Trump administration dismantled 'safe' border policies, Biden rebuilding process: DHS chief Mayorkas
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas tells 'Fox News Sunday' the Biden administration is encouraging families not to send their migrant children along 'dangerous' border.
This is a rush transcript from “Fox News Sunday,” March 21, 2021. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I’m Chris Wallace.
President Biden’s immigration policy is under fire as a flood of unaccompanied children arrive at the Southern border and get to stay in the U.S.
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Their families make the heart wrenching decision to send them on a journey across Mexico to provide them with a better, safer future.
WALLACE (voice-over): The surge of minors overwhelming rural facilities in Texas, where the governor is leading the charge against the president’s policies.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: The Biden administration must also answer for enticing unaccompanied minors into inhumane conditions.
WALLACE: We’ll talk with a man in charge of securing the border, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.
Then, the immigration bill moving to the Senate floor highlight the gridlock in Congress on the fight over the filibuster. We’ll sit down with Republican Senator Tom Cotton, only on “FOX News Sunday.”
JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hate can have no safe harbor in America.
WALLACE: The shootings at Asian-run spas in Atlanta trigger a national debate. We’ll ask our Sunday panel whether the mass killings are part of growing violence against Asian-Americans.
And our “Power Player of the Week.” He’s known as Beeple and his digital creation 13 years in the making just sold for $69 million.
All, right now, on “FOX News Sunday”.
WALLACE (on camera): And hello again from FOX News in Washington.
The number of migrants caught trying to cross into this country from Mexico is on the rise and headed for a 20-year high. Members of the Biden administration have refused to call the situation on the border crisis, but there’s growing concern about the flood of unaccompanied minors into the U.S. and the conditions they face once they’re here. Many Republicans say the Biden administration’s decision to relax President Trump’s policies is driving the surge.
In a moment, we’ll sit down with the manner charge of securing the border, the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.
But first, FOX team coverage. David Spunt reports from the White House but we begin with Steve Harrigan in Mission, Texas, on the U.S. border with Mexico — Steve.
STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDEN: Chris, we’ve just been watching migrants cross over the border here into Mission, Texas. Small groups, three, five, ten. We’ve seen buses go by as well to the processing center, some coming from as far away as Honduras.
HARRIGAN (voice-over): This family has been walking for seven months. The husband, 25, carries his son, age 4 on his shoulders. The wife, 21, carries their one bag. The walk began 1500 miles ago in Honduras. The motivation was life or death.
A gang killed her brother, he says. It got very dangerous. They said they were going to kill us all, she says. The family is just one of many migrant families streaming north in small groups.
Once across the Rio Grande onto U.S. territory, signs direct them to a processing center. The makeshift site offers some protection against the heat, the rain, and COVID.
The family says they are going to Houston, confident they will not be separated or deported. The family says they don’t know if it will be easier. They are going to try to find out.
HARRIGAN (on camera): When you stand next to that family and look at them, especially the mother, you really see a deep sense of exhaustion — Chris.
WALLACE: Steve Harrigan reporting from the southern border. Steve, thank you for that.
Now let’s turn to David Spunt at the White House with the view from Washington — David.
DAVID SPUNT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris.
The administration’s message to migrants now is not the time to come to the southern border. Critics say that message needs to be more aggressive and the president needs to visit personally now.
BIDEN: Thank you.
SPUNT (voice-over): Two months into the job, the Biden White House is scrambling to manage a humanitarian dilemma.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): We’ve got to deal with it and deal with it directly. The word is out in Central America, there is a new administration and it’s being tested.
SPUNT: The president and his administration preferred to call the surge a challenge, but Republicans insist it’s much more.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: This is a crisis. I don’t care what the secretary of homeland security wants to call it. It’s a crisis.
SPUNT: Agents took into custody more than 19,000 family units last month, though officials are seeing a surge specifically in unaccompanied children. There are around 15,000 unaccompanied children in custody and the numbers continue to rise.
Nearly 9,500 unaccompanied children were detained at the border in February. That’s nearly three times the amount from last February.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: We can solve the immigration problem, but don’t confuse a border crisis with an immigration problem.
SPUNT (on camera): The House passed two White House-approved immigration bills last Thursday. The fate of those bills unclear in an evenly divided Senate — Chris.
WALLACE: David, thank you.
And joining us now, the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.
Mr. Secretary, welcome to “FOX News Sunday”.
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Good morning and thank you for having me, Chris.
