Jen Psaki: Border is ‘closed,’ CBP turning away adult migrants




This is a rush transcript from “Fox News Sunday,” March 28, 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 tries to keep the country focused on the pandemic, but new crises keep intruding.

 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

 

JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When an unaccompanied child ends up at the border, we’re just going to let him starve to death and stay in the other side? I’m not going to do it.

 

WALLACE (voice-over): From the situation on the southern border with Mexico, to back-to-back mass shootings that have reignited the nation’s debate over guns, the president has to deal with new challenges and signals he’s open to big changes in the Senate to push through his agenda.

 

BIDEN: Our preoccupation with the filibuster is totally legitimate.

 

WALLACE: We’ll discuss Mr. Biden’s next steps with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, then get reaction from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

 

Psaki and Graham, only on “FOX News Sunday”.

 

Plus, Georgia approves sweeping new rules for how its elections are run and braces for legal challenges.

 

BIDEN: What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick.

 

WALLACE: We’ll ask our Sunday panel about the battle over voting rights.

 

And our “Power Players of the Week,” the real people behind those cardboard fans in the stands.

 

All, right now, on “FOX News Sunday”.

 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

 

(MUSIC)

 

WALLACE (on camera): And hello again from FOX News in Washington.

 

Joe Biden talked at his conference this week about how successful presidents know how to roll out their agenda, to prioritize what issues to push and in what order. That’s what he’s tried to do his first two months in office, keep the focus on the pandemic, both the public health crisis and the impact on the economy.

 

But now, other issues are demanding attention — the crisis at the border, two mass shootings, and the battle over voting rights. And like all presidents, Mr. Biden has to respond.

 

In a moment, we’ll sit down with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, but first, let’s turn to Mark Meredith, traveling with the president in Wilmington, Delaware — Mark.

 

MARK MEREDITH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Chris, this week, President Biden will lay out a new economic agenda for the country with a major focus expected to be on infrastructure, but the White House faces plenty of other issues which have the potential to derail the president’s plan.

 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

 

MEREDITH (voice-over): President Biden will travel to Pittsburgh Wednesday to urge lawmakers to spend trillions of dollars rebuilding America’s roads, bridges, and airports.

 

BIDEN: We ranked 13th globally in infrastructure. China is investing three times more infrastructure than the United States is.

 

MEREDITH: To play for his plans, the president is expected to call for tax hikes on corporations and wealthier Americans.

 

Republicans are already revolting.

 

SEN. ROGER MARSHALL (R-KS): They should call this a grab your wallet bill or this is going to be to raise your taxes bill?

 

MEREDITH: Instead of infrastructure, some people want the president to spend more time focusing on the border where a surge of migrants is overwhelming government resources.

 

SEN. DAN SULLIVAN (R-AK): They need to come down here, they need to listen, and they need to learn.

 

MEREDITH: The White House says it’s working on a better border strategy, the president tasking the vice president to lead the effort.

 

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Mr. President, and for having the confidence in me, and there’s no question that this is a challenging situation.

 

MEREDITH: But more challenges remain ahead. Many parents are fed up with continuing school closures, North Korea is testing more rockets, and the gun control debate is back after deadly massacres in Georgia and Colorado.

 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

 

MEREDITH (on camera): One bright spot, the administration is doubling its goal for the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine. It now hopes to have 200 million doses distributed by the end of April, right around the time the president is set to mark 100 days in office — Chris.

 

WALLACE: Mark Meredith reporting from Delaware — Mark, thank you.

 

And joining us now, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

 

Jen, welcome back to “FOX News Sunday”.

 

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Great to be here, Chris.

 

WALLACE: Let’s start with the crisis on the border and what President Biden had to say about that this past week. On the surge of illegal immigration across the board, Mr. Biden said this: Nothing has changed. It happens every year.

 

But your own secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, says: We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border then we have in the last 20 years.

 

So, who’s wrong? The DHS secretary or the president?

 

PSAKI: Well, Chris, first, factually, there was an increase of about 31 percent of people coming to the border during the final months of the Trump administration. There’s been about a 29 percent increase since President Biden took office.

 

But our focus is on solutions. This past week we reopen — or we opened I should say several facilities that will provide almost 7,000 beds so that we can move these children from the Border Patrol facilities into shelters. We’ve also taken steps to expedite processing at the border.

 

The border remains closed. It is not open, we are turning away the majority of adults but what we’re really talking about here is children and how we’re handling that in the safest and most humane capacity.

 

WALLACE: You know, you can play with percentages, but in absolute numbers, these are record numbers. There are now 18,000 unaccompanied minors in U.S. custody. There are new records being set, 500 to 800 each day.

 

PSAKI: Well, Chris, our objective is to take a different approach from the last of administration. We are not going to send children under the age of 18, kids under the age of 18, back on this treacherous journey. They are fleeing challenging economic circumstances, hurricanes, prosecution in some scenarios.

 

It does not mean that they get to stay in the United States. It means their cases are adjudicated and we want to treat them humanely, make sure they are in a safe place while their cases are adjudicated. That’s what we’re talking about here.

