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tv   Washington Journal David Bier  CSPAN  March 16, 2021 1:20am-1:59am EDT

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operations. >> wednesday morning, homeland security secretary testifies to a house committee for the first time since being confirmed. he would discuss the agency's mission and operations. watch live 9:30 on c-span3, online at, or listen on the free c-span radio app. >> thursday, national institutes of allergy and infectious diseases director dr. anthony found he, and cdc director testify with other federal officials on the covid-19 response. watch live at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span3, online at, or listen live at the c-span radio app. continues. host: david bier of the cato policy institute joins us to dig into the conflict at the u.s.-mexico border.
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right now, it is children showing up at the border that is drawing the most attention. bring us up to speed on what is driving that. guest: there's several factors at play here. you really have to start and back in the home country and say, why are these people arriving at the border the way that they are? the main reason is that it is almost impossible for central americans to receive visas to travel legally to the united states, particularly when you are talking about families relocating permanently to come here. that is the main reason why they are just showing up at the border. when they arrive at the border, they are not allowed to legally cross at legal ports of entry. the border patrol, the customs and border protection agents there, block their entry, so naturally what ends up happening is we have migration happening
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in an illegal manner. that is where all of this ultimately comes from. you have people crossing around those ports of entry, they end up in the custody of border patrol, and that is really where the problem starts, particularly when you are talking about kids, especially young kids who end up in what really are makeshift jails. these are not suited for children. these are kids, sometimes they are trafficked, sometimes traveling with a relative. they don't know what is happening, and they are being essentially imprisoned by the border patrol in these makeshift jails, and last week there were almost 4000 kids on any given day in this type of setting. many of them had been there for up to a week, five days on
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average. they don't have soap, they don't have showers. i would describe it as inhumane, the situation we are dealing with. the administration its -- the administration is trying to speed up the processing of these kids, but so far they have not addressed a lot of the underlying factors for my kids are showing up without their parents without a guardian to take care of them. really, i would say there are two main factors driving the unaccompanied child flow. the first is that for most families crossing the border, they are immediately sent back into mexico. so you cross the border, you are looking to apply for asylum, you
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are trying to evade detection. you're just trying to present to a border patrol agent. those agents are immediately expelling those families into mexico, and really, what they are facing in mexico is homelessness, destitution, no jobs, high crime rate. we have more than 1500 documented cases of crimes against migrants, including murders and kidnappings. that is not a place for a child either, and many of these parents are saying i would rather send my kid across the border to the border patrol, where hopefully at least he will be safe, than be stuck in mexico. so the policy is sending the families back into mexico, which is driving a lot of the flow of unaccompanied kids traveling without their parents. host: so explain to viewers who remember in those early days of the biden adminstration the executive orders, the effort to
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do away with the remaining mexico policy, along with executive orders about the building of new border wall, but specifically, what is going on with the remain in mexico policy? isn't that pulled back at this point? guest: they have essentially replaced remaining mexico with what they described as white in mexico. it is essentially the same policy, except in this case, unlike the trump administration, the migrants who are sent back do not receive a court date. they do not receive any kind of asylum process that they are waiting for in mexico. so really, this policy which also started under the trump administration is actually worse for the migrants than the official remain in mexico policy. they are still sending migrant families back. they are mainly sending single adults back, adults traveling
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without their children. there is a second policy that is also driving the number of unaccompanied kids, and that is if you cross with a child who is not your own, so you are an on tour and uncle or a grandparent traveling with your grandchild, your niece or nephew, they will separate you, remove the child and place him in a shelter or foster care, and send that adult relative back to mexico under this expulsion policy, this weight in mexico policy. i don't know what they are waiting for, but that is how it was described, and that is what we are going to describe it as. but that policy as well of separating adult relatives from nieces and nephews, the associated press described a case this week of a four-year-old being separated from an aunt. that aunt was sent back to
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mexico, and the child was still in jail when the reporters spoke to her. that is a really tragic case. it doesn't need to happen. joe biden against family separation, but this is still happening in a very serious way, and it is traumatizing kids like this four-year-old who had no idea what was going on. she's jailed with other much older kids, a very precarious situation, and not a safe one. we can do better, and i think these two policies are driving a lot of that unaccompanied child flow. host: and reports over the weekend that the government is directing fema to head to the border to provide support their. we are talking about what is happening at the u.s.-mexico border with david bier, policy analyst at the cato institute. phone lines are as usual.