WALLACE: I want to start with something that White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said this week. Take a look, sir.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are taking steps to ensure that when kids come to the border we look and see if they have a phone number in their pockets so we can call the family member and get them to those family members as quickly as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: I understand compassion for these children but why is it the responsibility of the U.S. to resettle (ph) minors coming across the border illegally?
MAYORKAS: Chris, that is the law under the United States. We have an asylum program that recognizes young children — young, vulnerable children’s right to claim asylum, to claim fear from persecution by reason of their membership in a particular group. That is what the law provides and we administer and enforce those laws.
WALLACE: You and the administration talk about being humane. But let’s go back to what the Trump policy was, which, in the case of non-Mexican minors was not, as it’s been suggested, simply to turn these kids around and push them back into the desert. In fact, we would coordinate with other countries, we would charter planes, we would send them back by airplane to resettle with their families.
Why is it more humane to take these kids, to put them in Border Patrol facilities that were not meant for children, often times for many more days than the legal limit?
MAYORKAS: Chris, that is not what the prior administration did. Forgive me, the prior administration did expel children, did fly children to countries where — from which they were fleeing, countries that did not have the capacity to administer asylum claims, countries that suffer tremendous violence, poverty, corruption, and other infirmities.
So to suggest that the prior administration handled the needs of children in a humane way is just false.
WALLACE: Well, you seem to have agreed with me, sir, that they would put them on planes, they wouldn’t just send them back over the desert. They’d put them on a plane and fly them back to Guatemala or El Salvador.
Are you suggesting that every minor, the thousands and thousands of minors coming across this country, has a legitimate asylum claim and that a lot of them aren’t just coming across the border because they want to have a better life here — which is understandable but isn’t necessarily our responsibility?
MAYORKAS: Chris, we administer our laws and let me say a few things, if I may. Number one, the prior administration dismantled the orderly and safe way that these children could make their claims. It tore down the Central American Minors program that allow these children to make their claims under United States’ law without having to take the perilous journey.
We are rebuilding that process. We are encouraging families not to send their children along the dangerous journey because so many do not make it safely. We are encouraging them not to do so. Yet, if they arrive at the border, we have a responsibility to allow them to make their claims under United States’ law and to address — these are vulnerable children, to address their needs. And we can do so in a safe and orderly manner.
It takes time because the entire system was dismantled. We are working on it and we will succeed because that is what we do.
WALLACE: I’m going to get back to that in a moment, Mr. Secretary. But the day after President Biden took office, he made this promise to the American people. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Vice President Harris and I and our entire administration, we’ll always be honest and transparent with you about both the good news and the bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: So why has the Biden administration refused to allow reporters to see for themselves and to record what the conditions are under which these minors are being housed? Why, in fact, did you — when you went to the border on Friday and led a congressional delegation, why did you refuse to allow reporters to see the conditions under which these minors are being held?
MAYORKAS: Two things, Chris, if I may. Number one, let’s not forget that we’re in the midst of a pandemic and we are focused on our operations, executing our operations in a crowded Border Patrol facility where hundreds of vulnerable migrant children are located. Number one.
And number two, we’re working on providing footage so that the American public can see the Border Patrol stations. And I would encourage you and other reporters to see the facilities under the control of the Health and Human Services Department where those children are sheltered and where they belong and where we are moving them as quickly as possible.
WALLACE: Secretary Mayorkas, respectfully, sir, I think that there is a safe condition under which a pool reporter and a pool camera crew could go into some of these facilities — this has been going on for two months now — and record the conditions under which these minors are being held. It seems to me to say it’s impossible to do because of COVID sounds like an excuse.
MAYORKAS: Chris, we’re working on providing access so that individuals will be able to see what the conditions in a Border Patrol station are like. But first things first, we are in the midst of a pandemic and we’re focused on operations and executing on our plans. That’s our highest priority.
But we are providing —
MAYORKAS: — for that access and certainly reporters can see the Department of Health and Human Services facility in which children are sheltered for a longer period of time.
WALLACE: Texas Governor Greg Abbott raised two concerns this week about conditions in the camp for minors in Midland, Texas. Take a look, sir.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREAT ABBOTT, (R-TX): So there is no viable, usable running water at the location in Midland and then, on top of that, more than 10 percent of the migrants at the Midland location have now tested positive for COVID-19.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Mr. Secretary, why not let reporters go to see what the conditions are at the camp in Midland? And is it true that more than 10 percent of the minors in Midland have tested positive and, in fact, that more than 200 migrants in Brownsville tested positive for COVID and then were released?
MAYORKAS: Chris, the minors who are arriving and who are placed in the Department of Health and Human Services facilities are tested. They are all tested, isolated, and quarantined. Our COVID-19 protocols that are administered by the Department of Health and Human Services are operated very efficiently.
