Rep. Ralph Norman was grilled by a Fox News host over what President Donald Trump’s promise to “shut down the border” actually will look like.
The South Carolina Republican was repeatedly asked to clarify the president’s threat to close off the U.S.-Mexico border to deter the caravan of asylum-seekers attempting to illegally enter the country.
“Any idea what a shutting down the border actually means?” Leland Vittert asked Norman Sunday on Fox News.
“I mean, stopping the points of access so that you can have those go through the points and have them do it legally and go through the court system to seek asylum,” Norman responded.
“Congressman, we have the Border Patrol and they’re still zillions of illegal immigrants coming across the border every day,” Vittert continued. “Does that mean you’re closing it to trade as well, to every semi/tractor trailer that’s going back and forth, to every U.S. citizen who wants to come back through the border? I’m confused.”
“This is for caravans of people who have been publicly on this 2,000 [mile] journey,” Norman replied, explaining that the Trump administration will “figure those out.”
“I’m still confused,” the Fox News host interjected. “What does shutting down the border mean? The law says now you can only come into the United States legally… I’m just confused at what shutting it down means if it’s not already shut down to illegal immigration.”
“If it was shut down now, you still wouldn’t have the 500,000 coming across from illegal immigration,” the lawmaker tried again to explain.
“Exactly,” Vittert said, agreeing with the Republican. “I’m just confused — if we have 500,000 coming across now illegally, are you saying the border patrol and military aren’t doing enough? Does shutting it down mean that it’s going to be shoot on sight? What does shutting down the border mean?”
A “legal process of people getting through” will be ongoing, Norman pointed out.
“The fact that it’s a porous border now, that’s why we need the wall, that’s why the president is trying to get the funding before December 7 to stop the illegal immigration that is such a security issue for America. Shutting it down to me means trying to find those points of people being able to come across and stop it,” he explained.
But Vittert was still not satisfied.
“But isn’t that what the border patrol and military is already supposed to be doing?” he asked. “How does the president saying ‘shut it down’ make them any more able to do it today than they were able to do it 10 days ago?”
“It’s impossible without a wall to control it completely,” Norman replied, as Vittert pressed again, stating “I’m not hearing from you an explanation of actually what it means.”
He admitted he was “still confused” after Norman commented about barbed-wire fences being erected to stop the migrants from crossing illegally into the U.S.
“What is the president going to do different tomorrow when he — quote, unquote — shuts down the border than is done now? Are the orders going to change to the military? Is there are going to be more barbed wire? Are you going to deploy extra Border Patrol agents and how do you shut something down that we’ve been unable to shut down by your own admission for decades?” Vittert asked. “So what does ‘shut down the border’ actually mean?”
“It’s a combination of all of the above,” Norman said. “Barbed-wire fences, National Guard, more troops to stop what’s going on. Is he going to shut it down 100 percent? Probably not.”
“More National Guard troops, more barbed wire,” Vittert concluded.
Rep. Andy Biggs weighed in on the issue during an appearance on Fox News’ “The Next Revolution” on Sunday, responding to host Steve Hilton’s question about whether the president can defend the border without a formal approval from Congress.
“Why can’t the president – chief executive, right? Commander in chief. Defending the border feels like a basic part of that,” Hilton said. “why can’t he just do that without Congress? Is that really unconstitutional?”
“I think he can. I think with some respects we gave him authority to redirect some money,” the Arizona Republican replied. “So I think he can. I think he can close the border. I think he can stop the asylum.”
“We’re fighting the courts as well though,” Biggs added. “You have some rogue judges that are out there that are trying to tell him he can’t do what I think he can constitutionally, and others think he can do as well.”