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BARTIROMO: And that was Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham on this program last weekend vowing to put forward an immigration bill that would overhaul the nation's asylum laws.
The border town of Yuma, Arizona, becoming the first in the country to declare a state of emergency, saying that they are overwhelmed by the flood of families seeking asylum.
Joining me right now to react to all of that is Michigan Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee. He's chief deputy whip and a member of the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees.
And, Congressman, it's always a pleasure to see you. Thank you so much for being here this morning.
REP. DAN KILDEE, D-MICH.: Thanks, Maria. Thank you.
BARTIROMO: So, you just heard what Senator Lindsey Graham said.
Can you get behind legislation, should it hit the House, in terms of changing some of these immigration laws? Because it feels to me like there is a crisis at the border. We showed this exclusive video that we will show you right now.
This was last week on the 16th, where Border Patrol apprehended 980 people who got out of a van and just crossed the border illegally in three different groups. You know that, if they say they're family and they're with children, the U.S. can only detain them for 20 days, and then they just send them back out to the population.
And yet, Congressman, it seems like we can't get the attention of some of your colleagues in leadership positions, for example, Ted Lieu.
Ted Lieu, your colleague, has been tweeting about this in such an arrogant and rude way. Here is what he says. Every day, he says.
"Today is day 30 of our national emergency. Can you feel the emergency? Apparently, the self-declared major national emergency is not on the top of mind for @realDonaldTrump today."
Every day, he's saying, we're in day 20, we're in day 29, making fun of it. How are you going to get their attention? And do you even want to?
KILDEE: Well, obviously, this is an issue we have to deal with.
But let's be clear. There's a crisis in Honduras. There's a crisis in Guatemala. There's a crisis in El Salvador. And while there are people presenting themselves at the border, we have to be careful to say that it is legal for a person to present in the United States and seek asylum.
I don't this agree, however, that we have to do something to make better decisions about how we handle these sorts of problems. We could codify, for example, the program that was in place just a few years ago that kept families together when their asylum cases were being determined.
And, clearly, we need more resources to make sure that those asylum cases are heard more quickly. But, yes, I don't think it helps to deny that there's a problem. But I think that it's really important that we not view it in a one-dimensional fashion, that it's only a problem because we're dealing with people crossing the border seeking asylum.
It is a problem because our entire immigration system, including aspects of the asylum system, is broken.
KILDEE: And if we're going to deal with this, it's my hope that we deal with it in a comprehensive fashion.
BARTIROMO: So, just to be clear, you said there's a crisis in El Salvador, a crisis in Honduras, a crisis in Guatemala. Is there a crisis in America?
KILDEE: Well, the crisis is coming to us. And we have a responsibility...
BARTIROMO: There's a crisis at the border.
KILDEE: ... to be really thoughtful about how we deal with that.
Well, it's a crisis that is appearing at the border, but I want -- I don't mean to split hairs on this, but I do want to be really clear, that the crisis is a crisis that these families are facing.
As you said in the initial reporting on this...
BARTIROMO: If they're families. A lot of people say that when...
KILDEE: For the most -- well, I...
BARTIROMO: .. they -- when further looked at, when looked closer, they are actually not families.
There's a whole game going on where people are borrowing other people's kids so that they can cross the border with kids. So they are actually not families. They look like families.
KILDEE: But a lot of them -- but there's no evidence that the majority of them are not genuine families seeking asylum. In fact, I, back last July...
BARTIROMO: I think the Border Patrol said that, when looked closer, that many of them are not families. That's what the Border Patrol said.
KILDEE: Well -- it could -- that could be that -- it could be that many of them are not.
KILDEE: But when you're talking about people fleeing a difficult and dangerous situation, I think you have to accept the fact that, because some of them may not have pure intention, that we can't -- we just can't ignore those that do.
KILDEE: I mean, I saw those children back in July when I visited one of those facilities that were holding the children that had been separated from their parents.
It's a real problem. But I think sometimes we end up painting these issue as if it is completely black and white, all one or all the other.
BARTIROMO: Yes. No, I understand.
KILDEE: I think we have a real problem that we have to address.
BARTIROMO: What is black and white, though, is you are representing your constituents in Michigan. And the American people are also getting impacted from these crisis that you're referring to in Honduras and Guatemala.
And they're getting impacted by all of these illegals coming into the country, taking their jobs, you know, weighing down wages, et cetera, expensive to give benefits to people who are living here and not paying taxes, all of that.
So my point is, is, why can't the Democrats, your colleagues, see that there is an issue and work together with the Republicans to actually change it, rather than being in investigate mode all the time?
Do you think the American people and your constituents in particular in Michigan want you to get something done on their behalf?
KILDEE: Sure, they do.
And I will say this. We're not in investigate mode all the time. The vast majority of the time I spend in Congress has very little to do with any investigations of anyone in the administration. And that's true of people on both sides of the aisle.
It gets a lot more attention, certainly from the news media, but the fact of the matter is, we spend a lot of time on these issues.
BARTIROMO: What can you say -- what do you think was done in the first 100 days with the Democrats in the majority? What is a real piece of legislation that is done that you can say, OK, this is what we got done in the first 100 days, because we just saw the first 100 days last week?
KILDEE: Yes, we passed the Paycheck Fairness Act that I think significantly improved access to resources that allow people to -- women particularly, to have access to decent pay for the work that they do.
We pass the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. We passed HR-1, I think, goes a substantial distance in correcting some of the real problems that we see in our political system.
We have an agenda.
BARTIROMO: And you would like to get infrastructure done, right? You would like to get something done on infrastructure.
KILDEE: Absolutely, for sure.
BARTIROMO: There's obviously issues in Flint, Michigan, that you have been quite concerned with.
KILDEE: No question about it.
In fact, we have had really good discussions on the Ways and Means Committee, which will have a part of the infrastructure conversation, because we have to figure out how we are paying for it. And those have been bipartisan conversations.
So I think, very often, there's this impression that we can't do more than one thing at a time. We have a responsibility to provide oversight on the administration. And we're doing that.
But that doesn't mean we should do that at the expense of the other big questions. I know the people I work for, they want us to take care of our responsibilities under the Constitution to hold the administration accountable.
But they really want us to get to work trying to solve the big problems that affect their families every single day.
BARTIROMO: Absolutely. And we will be watching you do just that.
Congressman, it's good to see you this morning. Thanks so much.
KILDEE: Thanks, Maria.
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