Actor-turned-politician Antonio Sabato Jr. was a recent guest on ABC’s “The View,” where he discussed some of the issues he is focused on during his first congressional bid.
During one portion of the interview, the show’s co-hosts pressed him on the topic of immigration, specifically a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border as proposed by President Donald Trump. Sabato, who was a vocal Trump supporter during the 2016 presidential election, continues to argue for construction of such a wall.
He is currently running as a Republican hoping to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Julia Brownley, a Democrat representing California’s Ventura County and surrounding areas.
In his appearance Thursday on “The View,” co-host Sunny Hostin expressed difficulty understanding why the 45-year-old actor would endorse stricter immigration laws given his own status as an immigrant to the U.S.
“Let me ask you another thing difficult for me to understand,” she said. “We talked about your family having to hide their identity during the Holocaust in Czechoslovakia and we’ve talked about the fact that you came here at 12 years old from Italy speaking no English and this country embraced you.”
She continued by comparing Sabato’s situation to that of the immigrants she said would be prohibited from entering the U.S. under Republican-backed plans for immigration reform.
“You call yourself an immigrant, but you’re in favor of the wall being built, being paid for by the American people and keeping other immigrants out of the country much like yourself,” Hostin said.
Sabato explained that as an American, he is primarily concerned with making sure the needs of his fellow Americans are met.
“The way I see it, I want the American people to be taken care of first,” he said. “I don’t want the American people to take care of everybody else’s problem.”
Following a spattering of applause from the audience, co-host Joy Behar chimed in by suggesting that if American leaders had the same opinion when his family wanted to come to the U.S., he would “still be in Italy.”
Sabato continued his matter-of-fact response, pointing out one major difference between his family’s immigration to America and those he wants to see stopped by a border wall.
“I came here legally,” he said. “We had to wait in line and struggle and save a lot of money.”
He calmly explained that he is in favor of immigration reform that would prioritize those trying to become Americans through the proper channels.
“There’s people like that waiting in line,” he said. “So they deserve their chance.”
He also expressed compassion for men and women brought to the U.S. illegally as children, saying that his preference would be for these individuals to remain in the only country many of them have ever known.
Behar continued her focus on the wall, though, suggesting its construction would be a “waste of money” that does not address other ways individuals illegally enter the country.
“But logically, people who are coming in even legally or illegally are flying in, they’re not jumping over a wall,” she said.
Again, Sabato challenged her assertion.
“We are arresting at the border 1,000 people every single day,” he said. “And there’s probably a lot more coming in.”
Echoing Trump’s campaign rhetoric in favor of the border wall, Sabato said those crossing the border are “bringing a lot of drugs or whatever” with them.
“So, we need to protect the American people,” he said. “That’s all I’m saying.”
He went on to cite Israel as an example of one nation for which a border wall has been successful in increasing national security.
“Mexico has got a wall,” he added. “Why can’t we?”
Behar’s final point on the issue again dealt with the staggering cost, though Sabato suggested the project would help the budget in the long run.
“We spend $100 billion on immigration every year,” he said. “The wall will cost will probably cost less than $20 billion. So, we will save a lot of money.”
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