On Friday's New Day, CNN host John Berman and Alabama Republican Congressman Mo Brooks got into a heated debate over whether President Donald Trump should build a border wall as Brooks called out the liberal news network's "propaganda" in trying to downplay the amount of crime committed by illegal immigrants.
At 8:35 a.m. Eastern, as the two debated whether it would be appropriate and legal for President Trump to declare a national emergency to use special funding to build the wall, Congressman Brooks argued that, similar to the deaths of thousands in the 9/11 attacks justifying the use of emergency power, so could the deaths of thousands each year from both homicides and drug overdoses linked to illegal immigration justify emergency actions.
Berman jumped in to use the often-cited CATO Institute study which claims to prove that illegal immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than American citizens, leading Brooks to dispute the study's accuracy and label CNN's use of it as "propaganda." After noting that most heroin is allegedly smuggled through legal ports of entry, Berman brought up the crime study: "You said that there are those people who have died at the hands of undocumented immigrants."
He displayed a chart from CATO and added that "The crime rate among undocumented immigrants is actually less," as Brooks jumped in to complain: "That's false. I have looked at those studies, and if you want to use that propaganda, then you go ahead and use it. But I have looked at those studies, and each and every one of them is flawed."
NewsBusters has previously argued that the study is flawed in part because it does not distinguish between visa overstays by those who received criminal background checks before entering the U.S., and those who sneaked across the border thereby avoiding background checks altogether.
Berman countered: "You say 'flawed,' but other people, but people often lean on note that crime among undocumented immigrants is less than native-born citizens. I will ask you this: If there is a high murder rate among native-born citizens, is that a national emergency?"
After Brooks argued that thousands of American lives could be saved each year by tightening up border security, Berman again brought up reports that most illegal drugs enter through legal ports of entry as he responded: "Again, we're talking about drugs. The vast majority comes in at ports of entry -- not between the ports of entry, not anywhere that a wall would be."
It did not occur to Berman the argument that, if border security is made more effective with a wall, Border Patrol agents could be reassigned to more aggressively police the ports and find illegal drugs.