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democrats, (202) 748-8000. republicans, (202) 748-8001. independents, (202) 748-8002. go ahead and start calling in. plenty of discussion about the border on the sunday shows yesterday. we want to start with senator bill cassidy, republican of louisiana, saying the biden adminstration is was possible for the crisis happening right now. [video clip] >> you can't help but notice that the administration changes, and there is a surge. i saw one of his advisors said in spanish -- which means the border is not closed. in english, he said he misspoke, it is. i can tell you, the spanish version is being heard, not the english. that is being reported in national newspapers as well. when people think they can get in, they begin sending their unaccompanied child on a train ride across mexico, where she may be kidnapped and trafficked
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on the hope that they are going to be waived through at the border. this policy is leading to this surge. that is unmistakable. host: republican senator bill cassidy yesterday. and then some response on fox news news yesterday from democratic senator chris murphy. [video clip] >> it is bad. it is getting worse, as we just reported. fema is going to go down there to try to help manage the problem, and we are not even in the peak migration period of april and may. >> listen, this is a challenge, but the point i am making is that you had an 11 year high of presentations at the border in the middle of the trump presidency, so this idea that -- >> i know, and then it went down after that, sir. >> and it has started to come back up again. >> but it is more than double what it was a year ago. >> the point being that the evidence suggests that it isn't the policies of the u.s.
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administration that drives migration to the united states. it is the desperation of the circumstances these people are living under. let's follow joe biden's advice and start putting some money into helping quell the reasons for migration. that's restart the program that allows for kids to apply for asylum in their home country, and places like honduras and guatemala, instead of waiting to get here. there are things we can do to solve for this. but it is not simply be policies of any administration that creates these crises. host: some of the discussion on fox news sunday yesterday. david bier, the politics right now when it comes to the border. guest: if you go back in history, in the 1980's there was chaos along the border. bipartisan agreement about the chaos. 1990's, chaos along the border. to thousand's, chaos along the border. 2010's, chaos along the border. now we are in the 20 20's, and
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there is still chaos. i would say, pick your flavor. what kind of chaos to you like? in 2019, we had to chaos of family separation at the border. we had kids in cages. again, americans didn't support that policy. in 2020 we had the pandemic, and really the big anomaly, there was a huge decline in migration of all types, legal, illegal. people were not traveling much in the summer of 2020. so we had a used depression in the number of people crossing the border, mainly for that reason. but the policy that the trump administration adopted during the pandemic and that the biden adminstration has continued is self-defeating. that policy of immediately expelling anyone who crosses the border back into mexico means that those people then are added to the flow of people coming into the country. so you expel them out, and they
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come back. you expel that new, larger group back into mexico, they come again with a new set of newcomers. that policy is what is driving the numbers higher and higher month after month since it was adopted in march and april of last year. so that policy is really what is inflating these numbers and leading to so many more apprehensions because people keep crossing again and again after they are immediately expelled, and they don't have a chance to apply for asylum here. host: here's the numbers themselves from last month, from customs and border protection. some 100,000 plus persons intercepted on the southwest border, up 28% from the month before. 19,000 family units among them, 9500 unaccompanied children, 72,000 single adults. taking your phone calls as we
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talk to david bier of the cato institute about this surge on the southern border. plenty of colors already. ray has been waiting in colorado, an independent. good morning. caller: thank you for taking my call, and thanks for taking my call last month when immigration was the topic of discussion. i am a registered libertarian, and my general stance on immigration is the statue of liberty, so i am very much in favor of increasing legal immigration to the country. having said that, not all libertarians agree on that stance. it was wondering if you could provide some insight as to why there is such a split among libertarians on the issue. host: and as you do that, could you explain what the cato institute is? guest: the cato institute is a nonprofit think tank located in washington, d.c. we were founded more than 40 years ago.