We also, I should say, work very closely with local officials in Texas with local organizations to also test, isolate, and quarantine children. And we offer reimbursement, 100 percent, from FEMA. And I do hope that Governor Abbott reconsiders his position of not allowing those local organizations and local officials to be reimbursed 100 percent by the federal government.
That’s all in the service —
WALLACE: I want to —
MAYORKAS: — of the public health imperative.
WALLACE: Excuse me, sir. I want to put up what President Biden has done on immigration policy in just his first two months in office. He halted part of Title 42 to allow unaccompanied minors to stay in the U.S. during the pandemic. He ended the provision that asylum seekers must remain in Mexico while their cases are being heard. And he suspended the Safe Third Country Agreements to share asylum seekers with other countries.
You put out this statement on Tuesday: We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the Southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.
Mr. Secretary, do you not see a connection between the surge at the border and the policy changes that Joe Biden has made in his first two months?
MAYORKAS: Chris, I do not. What I am seeing is the result and what we are seeing is the result of President Trump’s dismantlement of the safe and orderly immigration processes that were built over many, many years by presidents of both parties. That’s what we are seeing and that’s why it’s taking time for us to execute our plans to administer the humanitarian claims of vulnerable children.
That’s what this is about. This is about vulnerable children.
And let me say one thing as well, if I may, Chris. Safe Third Country Agreements is misnamed. There’s nothing safe about it. To return people to the very countries from which they are fleeing persecution.
That’s just false and we have replaced the Remain in Mexico policy with a safe and orderly triage system, working with our partners in Mexico, and humanitarian organizations in the international space and we are not expelling vulnerable children. At the same time, we are encouraging them not to take the dangerous journey because we are rebuilding orderly processes for them as well, as our country has always had, until the prior administration.
WALLACE: One final question, sir. You say that you are encouraging minors not to come across. The message, clearly, isn’t getting through. It’s true that the number of people coming across the border began to increase in the final months of the Trump administration, but there has been a big sharp spike since Joe Biden has come in (ph).
And I want to put up some of the numbers here. Seventy-four thousand border apprehensions in Trump’s final months — full month of December. One hundred thousand in Joe Biden’s first full month in February. Just under 5,000 unaccompanied minors came across the border, apprehended in Trump’s final months of December. Ninety-four hundred in December — in February.
The numbers rose dramatically after President Biden took office, after he changed the policies. And in addition, for all your talk about minors, the fact is, sir, according to CBP Border Patrol numbers, 58.87 percent of the family units that came across in February have been allowed to stay in this country. You are not returning them — the vast majority of them back south of the border.
MAYORKAS: Chris, a few points there. You mentioned that the numbers began to spike up, admittedly, in the last couple months of the Trump administration. Actually, the numbers began to spike in April of 2020. The numbers were extremely high throughout 2019. This administration did not —
WALLACE: Not like they have been in February, sir —
MAYORKAS: — arms of their parents.
WALLACE: Not like they have been in February —
MAYORKAS: Chris, we do expel families. We are working with Mexico to increase Mexico’s capacity to receive the expelled families. The border is secure. The border is closed. We’ve been unequivocal in that and we are operationalizing our processes, executing our plans, we are a nation of laws, and we treat vulnerable children humanely. We can do it and we are doing it.
WALLACE: Secretary Mayorkas, thank you. Thanks for your time this week and thank you for answering all our questions. And please come back, sir.
MAYORKAS: I look forward to it. And thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Up next, we’ll get reaction from Republican Senator Tom Cotton, who says he has three simple solutions to stop the surge across the border.
WALLACE: Our next guest has called the Biden administration’s immigration plan “recruit and release”.
Joining us now, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton.
Senator, welcome back.
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): Good to be on with you, Chris.
WALLACE: You just watched my interview with Secretary Mayorkas. Your reaction, sir?
COTTON: Chris, it’s rich that Secretary Mayorkas won’t let press travel with him to the border, but he will come on your Sunday morning show and peddle the same kind of nonsense that has created the Biden border crisis in the first place. I mean, he’s basically saying the United States will not secure our border and that is a big welcome sign to migrants from across the world.
WALLACE: So you say that you have three simple solutions. What are they?
COTTON: Yeah, Chris, the Biden administration keeps saying that Trump somehow dismantled the immigration system. That’s false. It was the Biden administration that dismantled three highly effective policies.
First, the public health exclusionary order. They lifted that order as it relates to minors. Well, guess what we have now with the border? Lots more minors. That’s not a surprise.
