PBS Anchor Fights with GOP Rep. Chip Roy on ‘Un-American’ Border Bill

Political News

On Thursday’s PBS NewsHour, co-host Amna Nawaz uncorked a contentious interview with Republican Congressman Chip Roy of Texas, especially on unprecedented illegal immigration and fentanyl pouring across the border under Biden. 

After Congressman Roy recalled that some have inaccurately claimed that his plan would actually end asylum, Nawaz jumped in to contradict him. The PBS host cited the word “un-American” as having been used by a moderate Republican critic of the plan:

Roy tried to correct her as he argued that his proposal would require the same kind of expulsions of illegal aliens that Title 42 already authorizes:

Congressman Roy’s bill would require each inadmissible alien to be denied entry into the country if there is no room to keep them detained until an asylum decision is made. It would not prevent anyone from applying for asylum even if required to remain outside the U.S.

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After Roy mentioned drug smuggling, Nawaz turned argumentative, bizarrely claiming there’s “no evidence” of fentanyl coming over the border between ports of entry…..other than it’s massively coming over the border?

Frequent viewers of Fox would be aware of the argument that agents are stretched thin and unable to focus as much on ports of entry to find drugs because they are occupied apprehending and rescuing migrants who cross illegally.

Earlier in the week, the same show also showed a double standard in labeling Congressman Roy and other Republicans as “harder-line conservatives” on the issue but not labeling liberals. On Wednesday’s show, correspondent Lisa Desjardins recalled:The House Judiciary Committee is packed with Freedom Caucus members and other harder-line conservatives focused on the border, including Texas Congressman Chip Roy.

A bit later, liberal activists were not identified as such: “But others working on border issues argue the U.S. needs to be more open, not less, to the flood of asylum seekers. Dylan Corbett is an advocate who works with migrants.”

These double standards in the treatment of conservatives on the immigration issue were paid for in part by Consumer Cellular and by taxpayers like you.

PBS NewsHour

February 2, 2023

7:33 p.m. Eastern

AMNA NAWAZ: So you have brought forward an immigration bill that Speaker McCarthy says is one of several bills being considered — our Lisa Desjardins has been reporting on this — says you don’t have the votes for your bill to move forward just yet. But everyone agrees the immigration system is broken — Congress needs to act to fix it — so what is your plan? How can you fix it?

CONGRESSMAN CHIP ROY (R-TX): Yeah, so we have HR 29. It’s a bill I introduced last Congress in the Border Safety and Security Act. Look, the purpose of the bill is pretty simple. There’s been a lot of

hr29 and inadmissable

misinformation out there — a lot of people saying that, “Oh, somehow this bans asylum.” Some have used terms like “unChristianlike” ban on asylum. Let me set the record straight. This legislation does one thing — enforce current law to say that we have to detain for the entirety of the duration of an adjudication of a claim — an asylum claim — or turn away like we do under current Title 42 law during a pandemic. What does that mean in practice? It means you won’t release —

NAWAZ: Congressman, if you don’t mind — I’m sorry to interrupt, but our time is limited. I have the bill in front of me here. The language literally says, “the authority to suspend entry of aliens at borders of the United States,” giving power to the secretary of Homeland Security to essentially bar all entries — which even your fellow Republican, Tony Gonzales, called “un-American.”

CONGRESSMAN ROY: Yeah, well, Tony ought to read the bill and read current law. The fact of the matter is, what you’re doing by giving the secretary the power — not just the power but requiring the secretary to enforce the law to detain, is you’re saying, just like Title 42 — which Tony supports and campaigned on — and which every Republican supports and campaigned on — the same kind of power to say you can’t turn away — if you don’t have detention space — it means you would actually enforce current law.

You would still make asylum claims. Every single asylum claim would still be able to be claimed, but you just have to be detained while that’s being adjudicated. Today, we’re releasing into the United States. That’s causing a flood. That’s causing migrants to die. That’s causing Americans to die with fentanyl pouring into our communities. It’s empowering cartels. And, just yesterday, in our Judiciary Committee hearing, I had somebody from the county I live in — I had Brandon Dunn there because his son died from fentanyl last August.

I’m tired of it. I’m tired of people dying in Texas from fentanyl poisonings. I’m tired of the almost 1,000 dead migrants along the Rio Grande. I’m tired of the 53 migrants who died in a tractor trailer in San Antonio, and I’m tired of Republicans campaigning on securing the border and then running away from the fight. And accusing other Republicans of doing what we think is right to protect migrants and Americans with a common sense bill that enforces the law.

