Mexican-born American comedian Paul Rodriguez seemed to catch CNN host Don Lemon by surprise when he took a stance this week against illegal immigration while debating the humanitarian crisis unfolding on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Pointing to the Statue of Liberty as he spoke of compassion for the thousands of Central American children illegally crossing into the U.S., Lemon suggested the country is divided on the issue.
“I don’t think we are divided,” Rodriguez said. “I think America has its heart in the right place. We need to be compassionate. We need to be strong and enforce our laws.”
America needs to make it clear to Central American countries that we have to set laws, Rodriquez said, adding that his heart goes out to the parents of these children.
“But at the same time, if we accept these children and we don’t repatriate them, it’s only going to send out a clear signal to everyone in Latin America that if you get to America, you will stay here,” he said.
Lemon tried to redirect the discussion by reminding Rodriguez that he is an immigrant, but the comedian responded by saying there “are legal ways” to come to America.
“What is this going to say to everybody else?” he asked. “Are we prepared to be overwhelmed? Because that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”
When Father Alberto Cutie, an Episcopal priest who advocated on behalf of the children, spoke of the poverty they experience, Rodriquez again spoke in favor of sending them back.
“We allow these 7,000 children to stay here and grow up American and go to our schools, what do we say to the 60,000 that are going to follow them and the 150,000?” he asked. “Can we house them all, Father? Do we have the whereabouts? We can’t even take care of our own kids here now.”
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