Second, the “remain in Mexico” policy. The Trump administration worked with the government of Mexico to allow migrants who showed up on our border to make an asylum claim but remain in Mexico while we adjudicated rather than just releasing them into the country.
And third, the so-called safe third country agreement with countries like Guatemala that says if you pass through a country that’s not your own seeking asylum, you have to make that asylum claim when the first country to pass through. That’s the international norm, that’s what we should do.
Joe Biden could reimpose all three of those things this week if you wanted to.
WALLACE: One of the things I was struck by at the end of the interview, Secretary Mayorkas said, quote: The border is secure, the border is closed.
COTTON: No, Chris, of course not. The border is wide open. There are reports now Custom and Border Patrol may be directed to simply start processing people into the country without even giving them a notice to appear in court.
And, of course, all of these bogus asylum claims are taking up so much manpower and resources of the border, that means that we also have other threats, like increases in fentanyl and other kinds of drug trafficking or persons on the terrorist watch list crossing to our border.
The border right now is wide open because the Biden administration dismantled the very effective policies of the Trump administration and the agreements we had with Mexico and other Latin American countries.
WALLACE: I want to turn to another subject, Senator. You’ve voted against the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.
And I want to put up some of the things that it would do for Arkansas. It would provide stimulus payments of up to $1,400 to 93 percent of adults in your state, and 94 percent of children in your state. It would also provide $1.2 billion for schools in Arkansas, grades K-12.
Senator, are you saying that the people of your state don’t need that money?
COTTON: Well, Chris, that bill would do a lot of other things as well. You know, we’ve been talking about what causes border crisis. Look at a couple other provisions in that bill. For instance, stimulus checks to illegal aliens as well, or money to sanctuary cities. Those are the kinds of incentives that help migrants come to our border.
More broadly though, Chris, we worked together last year with the Democrats in the Trump administration to pass multiple bills to help the American people get through this pandemic. Many of those bills passed unanimously. We did one in December as well.
The conditions of course have changed now. Vaccines are spreading across the country, case rates are declining rapidly.
Republicans had no problem providing more money for vaccine distribution, for instance, or to help people who have lost income. But we shouldn’t be spending $2 trillion on a lot of unrelated Democratic priorities or sending money to families that haven’t lost any income. That’s what this bill did.
WALLACE: Here is one of your other complaints about the COVID relief bill. Take a look, sir.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COTTON: Look how crazy some of the Democratic ideas are. I mean, they had a chance on Saturday morning to stop checks from going to prisoners, from going to the Boston bomber, for instance, and on that note, they declined. Every single Democrat wanted to continue the practice of sending checks to prisoners.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But, Senator, under two previous COVID relief bills that you supported and voted for and that President Trump signed, prisoners also got checks in those bills.
COTTON: Well, Chris, that was obviously never Congress’ intent. The Trump administration, IRS and Treasury Department did not send checks to prisoners. Liberal advocacy groups sued to try to force that, a liberal judge said they had to.
Last month was the first — or this month was the first time we ever had a simple up or down vote on whether those checks should go to prisoners, and the simple fact is that every Democrat voted to keep sending checks to prisoners.
I don’t think that’s a smart idea. I suspect most Americans don’t either.
WALLACE: One of the next big pieces of legislation that President Biden is working on is going to be an even bigger $2 trillion, $3 trillion, $4 trillion infrastructure plan.
And I want to look at some of the infrastructure needs that Arkansas has — 4.9 percent of the bridges in Arkansas are structurally deficient, 193 dams have high hazard potential. Drinking water needs in your state, $7.4 billion.
President Biden wants to pay for this plan at least in part by raising taxes on people making more than $400,000 a year and to raise the corporate tax rate from 21 percent up to 28 percent.
Would you support — I mean, aren’t the needs in Arkansas sufficiently urgent that you could support taxing people making more than $400,000 and raising the tax rate on corporations, which is still lower than when — would still be lower than when President Trump came into office to pay for that?
COTTON: Chris, we have infrastructure needs in Arkansas, like every state does. But I suspect based on what effort my Democratic friends in the Senate that this bill is not going to be geared to alerts those needs, it’s going to be geared towards big tax increases and implementing something like the Green New Deal.
Now, if you think your gas bills have gone up a lot recently, wait until you see what you pay at the pump after the Democrats do that.
We can do this kind of bill, though, Chris, without big tax hikes. The reason we are talking about an infrastructure bill right now is that the last bill we passed is about to expire into this year and we passed that bill in 2015 with more than 80 votes in the United States Senate, without tax increases, because (ph) we focused on a lot of the problems we have with infrastructure in this country, like excessively burdensome and lengthy and cumbersome permitting and regulatory and environmental approval processes.
