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Lou Dobbs challenged Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan in a heated debate over loopholes in screening procedures implemented amid the coronavirus crisis.
The Fox Business Network host confronted Morgan on the delays in following through on President Donald Trump’s travel bans, slamming the negligence that has allowed “millions of people” to travel into the country in the midst of the pandemic.
(Source: Fox Business)
“A lot of questions are arising on the announcement that some airports would be, for example, screening for temperatures when I think much of the country just assumed that that was taking place in the face of this pandemic,” Dobbs began on “Lou Dobbs Tonight” Thursday. “Why is it only taking place now?”
“Well, Lou, let’s go back to what you started and what this president did, the historic, unprecedented travel restrictions,” Morgan responded before Dobbs quickly cut him off.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, Commissioner!” the Fox Business host interjected.
“Let me say, Mark, you and I, we know each other well. I respect you deeply, and I always felt that was reciprocated. Let’s deal with what I’m asking because it’s important, it’s very important. This audience understands the history. The reality is that those temperature checks, most Americans believed they were already in place,” Dobbs said.
“Why were they not?” he asked, referring to Trump’s travel bans from China, Iran, and most of Europe due to the global pandemic and how, with flights continuing to come into the U.S. daily, not everyone was being screened as was thought.
“Well, Lou, right now, look, I’m coming at this from a law enforcement perspective. I’m not the medical expert here,” Morgan said.
“So what we are doing though is we are working with the CDC, HHS and other health care providers to come up with a solution that is effective, a common sense, effective solution is. And right now, Lou, what we’ve done, those entering the countries including those areas, CDP, we have screened almost 300,000 people,” he added.
Dobbs was not satisfied.
“Okay. And that’s terrific,” he said, but pressed Morgan on the more than 300,000 foreign arrivals into the country since the virus outbreak began.
“We’re three months into this, and the reality is that temperatures, apparently, haven’t been taken to this point or there wouldn’t have been an announcement last week that you were beginning those temperature screenings,” Dobbs noted.
“Secondly, there’s a ban, a ban on travel from China. There is a ban, as you know, the other regions and countries. And yet I think, again, most Americans are surprised to learn we’re talking about millions of people, not hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands, coming into this country from nations that were banned. And we’re not talking about U.S. nationals, we’re talking about foreign nationals,” he reiterated.
Morgan attempted to address the points Dobbs was making but only ignited more questions about the lack of more decisive action earlier.
“Look, Lou, this president’s been very clear as well, there has to be a balance. There has to be a balance between the very real concerns from a public health standpoint as well as an economic standpoint,” he said.
“We have to take both of those into account, we have to be thoughtful and methodical as we’re applying that. We just can’t turn off and shut everything off. We have to be reasonable and methodical and balance that. And right now one of the things we’re doing is we’re piloting certain additional screenings to see if it’s effective,” he explained.
“Lou, you know as well as I do, look, a lot of people are asymptomatic with this. Even a temperature check — look, I’m not a medical health professional. We know there are a lot of people who have had screening who are completely asymptomatic including the temperature check that later were found out to have had COVID,” Morgan continued.
The debate continued between them as the discussion turned to border crossings and the number of people being exempted from the bans ordered by the president. Morgan admitted more had to be done as he touted steps that have been taken to follow CDC guidelines as well as implement screenings and follow through on restrictions.
“Well, and I commend you for that because so many government agencies, in fact, never, never acknowledge that there is room for improvement, never acknowledge, in point of fact, that their systems are in place are not perfect,” Dobbs told Morgan.
“And I know you as a person and as a leader,” he added. “I have the highest regard for the fact that you take a look at the prospect of failure and recognize deficiencies and move to meet them.”
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