 

WALLACE: The president and you have both been in pains over these first two months to talk about how to pledge that you’re going to be transparent with the American people. But here’s what he said in his news conference about allowing reporters in to see specifically the facilities that are being run by Customs and Border Patrol.

 

Take a look.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is being set up and you have full access to everything once we get this thing moving.

 

REPORTER: Just to be clear, how soon will that be, Mr. President?

 

BIDEN: I don’t know.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WALLACE: The only way we know how bad conditions are for some 5,000 minors in his Border Patrol facilities is because of these pictures that members of Congress have released on their own.

 

Jen, these kids are living in these conditions now. They’re not living in these conditions some indeterminate time from now when the president says everything will be fixed.

 

So why not allow reporters and camera crews in on a pool basis safely to take pictures and show the American people what’s happening in those Border Patrol facilities right now?

 

PSAKI: Chris, we’re absolutely committed to that, the president is committed to that, I’m committed to that, Secretary Mayorkas is committed to that.

 

Just last week, we had a pool camera —

 

WALLACE: When?

 

PSAKI: — including — allowing — providing footage to FOX News just last week into the shelters.

 

We want to provide access into the Border Patrol facilities. We are mindful of the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic. We want to keep these kids safe, keep the staff safe.

 

But we — we are absolutely committed to transparency and providing access to media to the Border Patrol facilities and we’re working to get that done as soon as we can.

 

WALLACE: But just to clarify, Jen, you allowed a camera crew in to see the HHS facilities. What we’re talking about here —  

 

PSAKI: Uh-huh.

 

WALLACE: — are the Border Patrol facilities, the detention cells, you know —  

 

PSAKI: I —  

 

WALLACE: — there is a law — let me just finish — that they are not allowed to be there for more than 72 hours, many of them are there for ten days.

 

At this point, in terms of allowing access to Border Patrol facilities for reporters, you are being less transparent than the Trump administration.

 

PSAKI: Well, first of all, Chris, the Trump administration was turning away kids at the border, sending them back on the treacherous journey, or they were ripping kids from the arms of their parents.

 

We’re not doing that. We are committed to allowing cameras into the Border Patrol facilities, absolutely.

 

I would also say we are committed to solutions. That’s why I noted that we reopened or opened three facilities that have almost 7,000 beds to allow for processing these kids more quickly out of the Border Patrol facilities. We absolutely agree these are not places for children and our focus is on solutions and moving them as quickly as possible.

 

We’re also making sure we are processing kids more quickly at the border. Some of these kids come with a phone number and a pocket. It might be of a parent. We want to make sure we are breaking through the red tape and getting them to their parents as quickly as possible.

 

WALLACE: Let me switch subjects with you. The president has come out strongly for the voting rights bill that has passed the House and is now being deliberated by the Senate.

 

But look at some of the things that are in HR-1, the House voting rights bill. It creates public financing of congressional campaigns. It takes redistricting away from state legislatures and it opens the door to D.C. becoming a state.

 

Now, you can argue whether these are good ideas or bad ideas, but to get bipartisan agreement, to get compromise with Republicans, would the president consider supporting taking some of those elements out and focusing just on voting rights?

 

PSAKI: Well, the president is absolutely open to the idea from Republicans, from Democrats, to make any piece of legislation better and stronger. But what is not going to allow for its efforts to make it more difficult and harder to vote and efforts to do that, people should question whether they have — why they would be doing that? If they have the best ideas, they should make it easier for people to vote. But you know, this is the process of a bill becoming a law —  

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

PSAKI: Chris, if Republicans want to come to the table have a discussion about what kind of package they can support to make voting more easy, easier and more success accessible, the president is absolutely open to having that discussion.

 

WALLACE: Some Democrats are urging the president to push to kill the Senate filibuster in order to pass legislation to protect voting rights. Here’s what the president said about that this week.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

BIDEN: If there’s complete lockdown and chaos as a consequence of the filibuster, then we’ll have to go beyond what I’m talking about.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WALLACE: But, while the president says that the filibuster is a relic of the Jim Crow era, here’s what Joe Biden said when he was in the Senate himself. Take a look.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

BIDEN: At its core, the filibuster is not about stopping a nominee or a bill. It’s about compromise and moderation.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WALLACE: And just last year, Kamala Harris, when she was in the Senate, led the filibuster against Republican Senator Tim Scott, an African- American, his plan for police reform.

 

So, is the filibuster racist? Is it wrong?

 

PSAKI: As the president said just last week, Chris, it’s been abused, and in the first 50 years of the filibuster being around, it was used about 50 times. It was used five times that many last year. The president doesn’t think that’s how the filibuster should be used.

 

There’s an easy solution here, though, which the president would certainly advocate for, which is Democrats and Republicans, Republicans coming to the table with a willingness and an openness to discussing how we get things done. They want to come the table and talk about how to make voting easier, more accessible, let’s have that conversation. The president is eager to have it.

 

He’s not eager to move with destroying the filibuster. He’s eager to get things done for the American people, but he’s also not going to stand by and prevent forward moving progress from happening. So that’s what people heard from him last week.