Chris, you probably know that the Pentagon was built in 16 months in the 1940s. It took the government years to repair a bridge in front of the Pentagon that just runs a couple hundred feet. The problems that we have in this country is not that we don’t have enough money for infrastructure. It’s that it costs too much and that we spend too much on things that are not roads and bridges and broadband access.
Finally, I’ve got about a minute left here, sir. President Biden talked this week about trying to reform — not end, but to reform the filibuster so that senators have to keep talking around the clock in order to continue the filibuster and to stop the legislation. Take a look at President Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don’t think you have to limit the filibuster. You have to do it what it used to be when I first got to the Senate, and you had to stand up and command the floor. Once you stop talking, you lost that and someone can move in and say, I move the question of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: There has been an explosion in filibusters, 357 cloture motions to end debate, many of them not successful but 357 between 1975 and 1992. Since 1993, 1,803 cloture motions and as I say, many of them didn’t end the filibuster, they were just attempts to.
Senator, you know, at some point, maybe as soon as two years from now, you Republicans are going to be back in the majority. Isn’t there something to be said for more legislating and less gridlock?
COTTON: No, Chris, there is something to be said for compromise and bipartisanship and respect for the rights of the minority in the Senate. These rules have been in place since the beginning of our republic, and the Democrats are engaging in pretty highly situational ethics. You know, just four years ago, 27 Democrats wrote a letter urging Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer to maintain these rules.
Now, most of those senators have flip-flopped simply because they have the barest of majorities.
Republicans refused to change those rules four years ago because we respect these traditions in the Senate and we know they’ve helped forge durable, bipartisan consensus legislation.
WALLACE: Senator Cotton, thank you. Thanks for coming in today. Always good to talk with you.
COTTON: Thank you, Chris.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Not and but to reform the filibuster so that senators have to keep talking around the clock in order to continue the filibuster and to stop the legislation.
Take a look at President Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don’t think you have to eliminate the filibuster, you have to do it what it used to be when I first got to the Senate. You had to stand up and command the floor. Once you stop talking, you lost that and someone could move in and say I move the question of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: There has been an explosion and filibusters. Three hundred and fifty-seven cloture motions to end debate, many of them not successful, but 357 between 1975 and 1992. Since 1993, 1,803 cloture motions. And as I say, many of them didn’t end the filibuster, they were just attempts to.
Senator, you know, at some point, maybe as soon as two years from now, you, Republicans, are going to be back in the majority. Isn’t there something to be said for more legislating and less gridlock?
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): No — no, Chris, there’s something to be said for compromise and bipartisanship and respect for the rights of the minority in the Senate. These rules have been in place since the beginning of our republic. And these Democrats are engaged in pretty highly, situational ethics. You know, just four years ago 27 Democrats still in the Senate wrote a letter urging Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer to maintain these rules. Now, most of those senators have flip-flopped simply because they have the barest of majorities.
COTTON: Republicans refused to change those rules four years ago because we respect these traditions in the Senate and we know they’ve helped forge durable, bipartisan consensus legislation.
WALLACE: Senator Cotton, thank you. Thanks for coming in today. Always good to talk with you.
COTTON: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Up next we’ll bring in our Sunday group to discuss the battle over the border and the growing debate in the Senate about whether to change the filibuster.
But first, next month marks the 25th anniversary of FOX NEWS SUNDAY. We’re planning a special hour to mark the occasion. And ahead of that, we want to start bringing you some memorable moments in this program’s history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: So you’re known as a master negotiator, but didn’t you mess this one up?
Dr. Rice, all the talk about the nuclear program, all the talk about aluminum tubes was wrong.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The intelligence at the time and — and, Chris, it is a fact that you can only act today on what you knew yesterday.
WALLACE: Back when Republicans were in the minority, you liked to call them the party of no. Today, aren’t you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Coming up, some Democrats look to change the filibuster to get their legislative agenda through.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): I say to the defenders of the filibuster, try to defend what’s happened on the floor of the Senate the last two years, almost nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: We’ll ask our Sunday panel about the debate over its future, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We’re not going to send a 10-year- old back across the border. That was the policy of the last administration. That’s not our policy here.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): How long will these children be here? What countries have they come from and what COVID variants have they been exposed to?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defending the Biden policy of allowing unaccompanied minors into the country and Texas Governor Abbott warning of the dangers.
And it’s time now for our Sunday group.
