On Friday’s CNN Tonight, conservative CNN contributor Steve Cortes was outnumbered 2-1 as host Don Lemon and frequent guest and Donald Trump critic Rick Wilson lambasted him for supporting President Trump’s plan to declare a national emergency to build a border wall.
Lemon argued that the border situation is no more of an emergency than is gun violence, and repeated an inaccurate and frequent CNN claim that asylum seekers from Central America are not breaking the law by crossing the border without permission.
Wilson declared that President Trump “hates brown people so much” that he was unwilling to approve a DACA extension to gain border wall funding, and then further tore into the President as he added:
This is a President driven by a degree of racial animus that is absolutely evident in all of this. These descriptions of these people are all MS-13 murderers coming across the border. You know, those deadly little six-year-old girls with a Hello Kitty backpack trying to get across the border. Oh, they’re the worst possible terrorists coming to threaten our jobs.
After Cortes and Wilson argued back and forth for a bit, Lemon challenged Cortes by following up: “Do you think that gun violence is a national emergency? Is it problematic or is it a national emergency?”
Cortes responded by arguing that it does not fit the legal definition of a “national emergency” based on the law, leading Lemon to further press: “Is health care a national emergency? Or is it problematic?”
After Cortes argued that past emergencies declared under the law had all involved international threats rather than internal threats, Lemon dismissively laughed at his conservative guest and then replied:
Okay, Steve, I got to go. Just because something is problematic, no one denies that there are issues at the border — it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is an emergency. Just like there are issues with gun violence, there are issues with health care. There are issues with a number of things in our society, but do we classify them as emergencies just because we are not getting our way politically, meaning the government? No.
After Cortes recalled that 1,300 cross the border illegally each day, Lemon countered:
And a lot of them turn themselves in as soon as they get there. That is not illegal. To come here and claim asylum is what they’re supposed to do. That’s what people are supposed to do. If you claim asylum — that doesn’t mean you’re illegal if you come here and claim asylum.
As Cortes jumped in to complain that asylum laws “need to be changed,” Lemon added: “It’s not illegal to claim asylum.” As if anyone had stated that the actual act of claiming asylum is illegal. But what the CNN host was doing was giving cover to those who break the law by crossing the border without pemission by wrongly suggesting that doing so is not illegal as long as one applies for asylum after getting caught.
As Cortes correctly pointed out that 90 percent of asylum applicants from Central America are “not qualified,” and are rejected (which is similar to the Obama administration number of about 80 percent) the segment ended.
What always goes above the heads of analysts like Lemon is that, when the Border Patrol must spend resources putting Central Americans though due process as required by law, even though 90 percent will be rejected in the end anyway, it takes attention from efforts for Border agents to perform other tasks like tracking down drug runners or human smuggling through ports of entry.
Measures that cut down illegal border crossing takes something substantial off their plate so they can shift attention elsewhere.