 

WALLACE: I just want to point out, because some people noted it after the news conference, if you’re talking about abuse of the filibuster over the last two years, the Democrats were in the minority, so they were the ones abusing it.

 

I agree, it’s been used by both parties.

 

I want to move on to the mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, Colorado, in the last couple of weeks, and since then, there has been a new push for gun controls.

 

But Mr. Biden said, and I mentioned it at the top of the program, that one of the keys to being a successful president is understanding how to prioritize your agenda.

 

Take a look.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

BIDEN: The other problems we’re talking about from immigration to guns and the other things you mentioned are long-term problems. They’ve been around a long time.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WALLACE: Some gun control and immigration advocates are — pushed back on that and said, it sounds like the president is saying these are long-term problems, wait your turn.

 

PSAKI: Well, first, the president has been an advocate for gun safety measures throughout his career. He helped pass the Brady Bill into law, increasing background checks when he was in the Senate. He helped get an assault weapons ban in place. He led the effort in the Obama-Biden administration to put in place a dozen — two dozen executive actions when bipartisan legislation failed.

 

He’s not new to this issue. It’s an issue he will continue to advocate for.

 

And, Chris, 90 percent of the public supports universal background checks. That’s something the Senate should be able to move forward on and that the president will continue to push for.

 

He knows that as president, you’ve got to walk and chew gum. You got to do multiple things at the same time and he’s ready to do that.

 

WALLACE: Finally, as we said at the top of the program, the president is going to lay out his — the next part of his economic recovery program in a speech in Pittsburgh this week, including infrastructure, education, child care, a number of issues.

 

Is that going to be just one huge bill, or is it going to be split up into two parts? And how big is the total price tag going to be?

 

PSAKI: Well, first, Chris, when the president advocated for the American Rescue Plan, he talked about this being two stages: rescue and then recovery. What the American people will hear from him this week is that part of his plan, the first step of his plan towards recovery which will include an investment in infrastructure, we shouldn’t be 13th in the world, I don’t think anyone believes that the wealthiest, most innovative country in the world.

 

And he’s going to have more to say later in April about the second part of his recovery plan, which will include a number of the pieces you talked about — health care, child care, addressing that. It’s a crisis right now. The number of women who have left the workforce, he wants to help to address that.

 

The total package we’re still working out, but he’s going to introduce some ways to pay for that, and he’s eager to hear ideas from both parties as well.

 

WALLACE: So, are we talking about two separate bills? And if so, just briefly, because we’re out of time, is he hoping that infrastructure he can get past with Republican votes, and then he sticks what we’re hearing is going to be $2 trillion in tax cuts in the second package, and then pass that through reconciliation on a straight Democratic Party line vote?

 

PSAKI: Well, we’re not quite at the legislative strategy yet, Chris, but I will say that I don’t think Republicans in this country think we should be 13th in the world as it relates to infrastructure. Roads, railways, rebuilding them, that’s not a partisan issue. That’s a lot of what the president will talk about this Wednesday.

 

Then he will have another package, another proposal that he will put forward in just a couple of weeks that will address a lot of issues that American people are struggling with — child care, the cost of health care. So that’s what they can expect to hear from him in April.

 

WALLACE: But just to lock down, two separate bills, correct?

 

PSAKI: Two separate proposals and we’ll work with the Senate and the House to see how it should move forward.

 

WALLACE: Jen, thank you. Thanks for your time this weekend. Please come back.

 

PSAKI: Thank you, Chris. My pleasure. Thank you.

 

WALLACE: Up next, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham just back from a trip to our southern border. How does he think we should handle the surge in illegal immigration?

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

WALLACE: President Biden says he makes no apologies for rolling back some of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

 

And joining us now from South Carolina, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is just back from a trip to the U.S. border with Mexico.

 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Yes.

 

WALLACE: Senator, you were part of a delegation of Republican senators that went down to the border on Friday. How serious is the surge of people illegally across the border, especially of these unaccompanied minors, and what can you tell us about the conditions for those minors, especially the ones being held in Border Patrol facilities?

 

GRAHAM: Well, number one, you’ve got a facility designed for 80 kids with about a thousand in it, so that’s pretty bad. He needs to apologize, President Biden, to the Border Patrol agents and their families for putting them through this. We’re being overwhelmed with the border. It’s not a crisis, it’s a complete loss of sovereignty down there.

 

I’ve been twice, in the last two months, and here’s what I learned this time that was different than last time. I had a two star Border Patrol supervisor tell me that they briefed the Biden transition team that if you do away with the Remaining in Mexico policy, where people have to wait in Mexico for their court date regarding asylum, we’ll be overwhelmed. If you change the policy regarding unaccompanied minors, we will be overwhelmed. They were told this. They did it anyway.

 

And the description I heard by the press secretary about the border reminded me a lot of what Baghdad Bob was saying about the Iraqi War. She needs to go down there. These facilities are being overrun. Ten percent of the people are COVID positive, the — the — the children, and they’re very intermingled and Border Patrol agents and their families are American heroes.

 

WALLACE: Right.