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we conduct research on a variety of topics for the last four decades, including immigration. our principles and whatever research teaches us is that free markets, and liberty -- free markets, individual liberty, and peace are the passed to success limit -- are the path to success in america. so why is there a divide among libertarians? some people are not fully libertarian, i would say, on all issues. that is not surprising. there's some people who describe themselves as libertarian who disagree with the position on any number of issues. so it is not surprising there is some disagreement on this issue. i would say that ultimately, the belief among most libertarians and people who describe themselves as libertarians is that we should have a were bused legal immigration policy that allows people to travel legally
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and freely and associate with americans, and have americans associate with immigrants as they see fit. host: two j -- to jay, north carolina, good morning. caller: i would like to ask why he is planing trump. this is not trump's fault. even democrats admit that. but you are saying it is trump's fault? like pelosi did over the weekend, or chris murphy did over the weekend. you are trying to spread a narrative, just like russia, just like cavanaugh. host: all right, get your point, jay. guest: well, i thing i explained what is happening. i don't think it is one administrations fault. in fact, i think the biden adminstration as many options to prevent this situation from occurring. i think they can allow people to travel legally from their home countries. i think they can allow them to cross legally. they are not doing these things
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that would prevent this crisis from escalating. in fact, they have maintained much of the trump administration's policies, including the one about expelling most people who cross the border illegally. so i really don't see a big difference between one administration and the next. in fact, even when it comes to unaccompanied kids, the policy of allowing the unaccompanied kids to stay started in november , before the biden adminstration took over. they maintained it. they chose to maintain it. but despite the fact that that is leading to some of this family separation that i described, at the end of the day, i think both administrations have a hand in what is happening today. host: two bills on the house floor this week, the american dream act and the farm workforce
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moderation act. do these address the crisis on the border? guest: only a very modest amount. you are talking about allowing some people who were deported as young children back into the country in order to allow them to apply for a legal status here. that is a good step to prevent some of the migrant children from showing up at the border legally after being removed by the trump administration. that is a good policy and a step forward. on the farm workforce modernization act, that reforms the h2a visa program which is right now only for seasonal workers, for temporary, short-term employment, and allows some year-long employment in agriculture. if you look at the types of jobs that many of these workers are coming to do after they crossed the border, it is exactly this type of employment they are seeking.
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year-round, lesser skilled jobs such as that dairies and other places that need year-round jobs, year-round workers, and can't find any through legal means. so this is going to at least some of the illegal flow -- going to direct some of -- going to direct at least some of the illegal flow into legal status, but it really does not address the bulk of people crossing the border right now. host: fort myers, florida, this is mary. caller: good morning. thank you for taking my call. i hope you give me a little time here because i am making a comparison. i was born into world war ii. i was barely seven when we came to this country. there was a quota system, and you had to have a sponsor in the united states to pay for
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everything. your trip over here, your lodgings, and everything. food, medical, until you were able to stand on your own two feet. and not even the poor jews could come over. they had to go through the same process. so america, this is nothing new. also, as far as children goes, i never had a passport. i had to be on my father's. so if i would have gotten lost, no one would have known whom i belonged to. the other thing is i don't understand why we can't have something similar, a sponsorship . another thing that i think about -- host: well, mary, let's focus on that aspect >> -- on that aspect. guest: absolutely. this is something we have suggested at the cato institute
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that the biden adminstration adopt, a private refugee sponsorship model so that people in the united states can voluntarily choose to sponsor someone who wants to come to this country legally, whether it is from central america or elsewhere. that would be a huge step forward. unfortunately, the biden adminstration has done nothing positive on the refugee program so far. they have not increased the cap, and that is really part of the problem. if there aren't visas, there's not a refugee program, people are going to continue to cross illegally, and that is exactly what we are trying to prevent. a sponsorship model would work great. that is how most immigrants come to this country, either through employer or family sponsorship, primarily family who are immediate family, so your spouse, your parent, your child, or your sibling who can sponsor you. but if it was expanded to allow
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other americans, other relatives to sponsor you, that is a great way to allow more legal immigration and better options for people seeking safety in this country. host: mickey out of l.a., a democrat. good morning. caller: good morning. i've got a couple of questions and comments. one is that when you watch some of the right-wing, right-leaning news organizations, when you listen to them, when you read the publications, they are all touting the fact that there are people getting through since biden has taken office, which is incorrect. they are catching them and sending them back to mexico. the thing is that one of the accomplishments that donald trump kept touting was the wall that he built. what happened to the wall? why isn't that wall that he said he built stopping people from getting through and then being sent back? and the other question is these
