CNN's Brianna Keilar pushes back on false GOP claim that Biden can currently bar migrants from making asylum claims

The anchor called out a Republican lawmaker over claims about the Senate GOP-negotiated border bill

Video file

Citation From the February 6, 2024, edition of CNN News Central

BRIANNA KEILAR (ANCHOR): I do want to look at the bill and see where the problem is for you and your opposition here. The crux, of course, is this trigger that gives the president the authority to bar migrants — really not just this president, any president — to bar migrants between ports of entry once crossings hit 4,000 as a daily average in a week. And then it makes it required once it hits 5,000 on a daily average in a week, or 85,000 in a single day. These are thresholds that have been reached nearly every day for months now. This is something that would be kicked in today, for instance. What is the problem with that part of the bill?

REP. JOSH BRECHEEN (R-OK): Look, I want to stay off of, you know, a work product that someone from my state has worked on. It's on the Senate side, I'm on the House side. Your own reporting has already described that this bill is not going anywhere. That is a decision that's being made on the Senate side. In terms of the real solution, the real solution has been on the Senate side—

​KEILAR: No, sir, I need to remind you, this is endangered because ​House Republicans say that this is going to go nowhere​, and because former ​President ​Trump has said that this should go nowhere​. ​And once that happen​ed you started to see ​Senate Republican support peel off.


KEILAR: Can we have an honest conversation about this? Because the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 that you're talking about also says that people can come to the border and ask for asylum, even if they crossed into the U.S. without authorization. And if you're citing that bill, you should be very much aware of this, because this particular bill in the Senate side would change that. It would give the president the ability to do exactly what you were citing, the part of the bill that you're citing, because in November of 2018, when former President Trump tried to use that very bill that you're talking about to curb illegal migrant crossings, he was prevented from doing so by a federal court, because it violated the very law that he was trying to use. The law that you are saying is on the books.

BRECHEEN: The law that's on the books, President Biden on day five utilized it when it came to Brazil, South America, South Africa, excuse me, and United Kingdom. He utilized that provision of law that he has the executive authority to do to by the—

KEILAR: It can't apply to asylum, congressman. This is—

BRECHEEN: Hang on, let me finish. Let me finish. We want to have an honest conversation. When on day five, President Biden utilized the Immigration and Nationality Act to say to those from the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil, you're done, because there is a provision that says a class of aliens or entirety of aliens, if they are seen as being destructive to the United States, the president has the authority to just holler, whoa. He refuses. He knows it's there. He's used it before, but he refuses to use it because he doesn't understand to the level that I think common sense is telling the average American people, that's what the American people at large of saying, even in New York City, that's what's happening in our southern border, quoting New York Democrat Mayor Adams, will destroy — he's talking about his city — will destroy his city. Many of us are contending this can destroy our country.

KEILAR: Yeah listen, Democrats in many of these cities, we've had them on. They have major problems because of the crisis at the border. But you are just wrong when it comes to that bill. Because what you are calling for President Biden to do is something that former President Trump attempted and that a court found he couldn't do. The bill says that people can come to the U.S. border and ask for asylum, even if they crossed into the U.S. without authorization. And I know that's inconvenient, but that is in the very bill that you are citing. What would change that would be --

BRECHEEN: Also in the bill --

KEILER: -- Also in the bill, yes, but these things, one cannot be used to circumvent the other part of the bill. And this agreement in the Senate would actually—

BRECHEEN: But they both have a purpose. Both have a purpose.

KEILAR: Yes, but you can't use one part of the bill to invalidate the other part. And that is actually something the court found. I would ask that you revisit what happened in November of 2018, and you'll see exactly what I mean.