Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois returned from an Air National Guard deployment — during which he conducted aerial surveillance over Arizona — and agreed with President Donald Trump that there is a crisis at the southern border.
The Republican told CBS “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan on Sunday that based on this experience, he will be voting against a Democrat resolution to rescind Trump’s national emergency declaration on Tuesday.
Brennan first asked Kinzinger if what he saw constituted a national emergency.
“Yeah, I think it does,” the lawmaker responded. “You know, I went down there kind of undecided. You know I put on my lieutenant colonel hat, was apolitical but obviously I’m looking at this, getting the information I can.”
“And I think if this was just an issue of immigration it wouldn’t constitute a national emergency but what I saw was really disturbing.”
The Air Force pilot recounted finding a woman abandoned in the desert by her border trafficking coyotes, while on another mission they assisted in apprehending a person carrying 70 pounds of methamphetamines.
Kinzinger, who was flying his missions out of Tucson, said the situation in Arizona is completely different than what he saw during a prior border deployment in Texas during the Obama administration.
During this deployment, Border Patrol informed him that they find at least 200 dead people a year in the arid, rough terrain.
Brennan pushed Kinzinger on whether there is truly a crisis, saying according to Border Patrol, apprehensions are near a 50-year low.
Kinzinger responded that while the total apprehended may be down, his experience was large numbers were still crossing.
“There were many, many groups that we would see on technology with camera radar or something like that that we could not go address because there were not enough Border Patrol agents,” the congressman said.
“These agents sometimes left to take a truck and then walk two miles through terrible terrain to get to these groups only to have them run while they’re already exhausted and they get lost in that chaos.”
Kinzinger further observed that part of the decrease in illegal crossings outside the ports of entry can be attributed to more migrants learning how to abuse U.S. asylum laws.
“But I’ll tell you what I saw was a lot of people coming over the border, a lot of drugs in the border and a lot of human trafficking,” the congressman reiterated. “I mean these coyotes that would get paid a lot of money to bring groups over and then desert them to save their own backside. It was extremely disturbing.”
Kinzinger contended that he believes Trump’s national emergency declaration is constitutional, and he will be voting against the Democratic resolution to overturn it.
“(B)ecause in this case like I said at the beginning, if this was just about immigration I would disagree,” he stated. “I do think this is a security threat. It’s a security threat with the amount of drugs coming over the border and the human trafficking that I’ve seen.”
A resolution rescinding Trump’s national emergency declaration is expected to pass the Democrat-controlled House on Tuesday.
The fate of similar legislation in the Senate is less certain, where the Republicans hold a 53 to 47 advantage.
GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine have indicated they would back Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s resolution, NBC News reported.
Several other Republican senators have expressed reservations about the president’s emergency declaration, including Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, John Cornyn of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Marco Rubio of Florida.
For the measure to pass, two more Republican senators must back the Democrat resolution.
In addition to the $1.375 billion Congress voted to authorize for barrier funding, the White House plans to redirect $3.6 billion from a military construction fund, $2.5 billion from a Department of Defense drug interdiction program and $600 million from the Treasury Department from a drug forfeiture fund.
The national emergency is specifically being used to tap the $3.6 billion from the military construction fund.
Trump tweeted on Monday, “I hope our great Republican Senators don’t get led down the path of weak and ineffective Border Security. Without strong Borders, we don’t have a Country – and the voters are on board with us. Be strong and smart, don’t fall into the Democrats “trap” of Open Borders and Crime!”
I hope our great Republican Senators don’t get led down the path of weak and ineffective Border Security. Without strong Borders, we don’t have a Country – and the voters are on board with us. Be strong and smart, don’t fall into the Democrats “trap” of Open Borders and Crime!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2019
He added in a second tweet quoting from Fox Business Network’s Stuart Varney: “Why on earth would any Republican vote not to put up a Wall or against Border Security. Please explain that to me?”
If the resolution passes both the Senate and the House, Trump has the veto power, which would require a two-thirds vote in both chambers to override him.
Politico reported that Trump expressed confidence on Friday if he vetoed the measure, it would not be overridden.
“We have too many smart people that want border security so I can’t imagine it (the resolution) will survive a veto,” Trump said.
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