Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) on Friday snapped at CNN’s Alisyn Camerota after she pressed the Republican congressman on a variety of issues related to immigration and border security, at one point insisting he knows a migrant caravan from Central America is not full of “legitimate” asylum seekers because he “reads.”
Brooks this week put out a statement backing Donald Trump’s plan to send National Guard agents to the United States-Mexico border, insisting he “fully supports” the president’s efforts to stop an “invasion by foreign nationals.”
“Why are you using the word invasion?” Camerota asked.
“Because that’s the word that applies,” Brooks retorted. “If you go to Webster’s Dictionary, it absolutely fits that definition.”
Camerota asked about a caravan of migrants that prompted Trump’s impulsive decision to send guardsmen to the border, noting this is "the process by which foreign nationals seek asylum in the U.S.”
Brooks retorted that if Camerota wants to “get into the legalistics [sic] of what is asylum and what is not, that is one thing.”
“But as often happens, these people cross our borders, they don’t do some kind of legal, formal application process from another country to assert asylum to come into America,” Brooks said, adding those migrants are “advised by lawyers to say the right things that need to be said in order to stay in the United States of America.” He then argued the U.S. economy is facing “wage suppression because of the huge surge in labor supply.”
“That’s debatable,” Camerota replied, citing studies that show immigration is vital to the U.S. economy.
“If you’re talking about lawful immigration, we have the most generous lawful immigration policy on the planet,” Brooks shot back. “Nobody is as generous as the United States of America.”
“There are something like 1,000 people from Central America, and they say they're fleeing persecution, fleeing violence in their home countries and trying to make it here for asylum,” Camerota explained of the migrant caravan. “This is the process. This is the legal process.”
“There are literally billions, billions of people who could make that same kind of argument,” Brooks insisted. “But the bottom line is, as much as we might want to have compassion for people around the planet that under these circumstances, America cannot afford it.”
“We cannot afford to be the planet's orphanage, the place where everybody comes and lives off the hard work of Americans and lawful immigrants who are already here,” the GOP rep insisted.
“Are you saying our doors are now closed to people who are fleeing persecution?” Camerota asked.
“No,” Brooks stammered. “Well, okay. When you say they're fleeing persecution that is, of course, a judgment call and something that has to be decided in a legal format. We don't have the physical ability to harbor and house all those people. I wish we did. Compassionately, we want to help people but you have to recognize our limitations.”
“Where is the rest of the world?” Brooks demanded.
The GOP congressman later accused Camerota of advocating for policies that “suppress the wages of americans and lawful immigrants who are already here” and “deny job opportunities to americans and lawful immigrants who are already here.”
“Fine, be an open border society,” he said. “That seems to be what you're arguing for.”
Brooks went on to insist “none of those people from Central America are legitimate asylum seekers.”
“How do you know that?” Camerota asked.
“Because I read!” Brooks snapped.
Watch the full interview below, via CNN: