OTR Interviews

Crisis at the border: How $3.7 billion does nothing to fix the problem

Rep. Jim Bridenstine on the widespread effect of the influx at the border and why he called a trip to an immigration detention facility to the the former Soviet Union


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 8, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: The immigration crisis reaching far beyond the border states. How do you find housing for thousands of children and families?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never thought we would have refugee camps in America. But that's what it is appearing.

SEN. HENRY CUELLAR, D-TEXAS: This is President Obama's Katrina.

RICK PERRY, GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: We don't have a place to house them as it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is outrageous, that we, in America, do not have sovereign borders that we can protect and secure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is the president raising money for two days in Texas and refusing to come to the border and see it for himself?

PERRY: They either are inept or don't care.


VAN SUSTEREN: Oklahoma representative, Jim Bridenstine, joins us. Good evening, stir.

REP. JIM BRIDENSTINE, R-OKLA.: Good evening. How are you?


Are you for or against $3.7 billion being sent to address this issue?

BRIDENSTINE: Well, can I tell that you it doesn't appear that the $3.7 billion is going to address the issue. We lack -- actually, we have operational control over only 44 percent of our southern border. This $3.7 billion doesn't address our southern border at all.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you do? Do you vote for it or against it now that it comes up before you? I recognize your argument that it doesn't address the problem, but in terms of emergency, humanitarian relief, yes or no?

BRIDENSTINE: You know, that's the good question. And earlier, I heard you talking to your panel there and they said, look, this isn't a new technique to put all of this extra spending in a bill like this. Look, you are right. It's not new. That doesn't mean that it's right. What we have to do here is solve the problem. I didn't come to Congress to create problems or to exacerbate problems. We have got to solve the problem. Solving the problem requires to us secure the southern border. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 requires 100 percent operational control of the southern border. We don't have that. If we want to solve this problem, we need to secure the southern border and make sure that people down in Central America understand that if you come here, you cannot stay, and you probably won't get in.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, now we have gotten to sort of a catastrophic position because the Republicans say we have to secure the border first. The Democrats say they have a different vision of how to do immigration reform. This has been going on for years. But now we have a catastrophic problem with about 50,000 children in this country without parents. So, do you Republicans and Democrats continue to fight over this or do they work together and get real immigration policy that is at least going alleviate this problem and give us some sort of a future?

BRIDENSTINE: Look, the president gave us his proposal today. I saw it this afternoon. I haven't read the whole thing. I'm trying to gather it up right now and understand it. But right now, what we have got to do in my opinion is come up with a proposal of our own. Yes, this is a crisis. It has to be dealt with but you don't deal with it by not dealing with it, which ultimately it doesn't appear that this $3.7 billion deals with it.

Greta, I want to be clear on this. Before I got to Congress, I used to do counter-elicit trafficking operations with the Navy. I spent a lot of time in El Salvador. I can tell you that the crime there and the poverty there is bad. But it's not worse now than it was two years ago when I was there. The only difference is that we still have an open border and the president has advertised to the world that he would like to have citizenship for the people who come here illegally. This is what has created the crisis. We have to deal with the crisis, not spend $3.7 billion and really it's four-point -- I think $3.4 billion when you consider the $600 million that they are adding to it for wildfires. We have got to figure out how to solve the crisis, not create new crises or add, you know, spending that doesn't deal with the problem.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.