Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador got into a testy exchange on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” with host David Gregory over the issue of immigration reform and what to do with the thousands of unaccompanied children who have come to the U.S. illegally from Central America.
Before Labrador came on the program, Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson was on the program to discuss the same issues. The appearance prompted the congressman to suggest that “Meet the Press” needs to change its famous slogan.
“I kept thinking [during the Johnson interview] that you need to change your slogan at the beginning of your show,” Labrador stated. “Instead of, ‘If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press,’ it should be ‘If it’s Sunday, it’s another administration official making stuff up on Meet the Press.’ It’s really shameful.”
That didn’t sit well with Gregory, who demanded to know what Johnson had made up during his appearance.
“Look at what he said. He said the number one reason these children are coming to the United States is because of the violence in these Central American countries. The reality is that the violence has existed in these Central American countries for a long period of time,” Labrador responded.
The Republican congressman went on to say if the administration claim is true that they are doing everything they can to stem the flow of migrant children, they would be deporting them immediately — which they are not doing.
“The thing that this administration needs to do is immediately deport these families,” Labrador said. “I know it sounds harsh, I know it sounds difficult, but they are creating a crisis at this that is actually going to harm these children.”
The Idaho congressman went onto cite the numerous dangers that are posed to these children by coming to America illegally — including the high potential for abuse by their smugglers — for why this should be done to deter more children being put in harm’s way by coming to this country through illegal means.
David Gregory shot back with what critics of that idea have to say about immediate deportation.
“But for those who are hearing you and saying ‘But you do sound harsh. As a practical matter, deporting these individuals — many of them children — to get back to Central America may not be realistic, nor is it keeping in what it means to be America,’” Gregory put to Labrador.
“You know Americans are great people. I think they’re willing to deal with the 11 million people if we feel there’s going to be border security,” Labrador replied. But “they feel this administration is doing nothing about border security.”
But Gregory cut off the conservative congressman before he could finish his statement to accuse House Republicans of contributing to the overall immigration crisis in America.
“Let me just stop you for a second congressman,” Gregory interrupted. “The frustration is not just with the administration right. It’s with Congress, it’s with House Republicans who’ve blocked immigration reform that came over from the senate, which you opposed.”
Labrador deflected Gregory’s insinuation that the Senate bill would reform America’s immigration system and stuck to his message of dealing with the pressing problem of illegal unaccompanied children.
“The best, safest message we can send to Central America is, if you want Central American families know that they shouldn’t be bringing their children to the United States, is by sending these children back in a humanitarian way.”