Ken Cuccinelli, the acting Director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services office, went toe-to-toe with CNN host Alisyn Camerota on Friday, pushing back against the network's liberal talking points. The topic was the Trump administration's revision of the so-called Flores Agreement, which required border-crossing families with children to be released from custody after 20 days. Under the new rule, such families can be detained until their immigration status is resolved.
Under the old rule, people with unfounded asylum claims would flood the border, knowing they'd soon be released, never to be seen again. The new rule will discourage such fraudulent entries, and also protect the children being trafficked, being used as a ticket to get people into the country.
When Cuccinelli made the point about protecting children, Camerota let out a loud sigh, then rolled footage of allegedly overcrowded conditions in which children would be kept. CNN arranged it so that Cuccinelli could not see the footage, and when he tried to make his point, Camerota attempted to cut him off. That prompted Cuccinelli to say:
"I know you don't want real answers; I know you don't want truth. You want your narrative to go, but I'm not going to sit back and take that."
Snapped Camerota: "I want to to be able to get a question out." When Camerota called the facilities "cages," Cuccinelli responded:
"We don't use cages. We use the facilities built in the 1990s and with the last administration. So if you want to characterize it that way, everyone watching should know you're pushing a narrative, not analyzing the situation."
As seen in the video, the contentiousness continued throughout the interview. Can anyone doubt that, as Cuccinelli said, Camerota was clearly pushing a [liberal] narrative?
Here's the transcript.
7:24 am EDT
ALISYN CAMEROTA: A new Trump Administration rule would allow the administration to keep migrant families, including children, detained indefinitely at the border. It would replace this long-standing Supreme Court settlement that limits how long children could remain in custody. The rule up till now had been 20 days.
. . .
KEN CUCCINELLI: The problem was the inability to hold families — detain families more than 20 days. And now we can hold them until their whole court situation is resolved.
CAMEROTA: Yeah. But that could be years!
CUCCINELLI: And historically, that took about 50 days.
CAMEROTA: Right, okay, but nowadays, it could take years.
CUCCINELLI: That isn't how it — that is not how it worked when this was being conducted.
CAMEROTA: Understood. I’m just saying the problem now that we’ve been confronting —
CUCCINELLI: One of the dangers that's been going on is that 30% of the children in the pilot programs we are finding were being recycled. They were being trafficked. This became a ticket, to bring children became a ticket to get into the United States, because you had to be released within 20 days. This protects children.
CAMEROTA: [sighs loudly, shakes head] I mean, okay. On one level it protects children, but it also exposes children to the overcrowding. I mean, here’s some of the B roll, we’ve been playing it for months. We've been seeing this for months. Lawmakers have been going to the border for months —
CUCCINELLI: I assume —
CAMEROTA: Hold on one second. Hold on one second. Here it is, as you can see [in fact, Cuccinelli could not see. CNN had not provided a monitor for him.]
CUCCINELLI: Yeah, I know you don't want real answers; I know you don't want truth, You want your narrative to go, --
CAMEROTA: Mr. Cuccinelli, I want to be able get a question out --
CUCCINELLI: -- but I'm not going to sit back and take that. I can’t see the pictures you’re showing. I guarantee you they’re border agents.
CAMEROTA: Those are border agents in these cages here?
CUCCINELLI: Are the pictures of the Border Patrol — are those Border Patrol facilities? I can't see them.
CAMEROTA: Yes, these are Border Patrol facilities with overcrowding and not enough room for people inside these cages. And now children will be held there indefinitely.
CUCCINELLI: So, we don't use cages. We use the facilities built in the 1990s and with the last administration. So if you want to characterize it that way, just everyone watching should know you're pushing a narrative, not analyzing the situation.
CAMEROTA: Well, you’re calling it a different word, Mr. Cuccinelli.
. . .
CUCCINELLI: The time in custody for children is down to about one day in those facilities, and then they go --
CAMEROTA: But just help me understand this. Hold on, Mr. Cuccinelli. I just want to take it — point by point.
. . .
CUCCINELLI: This solves the problem by demonstrating to families that are considering coming to the southern border illegally, that they will be detained for the duration until their hearings can be held. It's critical to the solution --
CAMEROTA: -- I see. So it’s — I want to make it clear, this is a deterrent.
CUCCINELLI: Can I please finish answering the question?
CAMEROTA: I think that you did answer the question . . . You’re hoping that the pictures of children, with their families, being detained indefinitely will trickle back to Guatemala and El Salvador and send the message that whatever violence or poverty they’re dealing with there is not worth their children being held indefinitely inside those fences.
. . .
CAMEROTA: There was actually a solution. If we’re talking about solutions, there was one thing that worked, and it was this pilot program started by the Obama administration, whereby when families would come to the border and request asylum, they would be assigned a case manager. And that case manager would check in with them -- it's sort of like parole, and check on them. And it had 100% — it had a 99% success rate of the families being tracked and showing up when they were supposed to for meetings. It had 100% success rate of the families making their court dates. That was done away with it by the Trump Administration in 2017. Why not go back to that?
. . .
CUCCINELLI: So we’re literally swamped trying to deal with the short-term challenges.
CAMEROTA: I understand. But would you consider reinstating that?
CUCCINELLI: Doing case management is not something we have personnel for.
CAMEROTA: [snidely] Because you ended the program.
CUCCINELLI: We do not have the manpower right now to — we’re barely keeping the asylum backlog from going up.