of this and get it back to a more manageable situation.
CUOMO: We want to talk about what happened with Holder here over the weekend, also, but let me just bang on this one more time with you, Kevin. We all know it's hard to secure the border. Ok, there's nothing new there. This money that's being thrown at it, it is being thrown because we don't have the right fix. It's a question of how much, not whether or not people come here, but can you cite me another example where you have had a flood of child humanity come into the United States and that be ignored in favor of an argument over how they got here?
KEVIN MADDEN: Well, I guess I think probably the most recent example might have been the boat lifts where Cuban immigrants were coming in the early '80s and I think that was a crisis of a different time and of a different nature. Not all these crises are exactly the same, but I think the thing that is really holding this up, again, Chris, is with the president's lack of relationships up on Capitol Hill.
MADDEN: I am, of course, a partisan Republican, but if you listen to a lot of Democrats, they have an extraordinary level of frustration that the president saw that this problem was something that many people tried to warn him about. You had Democrats and Republicans as early as March of 2012 –
BOLDUAN: Yeah, but Kevin, we're also hearing it from governors. I mean, the governors met over the weekend and they're divided largely along partisan lines, but is there a role for governors here or are they going to have to be left dealing with it?
MADDEN: Right, I don't think the concerns that many of those governors have on the border states, I don't think they're partisan. Yes, they're Republican, but many of the concerns they've had are of substance. These are problems they were pointing out to the administration. If you remember, Governor Perry himself as early as May 2012, sent the letter to the administration warning them of this impending problem with folks coming to the border from Central America. The president was late to react. That is not a judgment of just Republicans. Many Democrats including Luis Gutierrez, Henry Cuellar, many of the folks in border state Democrats, said that as well.
CUOMO: Yeah, Kevin, they’re not even going to visit these kids. The president was down there and, you know, that became, what's that nice political word, a kerfuffle, you know, that he went down into Texas and didn't visit these regions. None of the lawmakers are going.
CUOMO: And they want to argue about these kids. They haven't even gone down to see them. I think it's just one of the most naked abuses of politics I've seen in terms of saying something is important, but not even going and dealing with it.
BOLDUAN: Some of them are trying to, and they’re not even being allowed in.
MADDEN: There were reports, that's right. Kate points out, there were reports of a Republican who wanted to go to one of the detention facilities and was barred from DHS employees of actually seeing it. Then, the president was about 240 miles away, and he was should – it would have been important to highlight some of the problems that are down there if he had gone there and seen them for himself, and he chose not to. Instead, he chose to raise money for his political allies.
CUOMO: You spend weeks subpoenaing emails, on you know, on – what’s going on with the IRS, but you’re really not going to fight your way into these kids? It’s cause you don’t want to.
MADDEN: Well –
CUOMO: But we’re going to save that for another day.