Guy Benson of Fox News Radio, Catherine Lucey, who covers the White House for “The Wall Street Journal,” and Charles Lane from “The Washington Post.”
Catherine, I think it’s fair to say that the Biden administration very much wanted to focus on two issues, both related to the pandemic, in his opening months. First of all, the public health crisis, how to deal with that. Also the economic fallout.
How unprepared were they for this crisis, whatever they want to call it, at the border? And while I’m happy that they put Secretary Mayorkas on several Sunday shows today, given their desire to talk about other things, why do you think they did it?
CATHERINE LUCEY, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Well, I think you’re right, Chris, that absolutely with the administration had wanted to talk about and has been trying to talk about in recent days is the COVID-19 legislation that was passed, the relief that is coming to Americans. You’ve seen the president out on the road trying to promote that this week in several cities, and he’s going to continue to do that. And they still do see that as an important priority.
But, yes, they are on the defensive. And you saw that earlier in the show today with Secretary Mayorkas on how they’re dealing with the border. In terms of preparedness, you know, they’re — they are talking about how they are trying to get additional resources there, they are opening, you know, FEMA — FEMA’s opening additional centers. They’re working on getting more beds. You know, they are pointing, as the secretary did, to the idea that the previous administration left them with problems to clean up. But certainly they’re facing a lot of criticism that they should have been better prepared for this.
WALLACE: Guy, Republicans, not surprisingly, are jumping on this issue to go after President Biden and to go after congressional Democrats.
Here is House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy at the border this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): It’s more than a crisis. This is a human heartbreak. The sad part about all of this, it didn’t have to happen. This crisis is created by the presidential policies of this new administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Guy, how potent an issue for Republicans to attack President Biden and Democrats?
GUY BENSON, https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__TOWNHALL.COM&d=DwICAg&c=cnx1hdOQtepEQkpermZGwQ&r=tgDLkJy54PfJyWJwul3dKe54qGxqO7b7d5vjo7RcZds&m=dqUnLxMRYeNJlzC5JZMD8RdE325ljV02Aq587gSsv2M&s=unXPf3vXZ__LJaw3VL95fwLcy75rjjWu4UYidgZWr4Q&e = , “THE GUY BENSON SHOW” AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it’s a significant issue and it’s a huge failure from the Biden administration. There’s no question about that. I’m still sort of reeling from your interview with Secretary Mayorkas. He said some unbelievable things, literally, in response to your question, saying that the border is secure. I don’t think anyone actually believes that.
He also, in response to one of your questions, said, there is no connection between this huge spike in illegal immigration and the rhetoric and policies of the Biden administration. That’s insulting. That’s completely ludicrous.
So this is a crisis of the making of the Biden administration. They’re denying the crisis and they’re blaming it on the previous administration, whose succeeding policies in — in some key areas they’ve discarded with no other plan in place. It’s — it’s pretty wild.
WALLACE: Chuck, I want to pick up on that because it is, in fact, the case that the numbers were rising in the final eight, nine months of the Trump administration. But then, as we pointed out in the interview with Secretary Mayorkas, you see the sharp spike in the number of people overall coming across the border, and especially of unaccompanied minors.
Wasn’t it entirely foreseeable that particularly after President Biden relaxed some of these measures, for instance Title 42, allowing non-Mexican minors to come and stay, wasn’t it entirely foreseeable that you would end up with exactly what we see now?
CHARLES LANE, “THE WASHINGTON POST” AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I lived in Central America for three years early in my career, long before social media and cell phones, and I can tell you, even then people in that part of the world were exquisitely aware in great detail of all the factors and changes in policy in the United States that might affect their chances of migrating to this country. So I’m sure that since 2019, when the migration started to be held back by President Trump, they have been watching carefully for any signal that the situation might change to favor migration.
Furthermore, we can’t overlook the push factors. We’ve been talking a lot about the pull factor on the side of the border. The economies in Central America have collapsed under the pressure of the global pandemic and the economic crisis it brought on.
LANE: So surely people would have seen that that in itself would have been a factor stimulating more migration.
WALLACE: Let’s turn to the filibuster and the increasing talk about, if not ending it, certainly reforming it. And there was tough talk on the Senate floor this week.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Today’s filibuster has turned the world’s most deliberative body into one of the world’s most ineffectual bodies.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin — can even begin to imagine what a completely scorched earth Senate would look like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Catherine, I’ve got about a minute left in this segment. How much pressure is President Biden under from the left wing of his party to do something about the filibuster? So beyond budget things that he can pass on a simple majority, he can pass things like immigration reform or gun control or voting rights reform?