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people are coming here for work. the idea has bounced around that issuing work permit visas for people in their country of origin so they can come through legally, work at a farm or somewhere, and after six months or so go back to their homeland. where is that idea? thank you. guest: on the wall, yes, much of the wall was built. there were hundreds of miles of border fencing built. very high structures, 20 foot structures. it really does not affect this flow. people go across on rafts come across the rio grande, where there is no wall, or they walk up to the wall and turn themselves in because they are seeking asylum and they are not trying to sneak into the country. so the border wall really had no effect on migration. it was supposed to be the servant -- the silver bullet. the trumpet adminstration took
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money away from the military in order to build it. they didn't invest as much as they should have in infrastructure along the border. border patrol stations come up laces to house people who cross. these things are at a shortage right now, and that is why you see kids without soap along the border, because the trump administration poured all of its money into enforcement. in fact, there was a government accountability office report about congressional money that was designated for kids in border patrol facilities along the border, and they spent the money on dog food, suvs, and other expenditures for themselves. that is part of the reason why we are at such a humanitarian crisis with kids is there isn't a place to put them, and all of the money went into enforcement. as far as work visas go, that is exactly what we have been talking about. we absolutely need work visas. i also agree that the majority
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of the flow is economic based. we have more than 6 million open jobs in this country right now. many of them are ones that are difficult to fill, and allowing foreign workers to come in and fill those jobs through a legal program would reduce the flow along the border. i would say that seasonal workers are insufficient. seasonal workers are a tiny percentage of the total labor force. we need to allow year-round employment because most of these workers are going to year-round jobs in construction, livestock, places where there is no visa program at all. right now there is a visa program for seasonal farm labor. it is highly regulated, very difficult for farmers to use. but there is that program. almost all of those visas go to mexicans. central americans are essentially shut out of that program. so we need to think of a new
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model for year-round employment work visas for central americans to address this flow of illegal migration to the border. host: dave in orlando with this question. " before we even get to the border wall, why is mexico letting people cross their country to get to the united states?" guest: well, they are not. they are trying to staunch the flow. they've invested a lot in their enforcement over the last few years, but the reality as it is very difficult to police people crossing through their country. they are making an enormous number of arrests. in 2019, they deported more central americans from mexico than the united states deported from this country. and they are a much poorer country then the united states, so the amount that they are investing relative to their national wealth is extraordinary
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. at this point in 2021, their economy has tanked. the amount of joblessness in mexico and the declining tax receipts, i am surprised they are willing to do anything at all about the number of people crossing through their country. what is in it for them is beyond me, other than the fact that they are trying to appease the u.s. administration. host: susan in hampton, virginia, republican. good morning. you are on with david bier of the cato institute. caller: good morning to everyone. when i came into the conversation, you were asking why would a libertarian be against open borders. well, there's a chart put out by fair, and it lists state costs of illegal immigration. american taxpayers spend over
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$84 billion annually to subsidize illegal immigration. i am from virginia, and we spend $1.9 billion, and so on. so if you are interested, that's why. we pay education, medical, food, housing. we have americans that need things. thank you. guest: that certainly is something that people cite for opposition to immigration. i have never heard a libertarian cite the cost of medicaid as a reason why we should enforce drug or alcohol prohibition, or other intrusions into the liberty of americans in their free association rights. so i don't think it is reasonable to say that just because there are some expenditures that happen when people arrive in the united states that that is a reason to deprive them liberty, as well as
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the liberty of americans who want to hire these people. but the other main point is that this report you are citing is incredibly flawed. in fact, the department of homeland security regulatory rulemaking put out official statistics on the noncitizen use rate of welfare, and they found absolutely no difference between that and the nativeborn rate of using welfare. so the idea that they are the ones driving up the budget costs or causing the deficit is just not borne out by these statistics available. host: frank out of idaho this morning,, crack. good morning. caller: good morning, sir. i just have a question which i don't believe you will answer. how are you not a traitor to the american people when you support the invasion of america the foreign illegal trash? host: do you want to take that,
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or we can go onto the next call? guest: certainly i think there is nothing traitorous about wanting to have the immigration policy of our founders, of the history of the united states of welcoming immigrants to this country, and certainly not welcoming them legally to this country, which is what i advocate we do. for these people crossing the border illegally, if there were legal options for them, they would not need to cross illegally which is what i have been saying from the very beginning. this is the founders' policy adopted in the very first act on this subject, was no federal restrictions on immigration whatsoever. obviously through the years, we have developed a policy of restriction quotas and numerical limits and other restrictions to the point where now most people who want to come to this country