 

Senator, you say that the Biden policies are a magnet for illegal immigration./

 

GRAHAM: Yes.

 

WALLACE: But I want to ask you about a bill that you are proposing. The Secure and Protect Act would mandate asylum claims from the northern triangle countries must be filed there in those countries or Mexico, not in the U.S.

 

GRAHAM: Right.

 

WALLACE: But it also says if families cross the border seeking asylum, which would be illegal, they can stay together for 100 days, not 20.

 

GRAHAM: Right.

 

WALLACE: I can understand the humanitarian instinct behind that, but wouldn’t that also be a magnet for illegal immigration?

 

GRAHAM: No, because I wrote this bill with input from the Border Patrol people, the agents and customs folks. They said, under our current law, you can hold an unaccompanied — a minor for 20 days. So we want to keep families together, not separate them. They told me if they had 100 days with additional judges, they could render verdicts in the asylum claims and never let the families go.

 

What she said is very — is going to make the problem worse, in your last interview. She said that any unaccompanied minor that comes with a phone number, we’re going to call the parents who are here in this country legally and reunite the family. So we’re going to have a flood based on this interview.

 

All these kids have numbers on their wrist. Well, they already have parents or family members here illegally. Now we’re going to reunite them. We’re not going to turn 18-year-olds away.

 

Well, Jeh Johnson, during the Obama administration, was on a plane sending unaccompanied minors back to their home country.

 

You need to do two things. You need to make sure nobody is released until their case is adjudicated in the United States, you should keep them in Mexico or their home country, and you should be turning every unaccompanied minor away after they’ve been tested for human trafficking abuse back to their home country and it will stop this. If you don’t, we’ll have 150,000 a month by this summer.

 

WALLACE: Senator, I want to change subjects on you — on you.

 

President Biden has come down hard on Republican legislators in traditionally red states voting to restrict voting rights.

 

Take a look at what he said in his news conference.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick. It’s sick.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WALLACE: Senator, are Republicans going too far in some of these various states?

 

GRAHAM: You know what’s sick is have the president of the United States to play the race card continuously in such a hypocritical way. He said the filibuster was a relic of the Jim Crow era. Well, he made an hour speech when he was a senator suggesting the filibuster was the best thing for the Senate to make it different in the House.

 

This is a letter signed by 61 senators in 2017, when we had the House, the Senate, and the White House, 27 Democrats saying please keep in place the filibuster.

 

What’s sick is HR 1, federalizing state elections. In our Constitution, states are supposed to run elections. H.R. 1 is the biggest power grab in the history of the country. It institutionalizes ballot harvesting. It does away with the voter ID requirement. It will take over every election in every state. It makes the Federal Election Commission a partisan commission. It will no longer be bipartisan. So that’s the power grab we’re standing up to.

 

To my friends in Georgia, they had the highest turnout in the history of Georgia. We had 150 million something people vote. So every time a Republican does anything, we’re a racist. If you’re a white conservative, you’re a racist. If you’re a black Republican, you’re either a prop or Uncle Tom. They use the racism card to advance a liberalism agenda and we’re tired of it. H.R. 1 is sick, not what they’re doing in Georgia.

 

WALLACE: All right, well, let’s take a look at some of the provisions in Georgia. And — and these are specific ones that a lot of people are having heartburn about, Senator.

 

It would limit the number and location of drop boxes.

 

GRAHAM: Good.

 

WALLACE: It allows counties to cut off early voting at 5:00 p.m., before a lot of working people get off and could go vote.

 

And this is the one that I think is creating the biggest fuss, it prohibits, it makes it a crime to give food or drink to voters waiting in line.

 

Senator, why on earth, if Americans are willing to wait in hours to vote, would you make it a crime for people to come and give them a bottle water?

 

GRAHAM: Well, we — all I can say is that that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I agree with you there.

 

But, in Georgia, you had an explosion of mail-in balloting. The Carter- Baker Commission in 2005 looked at our election system and they had two warnings for us. Absentee mail voting is ripe for fraud and ballot harvesting where an individual can collect ballots on behalf of other people is a threat to democracy as we know it. Both of those provisions are in H.R. 1. So if you don’t like what they’re doing in Georgia, you can go to court and stop them. But what they’re doing with H.R. 1 is destroying the ability of any state to run elections, doing away with voter idea, changing the Federal Election Commission to make it partisan and institutionalizing national ballot harvesting, which would be a disaster to our elections.

 

WALLACE: New subject.

 

After the terrible mass shootings over the last two weeks, President Biden has made it clear, and –and Democrats have made it clear there’s going to be a new push for gun legislation.

 

Here was your reaction to that along with the reaction from Vice President Harris.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GRAHAM: Every time there’s a tragic shooting in this country, the left uses it as a reason to grab a gun of a lawful gun owner.

 

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Stop pushing the false choice that this means everybody’s trying to come after you guns. That is not what we’re talking about.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WALLACE: Senator, first of all, the two bills that the House has passed, that the Senate is now considering, have to do with background checks. They wouldn’t take away your guns. And what’s wrong with a serious debate after all of these shootings about assault weapons and especially about large capacity magazines, which a lot of studies show contribute to these mass killings?

 

GRAHAM: There’s nothing wrong about debates. As a matter fact, I would challenge Senator Schumer to bring the assault weapons ban to the floor of the United States Senate. It won’t get 50 votes, much less 60.

 

I own an AR-15. If there’s a natural disaster in South Carolina where the cops can’t protect my neighborhood, my house will be the last one that the gang will come to because I can defend myself. You don’t have to have an AR-15, but if you have one lawfully, I think you should be allowed to keep it.

 

Most of these problems have a — have a lot to do with mental health. Count me in for addressing that issue. Red flag laws exist in 19 states. There are some things we can do. But at the end of the day, if you think an assault weapons ban is what the country needs, bring it to the floor of the United States Senate and vote on it. I welcome that debate.

 

WALLACE: Well, let me ask you about — let me ask you about that, Senator, I’ve got about a minute left.

 

GRAHAM: OK.

 

WALLACE: You are pushing a red flag bill and the idea would be if you’ve been adjudicated as being a danger to yourself or other people, then they can take away your gun. But, as you know, there are some gun rights groups — or gun rights groups that disagree with that and say that you’re doing away with people’s due process.

 

GRAHAM: Yes, they did.

 

WALLACE: And I guess that’s the question, is — it seems like there’s no possibility for any reform.

 

GRAHAM: Well, I think there is. There’s a million people who have been adjudicated a danger to themselves or others at state court levels and the adjudications are not in the backroom system.

 

Alice Bolton (ph) was a person that was found not guilty by reason of insanity of trying to threaten President Bush. Her adjudication was not in the background system. She bought a gun and tried to kill people at a local school.

 

I think most people would like to have these adjudications into the system and any red flag law has to have ample and robust due process. So count me in for dealing with the mental health aspects of this. Count me in for trying to have common sense background checks to get the best information into the system. And if you fail a background check, count me in for telling the local cops that the individual failed it. But, you know, an assault weapons ban, bring it up, let’s vote on it.

 

WALLACE: Senator Graham, thank you. Thanks for joining us. Always good to talk with you, sir.

 

GRAHAM: Thank you.

 

WALLACE: Up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to discuss the fate of the Senate filibuster.

 

But first, as we noted last week, next month marks the 25th anniversary of FOX NEWS SUNDAY. And ahead of that we’re bringing you some memorable moments from this program’s history.

 

If you watch often, you know sometimes things get tense here.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: It was not acceptable. And so he’s right, I was wrong.

 

WALLACE: But you make it sound like you’re a bystander, an eyewitness. You were the director of the FBI while a lot of this was going on, sir.

 

Do feel comfortable throwing out millions of votes of your fellow Americans?

 

Let me just ask the question, if I may, and then —

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, go ahead, I’m sorry.

 

WALLACE: OK. But — well, no, I haven’t. I’ll — there will be a question mark at the end.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

WALLACE: Coming up, President Biden calls on Congress to tighten gun controls in the wake of two mass shootings.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): We have another epidemic in America called guns.

 

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): When you disarm law-abiding citizens, you make them more likely to be victims.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WALLACE: We’ll ask our Sunday panel if any of the measures have the votes to pass, next.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: An unaccompanied child ends up at the border, we’re just going to let them starve to death and stay on the other side. No previous administration did that either, except Trump. I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to do it.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WALLACE: President Biden defending his administration policy of allowing unaccompanied minors from the northern triangle countries to stay in the U.S.

 

And it’s time now for our Sunday group. Senator Mitch McConnell’s former chief of staff, Josh Holmes, “FOX NEWS AT NIGHT” anchor Shannon Bream, also author of the new book “The Women of the Bible Speak,” former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford Jr.

 

Shannon, I think it’s fair to say the president flatly misstated what the Trump policy was for minors coming from Central America, far from letting them starve in the desert. The Trump policy was to charter repatriation flights and send them back to their home countries.

 

SHANNON BREAM, FOX CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT AND “FOX NEWS AT NIGHT “ANCHOR: Yes, and I think it’s important for the president to be very careful with the language that they use in talking about the border because there are going to be those who look and easily find misstatements like that one.

 

Jen Psaki told you earlier that the majority of adults are being turned around. Well, that can be true, but also this is true, the vast majority of family units or children who are showing up alone are not being turned away. That’s according to numbers from the Border Patrol and from Health and Human Services. So those are coming from federal agencies and I think the White House, the president in particular, has to be very careful about the language he uses, the stats he cites, because so many of the things he said in his press conference the other day were demonstrably false. And if this mainstream media had been about the former president and his veracity, you don’t want to give the current media any — any questions about what President Biden is now saying and being truthful and accurate about the border situation.

 

WALLACE: Congressman, the president, whether in some cases he was right or sometimes he was misstating facts, blamed a lot, maybe all of the current problem now on the Trump administration. But, in fact, didn’t President Biden contribute to this by changing a number of policies in the first days of his administration, especially allowing unaccompanied minors from Central America to stay in the country?