LUCEY: Certainly, Chris, there’s a growing call among a lot of Democrats that something should be done to change the filibuster. And I think it was noteworthy that we sought in an interview with the president this week that he indicated he — he could support some changes, like going to a so-called talking filibuster. The fact that we’re hearing that from the president, who really, as you well know, is a creature of the Senate, someone who respects the rules. I think that was very significant. You know, he said during that interview that, you know, democracy is having a hard time functioning. And I think that’s something you might hear more from Democrats in the coming weeks.
WALLACE: Yes. And if you wonder what a talking filibuster is, just go — and there are a lot of reasons to do it — go watch the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” You will see Jimmy Stewart up all night filibustering. That’s what they talk about, a talking filibuster. Now you just say, we’re going to filibuster and everybody goes about their business.
Panel, we have to take a break here.
Up next, President Biden urges Congress to pass hate crime legislation to address rising violence against Asian-Americans after that deadly mass shooting in Atlanta.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For the last year, we’ve had people in positions of incredible power scapegoating Asian- Americans. People with the biggest pulpits spreading this kind of hate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Vice President Harris reacting to the rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans, which has coincided with the COVID pandemic this past year.
And we’re back now with the panel.
Chuck, while there is some question as to whether this specific attack was racially motivated or not, the — one group says that there have been 3,800 hate incidents in the last year, some of them racial slurs, name calling, some of them actual assaults against Asian-Americans.
What do you think is going on here?
LANE: I think something very terrible and disturbing that we all ought to be concerned about is going on.
You know, it shows that even a highly successful group in general, and Asian-Americans are by all sort of economic measures a highly successful group in the United States, can still be a despised group or hated group by some people.
And, you know, it’s a — it’s a situation that’s been very acute in the Bay area recently. There are a number of very disturbing incidents, murders, assaults, particularly of elderly Asian people who are sometimes singled out, stereotyped as people who are vulnerable and easy targets for robbery. There’s a multiplicity of motivations going on and not necessarily every attacker fits the profile of, you know, a white supremacist or a Trump supporter or something like that.
There’s — there’s a real need to gather facts and to take really tough law enforcement action to make sure that this really stops.
WALLACE: Guy, you saw that clip of Vice President Harris at the top of the segment, and a — I think it was pretty clear she was drawing a link between these attacks and President Trump, and especially his talk about the China virus and kung flu.
Do you think that’s fair?
BENSON: I don’t. I think that you’re right to point out that we still don’t have concrete evidence that this horrific massacre in Atlanta had anything to do with race. There were apparently other factors at play. We should gather facts, as Chuck said. We should also condemn unequivocally any violence or racism against any group or people. That should go without saying, but it needs to be said over and over again.
I do sort of wonder what the rules are in terms of what we’re allowed to say or not say when describing where this virus originated. It was in Wuhan, China. We talked about the Brazilian variant. We talk about the U.K. variance. We talk about the South African variant. Talking about the Wuhan flu or the China virus, or what have you, I’m not sure if that’s a direct line between that description and attacks on Asian people.
Of course, that should never happen. There’s no excuse for it ever. I think this seems like a pretty cheap political shot.
WALLACE: Catherine, I want to change subjects.
Still another woman, another woman coming out and accusing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of harassment. And this may be the most damaging accusation yet. You — on the screen, Alyssa McGrath still works in the governor’s office and she backs up the most serious allegation against Cuomo from another woman who still works in the office who says that Cuomo actually groped her.
I guess the question, Catherine, is, when — when does this reach a tipping point for Cuomo and his survival in office?
LUCEY: It’s a real question, Chris. And, you’re right, this is a serious allegation. You know, it’s one of many and it comes from a current aid, which is significant. You know, what we’ve seen from Democrats so far is that, you know, in the state, most Democrats have called for him to resign.
But one thing to look at as we think about a tipping point and what’s next is that polling suggests that a majority of people in the state aren’t looking for the governor to go yet. We had a poll out — there was a poll out this week that said that about half of New York — New York state residents were not looking for that. So I think we have to see how it unfolds within the state still. But we also did hear from President Biden this week with, you know, more detail than we’ve heard from him in the past saying that if an investigation proves that these allegations are true, then the governor should go.
WALLACE: Chuck, I’m going to pick up on that because the governor says I’m going to stand firm and wait for the state attorney general’s report took come out. She’s no particular friend of the governor, so you would figure it’s pretty independent. And while there’s a growing number of top Democratic officials who are calling for Cuomo to resign, you also have some, former Congressman Chuck Rangel, saying he, like every American, deserves due process. So how do you see this playing out? Can he hang on at least until the investigation comes out?