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legally have no option to do so. so we need to change legal immigration policy if we want to ultimately address the border. host: on changing that policy, just about five minutes left with you, we talked about the american dream and promise act, the farm workforce modernization act, both expected to get votes on the house floor this week. the larger biden proposal, which goes beyond either of those two, do you expect that to get the bipartisan support it would need , the 60 votes it would need in the senate? is there any appetite for a larger bill like that? guest: absolutely not. i think they have poisoned that well completely by not inviting any republicans to the table. they did zero outreach. they basically treated this as a messaging bill from the start. it is about as non-bipartisan as you can get. so i see no hope of that bill
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becoming law, and that bill doesn't address the temporary worker programs, the work visa options that ultimately are needed to address this illegal flow. that is part of why even moderate republicans who more or less agree with my position about legal immigration aren't supporting it. it does not address labor needs of farms and other seasonal employers, and does not address the needs of construction and other industries that need workers to be hired legally. host: time for one or two more calls. this is barbara in oklahoma, independent. good morning. caller: good morning. i don't know what he thinks these people are going to be doing as far as the farm work goes. being from california, i don't know. i guess he doesn't know that everything just about in farm work now is all mechanized. they have tomato pickers,
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lettuce pickers, potato pickers, onion pickers. they don't need people anymore. host: david bier, do they still need people? guest: absolutely, especially for specialized fruit crops, blueberries, apple pickers. you name it, anything dealing with a fruit has to be handled by hand or it will be destroyed by a machine. they haven't been able to mechanized. ultimately, if you want to move all of this stuff offshore and import all of your blueberries from other countries, that is always an option. i thing it is much better to allow farmers the option to continue producing these types of products in the united states, creating jobs for themselves, their families, and ultimately downstream effect of a higher agricultural production here. host: lydia and waterford, new york -- lydia in waterford new
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york, republican. caller: good morning. host: same to you, lydia. caller: i read an article online by nbc news, march 2, 2021, which talks about how covid positive immigrants have been allowed into grounds bill, texas. it gave the indication that there is catch and release going on. my other comment has to do with a show i saw on full measure that was showing how the wall ab rapidly came to a stop, so the construction stopped. there were all kinds of areas where people could get through. that sounds different then what is being set on this show that mix it sound like the wall was completed and it didn't help. which is completely different than the fact that it was never completed, and the cameras were never put up. anyway, it was a very interesting show. and finally, i wonder why people
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say walls don't work when we have one around the capitol. 9 we will give you -- host: we will give you the final minute or two to take that. guest: on the wall, there certainly were parts that were not completed, but where most of the crossings are happening in the rio grande valley, along the river there, that is not where the border wall was being proposed. obviously there is some border wall there, but even in that place, you can't build a border wall along a river because the river will knock it down when it floods. so ultimately, it has to be pushed away inland, and that allows crossings to happen. at the end of the day, a border wall is not preventing this flow. people are still coming. they are climbing the wall, going through the wall, cutting through the wall. i can point you to numerous places where that has been pointed out even by border patrol agents.
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so the idea that the border wall is the answer, if you want to keep spending this money and diverting it away from resources that are more pressing , like border facilities to house people, like legal ports of entry where we want to facilitate legal travel, you can do that, but ultimately people are still going to try to come to this country, so that is really what the reality about the border wall is. host: quickly, her other question was about covid rates among those crossing into this country and being released. guest: right. the reason why we know what the covid release rate is or the covid positivity rate is for these migrants is because they are being tested before they are released. people who are testing positive are voluntarily quarantining themselves.
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nonprofits are doing the testing of these migrants. you are talking about merely 3/ -- about nearly 3/4 being sent directly back into mexico. a much smaller number are being released. unaccompanied children, a few families with small children. but for the most part, people are being expelled. those who are not are being accepted and released, and even there, the test rate for these migrants is half the rate of what it is for texans as a whole. so the idea that they are the ones driving the covid outbreak or anything like that is just not based in any kind of reality. host: david birt service -- david bier serves as an
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on c-span3 at 10:00 a.m., a house appropriations subcommittee with the role of fema in the federal covid response. at 3:00 p.m., a house armed services hears from the independent review committee about the report on the army's criminal investigation division. on our website at 11:00 a.m., a house armed services subcommittee holds oversight on u.s. military special operations. >> wednesday morning, homeland security secretary testifies


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