 

And, secondly, what do you think on this issue of transparency about the administration’s continued refusal, as we heard today from Jen Psaki, to allow reporters in to see what the conditions are for minors in these Border Patrol facilities?

 

HAROLD FORD, JR., FORMER CONGRESSMAN (D-TN) AND EMPOWERMENT AND INCLUSION CAPITAL CEO: Well, first off, thanks for having me and Happy Palm Sunday and Happy Passover.

 

There’s no doubt there was a misstating early on from the outset, not calling it or not figuring out the right wording to describe what was happening and even the words around how policy might change.

 

I do think, in fairness to — to President Biden, that this issue at our border has predated him, predated his predecessor and predecessors before him. It’s important to note, it’s been 35 years since we’ve had a broad immigration reform bill. And the last time a president recognized that our hemisphere deserved more attention and the retargeted economic and developed aid it was under President Kennedy.

 

Considering the fact that we spent billions, rightly so, to stabilize the Middle East, I think this administration will — will — will have to reckon with and hopefully be able to work with Republicans and Democrats to figure out some way to help stabilize our hemisphere here.

 

I’m not a believer that separating families. And I was pleased to hear my old friend Senator Graham say that separating families is (ph) the right thing to do. I also believe we have to secure the border. And Democrats will have to come around on that full throttle.

 

But I also believe that a different approach, not just trying to score cheap political points every six months or every two years, that can’t be the policy going forward.

 

WALLACE: Josh, let’s turn to your old home base, the U.S. Senate. Quite a debate, increasing debate, over what — about the filibuster, which this week President Biden called a relic of the Jim Crow era.

 

Take a look.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It’s been abused from the time it came into being by an extreme way in the last 20 years. Let’s deal with the abuse first.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WALLACE: Look, I understand that the concern of somebody like Lindsey Graham, and I’m sure of you, saying that this is somehow racist, Democrats have used it as much as Republicans have, that’s not the real issue.

 

The real issue is, has the filibuster gotten out of control? It seems like it’s impossible now to pass any serious legislation without 60 votes, which makes it almost impossible in these polarized times.

 

JOSH HOLMES, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDING PARTNER OF CAVALRY AND CO-HOST, “RUTHLESS” PODCAST: Yes, Chris, I just fundamentally disagree with that. I mean if you look back to last year, you saw things like the CARES Act, the largest rescue program in the history of the country, pass with 90 plus votes. It went through several filibusters by Democrats before it ultimately became law. I think Democrats would argue in that sense it moderated and became more bipartisan. Yet now here we are.

 

What it is, is despicable hypocrisy is what it is. When Democrats were in the minority, they had absolutely no problem utilizing the filibuster throughout the Trump administration. In fact, I got a lot of humor out of Jen Psaki telling you about the filibuster stats, all of which were Democrats using it against President Trump and Republicans, most notably blocking Tim Scott’s police reform bill.

 

So this — this is not about reforming or making law or finding some bipartisan middle or even improving lives of Americans. What it’s about is a partisan power play to try to implement election procedures that favor Democrats, to implement more states into the unions that are Democratic senators. That is the whole substance of what Democrats are trying to accomplish here.

 

WALLACE: But — but, Congressman, you know, I can think of a lot of issues. It — you know, it wasn’t that hard to pass the CARES Act in the middle of a pandemic. When you talk about tough issues, like immigration reform or entitlement reform or whether to do something about guns, and I could go on and on, our country, our Congress, particularly the Senate, seems unable to deal with it. Is there a middle ground here so that bills don’t go to die in the U.S. Senate?

 

FORD: I sincerely hope so. It’s amazing, when you think about background checks, which you raised with Senator Graham, 90 percent of Americans support that. You can’t find 90 percent of Americans who support world peace or taking a vaccine. You would think that the Senate and the Congress could find some common ground there.

 

Look, my old friend Josh knows that traditions in the Senate can be — can be violated and broken temporarily. Merrick Garland, who was denied a hearing before the U.S. Senate, is now the attorney general and Justice Barrett is a justice. That tradition was broken and changed. I hope they don’t have to change the filibuster. I’m a believer that more votes always secures not only better policy but sustainable policy. So hopefully they can find a set of solutions or a solution to not only voting rights, but infrastructure and others, but I hope and pray that my friend Joe Biden understands that as much as he should respect the filibuster, elections have outcomes. And I think the country will have an opportunity to weigh in, in a year and a half or so and see if Democrats have done right or if Democrats of done wrong by either voting them back into office or voting more Republicans into office.

 

WALLACE: Right.

 

All right, panel, we have to take a break here. But when we come back, the growing divide across the country over how our elections should be run.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We’re going to hear that this bill, gasp, register Americans to vote, is a democratic power grab.

 

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): This is clearly an effort by one party to rewrite the rules of our political system.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

WALLACE: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell with very different interpretations of the massive voting rights bill that Democrats are pushing.

 

And we’re back now with the panel.

 

Shannon, as you know, I talked with both Jen Psaki and with Senator Graham about the push for voting rights, both on the federal level and also bills that are passing at the state level. It seems that after all the controversy over the 2020 election, that neither side wants to be at a disadvantage in the 2022 midterms.