NAWAZ: Obviously, fentanyl is a huge problem, but the majority of fentanyl coming across the border comes at legal ports of entry. Secretary of Homeland Security Ale Mayorkas and I spoke this morning, and he said there is actually no evidence that it’s pouring in between ports of entry.

CONGRESSMAN ROY: Yeah, Border Patrol agents are being overwhelmed. You don’t know what’s coming in between the ports of entry. What I do know is that fentanyl has been pouring into our schools and our communities, and it’s the number one killer for people age 18 to 45.

NAWAZ: Yes, but, Congressman, the people that are coming between the ports of entry — linking them to carrying fentanyl — it’s at — there’s no evidence of that.

CONGRESSMAN ROY: Well, you know what the dad who said in the hearing yesterday — he said, “You know what, it only takes one pill to kill my son, and you can fit one pill in a backpack on one immigrant coming in between the ports of entry.” And, by the way, the Border Patrol agents can’t check every car at the ports of entry.


PBS NewsHour

February 1, 2023

7:26 p.m. Eastern

AMNA NAWAZ: In its first hearing of the year, the House Judiciary Committee focused on immigration, and how the Biden administration had handled record high numbers on the Southern border. Lisa Desjardins has been following it all, and has this look at how Republicans are making border security a key part of their agenda.

LISA DESJARDINS: Wielding their new power, House Republicans hammered the Biden administration over its handling of the border.

CONGRESSMAN JEFF VAN DREW (R-NJ): It is Biden’s problem because in two years it’s radically changed.

DESJARDINS: The House Judiciary Committee is packed with Freedom Caucus members and other harder line conservatives focused on the border, including Texas Congressman Chip Roy.

CONGRESSMAN CHIP ROY (R-TX): That’s 2020 to 2022 — almost 1,000 migrant deaths at the Southwest border of the United States.

CONGRESSMAN ANDY BIGGS (R-AZ): The border is dangerous. Drugs pour across — international terrorists, criminal gang members.

DESJARDINS: U.S. Customs and Border Protection saw a record at 2.3 million encounters with migrants in the Southwest last fiscal year, driven by a spike in migrants from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, with many repeat attempts by the same individuals. The hearing was parts heated with sharp accusations from Republicans.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Month after month after month, we have set records for migrants coming into the country, and, frankly, I think it’s intentional.

DESJARDINS: Part ardent defense from Democrats, who say Republicans are being political.

CONGRESSWOMAN VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX): – no one who wants a safe, secure well-managed border more than those of us who live and work on the border.

CONGRESSMAN TED LIEU (D-CA): This hearing is titled “Biden’s Border Crisis.” That is completely wrong. It is not Biden’s border crisis. This has been a crisis for over half a century.

DESJARDINS: And it was part trying to grasp the problem with U.S. policy at the border. Sheriff Mark Dannels of Cochise County, Arizona.

SHERIFF MARK DANNELS, COCHISE COUNTY, ARIZONA: I work with many Border Patrol agents — federal agents — and to date, I have not heard one say that it’s working.

DESJARDINS: Indeed, along the border, some in law enforcement say their officers are overwhelmed.

CLINT McDONALD, SOUTHWEST BORDER SHERIFFS COALITION: The influx of people — the mass quantities of people that are invading our border — our Border Patrol cannot keep up with it.

DESJARDINS: Clint McDonald is the executive director of the Texas and Southwest Border Sheriffs Coalition. He’s critical of Biden policy and says Border Patrol is struggling.

McDONALD: They’re understaffed and underworked, and are falling behind every day. So our sheriffs are having to put on hold the citizens that elected them to office to try to help with this immigration problem. Our sheriffs don’t want to be immigration officers, but they’re forced into that role now.

DESJARDINS: But others working on border issues argue the U.S. needs to be more open, not less, to the flood of asylum seekers. Dylan Corbett is an advocate who works with migrants.

DYLAN CORBETT, HOPE BORDER INSTITUTE: We are concerned that, two years into the administration, we haven’t fully restored asylum at the border, and we’re seeing steps in the opposite direction. This administration is embracing some of the policies of the previous administration to manage in a long-term way immigration at the border.

DESJARDINS: Back at today’s hearing, the mixed search for light.

CONGRESSMAN JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): And I’d love to be able to have a thoughtful conversation with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle about these different prescriptive proposals.


CONGRESSMAN JORDAN: In the last Congress, they controlled everything. Joe Biden was a Democrat in the White House, the Senate was controlled by the Democrats, and the House was controlled by the Democrats. Why didn’t they fix it then?

DESJARDINS: Revealed little new but opened what could be a significant debate. Republicans plan more hearings and say they hope to write legislation in coming weeks. For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Lisa Desjardins.

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