On Meet The Press, Homeland Security Jeh Johnson repeatedly corrected David Gregory’s misinformation based on Republican talking points about the immigration crisis unfolding on the Southern border.
DAVID GREGORY: You heard the mayor of Murrieta, “Why now? Why so many?” Is part of the answer that the administration, through some of its executive actions, have said, in effect, “Look, if you come, we’re going to let you in?”
SECRETARY JEH JOHNSON: First of all, David, the reason we’re seeing this influx has to do primarily with the conditions in the three Central American countries that they’re leaving from, the push factor.
DAVID GREGORY: More than– and it’s double, though?
DAVID GREGORY: Could it be 90,000 this year?
SECRETARY JEH JOHNSON: Honduras is in a really bad place right now. El Salvador, Guatemala. The push factor is what is driving this recent influx. In addition, we know that the smuggling organizations, the criminal smuggling organizations, are putting out a lot of disinformation about supposed ‘free passes’ into this country that are going to expire at the end of May, at the end of June. “Just give us your money and we’ll get you into the country by the end of the month.” It’s like a used car salesman saying that the sale’s going to expire at the end of the week.
DAVID GREGORY: But that’s not all misinformation, Mr. Secretary. There is deferred action on some children, passed in 2012, that will allow some children of illegal immigrants to stay.
SECRETARY JEH JOHNSON: Well, that’s the point we keep stressing. The deferred action program is for kids who came to this country seven years ago. It’s not for anyone who comes to this country today, tomorrow or yesterday. And the legislation that the Senate passed, which provides for an earned path to citizenship, is for those who were in this country in 2011. It’s not for those that are coming here today.
DAVID GREGORY: How many– the numbers, again. I mean a year ago it’s 26,000. It’s double that. Could it get up to 90,000 this year?
SECRETARY JEH JOHNSON: I believe we’re going to stem this tide.
DAVID GREGORY: I know, but my question is how bad could it get? How many more are we going to see? People want to know the challenge you face.
SECRETARY JEH JOHNSON: I believe we’ll stem this tide. And we’re doing a number of things to do that right now.
DAVID GREGORY: So you don’t think the numbers will go up, is what you’re saying.
SECRETARY JEH JOHNSON: The numbers have very definitely–
DAVID GREGORY: Right. I mean they’re certainly going to go up from where they are, if they’re already double this year, and we’re sitting here in the summertime.
SECRETARY JEH JOHNSON: They have definitely gone up. But I believe we will stem this tide. We are doing a number of things to do that. With regards to the adult population, who are coming here without their kids, we have dramatically reduced the turnaround time from something like 33 days down to four days.
With regards to adults who are bringing their children, we’re bringing on additional detention capacity. We’re turning that population of people around quicker. And with regards to the children, very definitely there are special considerations with the children. And we keep reminding people of the dangers that your lead-in points out, to climbing on board top of a freight train.
I’ve spoken directly to kids on the border who’ve told me that they have held on for days and hours to the top of a freight train, literally holding on for dear life because they risk falling off and dying. We keep reminding parents of the dangers of sending your children unaccompanied on this journey, this long, 1,000-mile journey, and that there are no free passes once you get here. DACA is not available for these children.
Gregory’s first question was straight out of the Republican talking points. Instead of asking if the president’s executive actions caused this influx, he could have asked what in the administration’s view is responsible for the increase? Gregory’s question was based on partisan talking points that lack factual basis.
It is impossible to accurately guess how many people will arrive at the border in this situation, but Republicans have it all wrong. The government shouldn’t be deploying troops and drones to protect the border. The administration should be doing everything that they can to stem the tide of children that are arriving. The situation will be resolved when children and adults stop leaving their home countries and trying to come to the United States. The people who arrive at the border illegally have to be sent back home, but the US needs more that Republican tough talk. The country needs a real immigration policy.
Irresponsible journalists like David Gregory only make the crisis worse when they try to exploit the partisan divide for ratings. It is shameful that a guest had to correct the misinformation that the moderator of Meet The Press based his questions on. David Gregory chose to play political games instead of informing his viewers. There is a humanitarian crisis unfolding on the border, and in a quest for ratings, Gregory pandered to Republicans instead of reporting on the story.
David Gregory’s handling of this interview demonstrated the main reason why the ratings for Meet The Press are in the dumpster.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association