 

BREAM: Yes, these federal and state measures couldn’t be more different. They’re on a bit of a collision course with each other as — and both sides are working hard to get them passed.

 

But one thing we see that the — is a big question about H.R. 1 is that critics are saying, why would you supersede state laws? Why are you going to do things like, say, states cannot require voter ID for an absentee ballot? That’s something that across ideological and all kinds of different backgrounds and different lines, people say Americans, well — 70 plus percentage points of them say that they actually support voter ID. They want to know that their vote isn’t being disenfranchised in some way. So there are some common questions about why you would take that step.

 

The Constitution, as we know, clearly gives states the rights to decide how they’re going to run their election. So critics of H.R. 1 are going to say, the federal government is overstepping its boundaries and no matter what it’s going to end up in court if it passes.

 

WALLACE: Congressman, I’d like you to answer that, the question of federal interference in state elections. But having said that, also some of these state laws, the first one being passed in Georgia, which, as we talked about with Senator Graham, includes making it a crime to give somebody waiting in line for hours to vote a bottle of water. When you look at that, do you see voter suppression?

 

FORD: Sure. There are obvious flaws. In fact, I go — and in Georgia law that I can’t quite figure out after this Georgia secretary of state required two audits of the last election and found no evidence of voter fraud or irregularity, what would cause the governor and the state legislature to do what they did. They’ll have to answer that to the voters there.

 

I agree with Shannon, there should be voter ID. There should be identification for voters. But I would also add, we should expand the number of voting locations, we should expand the ease in which it comes with trying to get registered to vote and we should probably make voting day a national holiday.

 

I remember the party of Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan, who believed that better ideas, not voter suppression, would advantage you at the polls. This Republican effort in Georgia, I hope it’s stopped, and I’m not convinced that what the Democrats want to do with H.R. 1 should be the law of the land fully. But I certainly like the thrust in the direction that’s headed in as opposed to what happened in Georgia.

 

WALLACE: Josh, we saw at the top of this segment the two Senate leaders, Schumer and McConnell, squaring off in a committee debate, which happens very, very seldom, which raises the question, just how high are the stakes for both sides after 2020 and a lot of the issues about voting there when it comes to looking forward to what the rules are going to be for 2022?

 

HOMES: Well, I mean, it’s incredibly high. It’s literally the difference between whether elections are competitive or not. You know, I hate that we have to continue to pretend that this is about voting rights. Making the Federal Election Commission a partisan panel, turning it into a prosecutor rather than a jury is nothing to do with voting rights. Making an election system entirely reliant on public taxpayer funding again has nothing to do with voting rights.

 

All of these things the Democrats are trying to accomplish in the context of this H.R. 1 bill are just to advantage them at the polls. It has nothing to do with expanding access. As to Georgia, Chris, the one piece that I would emphasize, because I’ve heard it a couple times on this program, that the idea that they’ve criminalized giving people bottles of water. They have not. What is in the statute, what is absolutely clear, is that they’re preventing political organizations from giving people in line things, meals, water, what have you. Water is and should be provided at the polls for people who are standing in line. We need to be very careful about what we’re talking about here because Democrats have entirely misrepresented what’s happened.

 

WALLACE: Well, wait a minute, Josh. In fact, it does say that it bans providing water or food to people at the polls. Why would that be? I mean, I — I know one of the arguments is, well, if people are at the polls, then an advocacy group can go in — it’s like you’re near the election line and you’re able to — to election near them. My gosh, people have been driving people to the polls of both parties for years. In a lot of African-American communities, the polls are — the lines are longer because there are not enough polls in those communities. Are you really suggesting that it should be wrong to provide water or drinks to people waiting in line to exercise a democratic franchise?

 

HOLMES: No, I’m not. What I’m suggesting is wrong is to suggest that the law does that. What it does —

 

WALLACE: Well, that’s what the law says, Josh.

 

HOLMES: It — it —

 

WALLACE: That’s what the law says, Josh.

 

HOLMES: It — it doesn’t.

 

WALLACE: Yes, it does.

 

HOLMES: Chris, it very specifically says that it can’t be provided by political entities seeking to — to — one way or another influence an outcome of a vote. And I think there’s a significant difference between that. You talk about people getting rides to the polls. Absolutely. It’s their choice to do that.

 

WALLACE: What’s a political entity? A person with a t-shirt?

 

HOLMES: When you’re standing in —

 

WALLACE: A person with a union t-shirt? A person with a gun rights t-shirt?

 

HOLMES: Well, it — well, I think what you saw in Georgia, and many other states, were examples of organizations that were funded to the hilt by dark money from liberal — liberal entities across the country attempting to try to intimidate, or at least — at least provide some presence at the polls.

 

Now, you can argue whether that’s the worst thing in the world. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. But there are states — like six or seven states currently that we’re not talking about that already have that on the books.

 

WALLACE: Congressman, your response to that?

 

FORD: Well, the law, I think, clearly states what — what you stated, Chris. I would hope that if someone’s grandson or niece decides to show up to bring them a soda pop or sandwich that they’re not arrested.