LANE: Well, I know that he’s determined to hang on. He’s been very emphatic that he’s not going to resign. And looking into those — the internals of those poll numbers, what you see is that majorities of Democrats, rank-and- file Democrats, not the political leadership who have been speaking out, don’t think he should be impeached or have to resign. And that’s what he’s banking on, that he can somehow ride this out.
I think from Cuomo’s point of view, and perhaps not inaccurately, he sees this as the result of a big, internal fight that he’s had with the left wing of the Democratic Party going back a long time. I’m not at all suggesting that the allegations are incorrect or politically motivated, but I think that he, when he thinks about his decision to resign or not, does look at it in terms of his own long-standing quarrels with Mayor de Blasio of New York and some of these other folks.
WALLACE: It has been interesting, Guy, you’ve got about 20 seconds here, to see some of these Democrats who Cuomo has ticked off over the years, like de Blasio, sticking the knife in.
BENSON: Yes, they like to see him gone. He is shameless and arrogant. He wants to hang on. And I think it’s not just about these allegations, it’s also about the nursing home scandal and cover-up. That’s the biggest story, I think. And we’re sometimes losing sight of that.
WALLACE: Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday.
Up next, our “Power Player of the Week,” the artist whose virtual creation turned him into an actionable multimillionaire.
WALLACE: It’s a kind of Cinderella story for the modern world of art, a computer programmer who drew a picture a day, wound up etching himself into art history and making millions in the process.
Here’s our “Power Player of the Week.”
MIKE WINKELMANN, GRAPHIC DESIGNER: It’s really an exciting time for — to be a digital artist and just for art history in general.
We’re watching the closing of the auction.
WALLACE (voice over): Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple, on the moment he sold a piece of digital art at auction for a record $69 million.
WINKELMANN: I’m going to Disney World!
WALLACE (on camera): How was it to be watching this auction?
WINKELMANN: It’s was very surreal. It sort of jumped from like 27 million to 50 million. It was literally just like a bomb went off in the room.
WALLACE (voice over): The piece, called “Everydays — The First 5000 Days,” is a collage of images people made every day for 13 years.
WINKELMANN: The 5,000 days covers from May 1, 2007, all the way to January 7, 2021. It’s really something that sort of catalogs both my life over that time and sort of things that have happened in the world over that time.
WALLACE: The images referenced pop culture and politics. And some are pretty weird. And the sale marks a new era in arts. It was sold as what’s called a non-fungible token, or NFT. It’s a virtual collectible, not a physical one.
WALLACE (on camera): What exactly are you buying with an NFT?
WINKELMANN: There’s a bunch of different analogies. Say like an MP3. Like a bunch of people can have copies of the MP3. You know, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” But it’s very different from owning the master recording.
WALLACE: If I can download “Everydays” and put it on my computer —
WALLACE: Or printed it and put a frame around it —
WALLACE: What’s the difference between what I have and what the person with the NFT has?
WINKELMANN: The person with the NFT has the NFT and everybody sort of agrees that that is the person who owns it.
WALLACE (voice over): But for all his talk of virtual assets, people didn’t waste a minute converting his cryptocurrency into cold hard cash.
WINKELMANN: By Friday night, the guy — it’s a guy in Singapore, had the artwork and I had the money. And it was totally done. Open up the — the thing, $55 million in my bank account. Like, boom, done, the next day.
WALLACE: Beeple was already a big name in digital art.
WINKELMANN: I started releasing a bunch of VJ clips, concert visuals and things like that. If you’ve been to like an electronic music, you know, show in the last ten years, you’ve probably seen these clips before. I’m sure you’ve been to a lot of those in the last ten years.
WALLACE (on camera): Why do you laugh when you say that, Beeple? Why do you laugh when you say that? I — I, frankly —
WINKELMANN: I did. When was the last electronic music show you went to?
WALLACE: I’m asking the questions here, not you!
WALLACE (voice over): While Beeple is in the Vanguard of NFT art, he acknowledges some of this will last and some won’t.
WALLACE (on camera): How certain are you that this isn’t a bubble that is just going to burst someday?
WINKELMANN: I absolutely think it’s a bubble, to be quite honest. I go back to the analogy of the beginning of the Internet. There was a bubble. And the bubble burst. And it wiped out a lot of crap. But it didn’t wipe out the Internet. And so the technology itself is strong enough where I think it’s going to outlive that.
WALLACE: Beeple is working on new ways to display his digital art and is still creating one new piece every day.
And that’s it for today. Have a great week and we’ll see you next FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
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