 

Look, again, I retreat to where I was a minute ago.

 

HOLMES: No one says —

 

FORD: I think politics is better served — is that politics is better served when ideas and not efforts to restrict or constrain the rights of anyone to go out and vote. I was in politics. I wish I’d gotten a few more votes the last time I ran in Tennessee for senate. But I didn’t complain that somehow another voter — that there were too many people, too few people voted. I just didn’t have enough good ideas. Republicans should retreat, come up with better ideas and you’ll have a better chance of winning.

 

WALLACE: One of the other specific things, Josh, that this bill does, is it says that counties can cut off voting, for instance, at 5:00 p.m. So if you’re a working person who’s getting off your shift, the county can cut off early voting at 5:00 p.m., makes it impossible for you to go vote. It also limits the number of — of drop off boxes. You know, I voted in the last election in drop off boxes. I actually think making it easier for me to vote is a good thing.

 

HOLMES: Yes, so, look, I disagree with the hours. I think that’s a mistake. I think they should probably extend that.

 

But in terms of the drop boxes, what we’re trying — we’re pretending as though a pandemic didn’t exist, right? There are a bunch of things that happened during the course of the 2020 election that require drop boxes and things like that. What this law actually does is codify the fact that drop boxes can exist. All they’re saying is it should be at the polling location.

 

WALLACE: Well, this debate will be continued. Thank you for engaging in it, panel. See you next Sunday.

 

Up next our “Power Players of the Week.” Even in the age of COVID, they can put you in the seats to watch your team play.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

WALLACE: Brackets are getting busted as March Madness rolls on. But while your college basketball team may not wind up in the final four, you can still be in the stands. Just go to our “Power Players of the Week.”  

 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

 

TAYLOR GAUSSOIN, PERK CO-FOUNDER: It was something that had never been offered before and it made sense for the first time.

 

JOE DIPIETRO, PERK CO-FOUNDER: It is feeling connected to a team but also just a connection to a community.

 

WALLACE (voice over): Taylor Gaussoin, he’s on the left, and Joe DiPietro, on how COVID put them in the fan cutout business. Their marketing firm, Perk Social, will create 10,000 fan cutouts for both of this year’s NCAA Final Fours, men and women.

 

WALLACE (on camera): Is there any priority for teams that will be in the Final Four?

 

DIPIETRO: Once the Final Four is announced, that is how they will be installed. After the final four games, we go into the championship game, we will be shuffling them to showcase the ones for the actual championship game.

 

WALLACE (voice over): By now we’re used to photos in the stands instead of fans, but Joe says he first noticed cutouts last summer at a German soccer match.

 

DIPIETRO: This was fan engagement for COVID.

 

WALLACE (on camera): How immediate was the interest?

 

GAUSSOIN: From the beginning of September I think we had two teams sign on board and then by the end of September it was over 50. So the — the growth in the change was incredible.

 

WALLACE: How many cutouts have you made so far?

 

GAUSSOIN: We’ve produced over 100,000 cutouts and counting.

 

WALLACE (voice over): Perk Social gets $25 per cutout. The teams often charge fans more. With the proceeds going to school athletic funds or teams’ charitable foundations, like this Detroit Lions promotion.

 

DIPIETRO: You could actually pay I think it was around a thousand dollars and you could sit, again, sit, next to Barry Sanders cutouts. So your cut out would be placed next to Barry Sanders’ cut out.

 

WALLACE: Uploading your photo is easy and fans get pretty creative. But every image is reviewed.

 

DIPIETRO: There have definitely been inappropriate ones that we had to send back.

 

WALLACE: And fans can tell their teams why being at the game virtually is so important to them.

 

DIPIETRO: Sometimes it’s just as simple as go team, we miss seeing you, we’re supporting you. But the piece that we did not expect when we started this where the memorials.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With got Mo’s Rows.

 

WALLACE: Fans created Mo’s Rows, in tribute to a young Baltimore Ravens supporter who lost his battle with cancer this summer.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is amazing.

 

DIPIETRO: It shows the power of like that — that fandom, first of all, but also like how human this initiative ended up being.

 

WALLACE (on camera): How long do think these cutouts will stay popular?

 

DIPIETRO: We’re already seeing a little bit of a sunset on this. Teams want to get people back in the stands.

 

WALLACE (voice over): Still, Taylor and Joe say cutouts are too much fun to disappear. So maybe.

 

GAUSSOIN: We’ve got one more surprise for you too.

 

WALLACE: I should have seen this coming.

 

GAUSSOIN: We were able to get you your own official Chris Wallace cutout.

 

WALLACE (on camera): Let me just say, I would not want to sit next to that guy at the Final Four! Way too serious.

 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

 

WALLACE: And my wife isn’t crazy about the cut out either.

 

Now this program note.

 

Voting rights — you can watch Shannon Bream’s special, “Women of the Bible Speak,” tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern on Fox News Channel.

 

And that’s it for today. Have a great week and we’ll see you next FOX NEWS SUNDAY.

 

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