White House defends enforcement of immigration laws

This is a rush transcript from "The Five," June 18, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JESSE WATTERS, CO-HOST: That was White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who had some help from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen fielding questions. Very intense about the policies of separating families at the southern border.

And Greg, I think the main point from both of them was that the people in Congress complaining so much about the effects of the policies were the ones that created the policies that created the chaos on the southern border in the first place.

GREG GUTFELD, CO-HOST: I think what -- what's frustrating, if you look at that -- that press conference, if you look on Twitter over the weekend, there's a lot of opinion. There is so much opinion, no solution. An opinion is not a solution.

I don't think you can find a single person who does not [SIC] like this. Right? No one likes it. You have Laura Bush writing something. You have the first lady writing something. Everybody says it's bad. But then you try to read and go down, and you can't find the solution.

I have solutions. You know, A, you have a bus that's right there -- you have a bus right there. You don't want to separate the family? Then you get in the bus. Then you wait for the next family, get on the bus, and then you drive them back.

Ironically, it's never in Mexico. It's Honduras, or it's El Salvador. They never stop in Mexico. If you are definitely in danger, wouldn't you stop at the first place you could stop at? Not just go, "Hey, you know what? We're going to go all the way through." Just stop. If I'm in danger, I go -- if I need to leave the United States, I go to Canada. I don't go to New Zealand. OK?

The other thing, too --

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, CO-HOST: They're cracking down. You can't get in.

GUTFELD: I do think Donald Trump has an opportunity for the solution. He should try to figure out the immediate solution, which I think is the bus. Have a pathway to citizenship, the wall and the big door.

But he's to get in the Oval Office, and he's got to talk to the people, because the only reason why we're having this problem is it's the result of a bigger problem. A bigger problem that's been going on and ignored for decades.

WATTERS: So take that caravan that was coming north and just send it south?


WATTERS: Full of --

GUTFELD: With plenty of refreshments and clean clothes.

WATTERS: Right now, Donna Brazile, welcome to "The Five."

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER INTERIM DNC CHAIR: I've been waiting. I don't know why you didn't know my number.

WATTERS: I'm sorry. I must have lost it.

So I know you've been wanting to talk about this I.G. report, because you've been watching that for hours, but we're going to actually talk about the immigration situation.

BRAZILE: That's a good --

WATTERS: Secretary Nielsen said there are laws on the books that have encouraged this. There's a 2008 child trafficking law that's being abused. There's the Flores (ph) deal, which Clinton administration policy. You can't detain minors for more than 20 days. And then you have the asylum laws being abused. I mean, doesn't the -- past administrations bear some responsibility for this?

BRAZILE: Yes and no. Yes in the sense that you have these two laws on the books, the 1997 law and the 2008 law. The differences is, is that this is a change in policy, a change in enforcement of the law.

Everyone who comes over our border now is treated as a criminal. And they're subject to prosecution.

WATTERS: Correct.

BRAZILE: While the '97 loss said that you had 20 days to deal with these unaccompanied minors. This is a policy change that says we're going to separate these children from the parents who are going to face criminal prosecution.


BRAZILE: So I think the Trump administration needs to work with Congress. Perhaps they'll do it with this immigration debate that they will have tomorrow, which by the way, is a one-sided debate.

I don't know how you're going to put together a solution when you don't have all of the -- what I call main ingredients. But for now, there's no federal law that says that you must separate children from their families. That's the loophole.

WATTERS: One of the loopholes is because you don't want the children to be potentially abused, and you don't know, Kimberly, whether or not the children are actually related to the adult that's bringing them across the border, because the secretary said there's been over a 300 percentage increase --

GUILFOYLE: Three hundred and fourteen.

WATTERS: -- of fraudulent families.

GUILFOYLE: Three hundred and fourteen percent.

WATTERS: Exactly. Crossing the southern border.

GUILFOYLE: Yes, I think that's really an alarming number when you hear that. And you think about, that's really just fraught with problems in terms of risks to children and being in danger. Very much a concern in terms of human trafficking.

Obviously, everybody cares about it, and obviously, people don't want families separated from their children. But you do have an obligation to determine the true identity of the individuals coming over. Just because an adult is accompanied with a minor, you can't make the assumption that they are, in fact, related because quite the contrary. The evidence suggests otherwise. So that would be irresponsible and reckless and a matter of public safety and endangerment to a child.

So this is -- it's a very difficult issue. I think the legislature does need to act on it expeditiously. It's in everyone's best interests to do so and work cooperatively with the president. Because obviously now, the good news is that the issue is getting a lot of, you know, attention and focus and light on it so that we can do something about it. Right? I mean, this is a country of immigrants, but nevertheless, we've got to ensure the safety of people here, those crossing, et cetera, and observe the laws on the books.

WATTERS: And how do you think the White House, Dana, is handling this -- I wouldn't call it a crisis, but it's reaching a boiling point across the country.

DANA PERINO, CO-HOST: Yes, definitely. Well, I think it was very smart to have the principal there today at the briefing. It took her a while to get back. And I understand they had a meeting at 3 p.m. with the president. And it's tense within the White House, because they realize they have a problem.

One thing I was surprised about is that Kirstjen Nielsen -- first, she had excellent facts. That they didn't recognize, just even a week ago, as we started seeing this bubbling up, that they needed to get in front of it.

So now you have all of these photographs, some released from DHS, some from HHS, some from reporters that have been there, some from members of Congress who have been there. And the photographs drive a lot of things.

You remember when the little boy was killed on the crossing, the migrant boy --

WATTERS: Oh, Syria?

PERINO: Yes, and he washed up on the coast of Turkey.


PERINO: Then all of a sudden, it's like, "We can't have this." And so it's not that it wasn't happening to a lot of children. It's just that photographs make a big difference.

Kirstjen Nielsen was asked, have -- like, what about these photographs? And she said, "I haven't seen them." I think that her staff owes it to her to make sure that she sees them so that she's aware that -- of what everybody out there is seeing and why there's all this reaction. Maybe some of it -- a lot of it based on misreporting.

BRAZILE: From today.


PERINO: But you also can -- you can also believe your own eyes. And I don't think it's fair, necessarily, to say that children are being held in cages, but if you look at the photographs, they are chain-link partitions. So they're being covered with silver mylar blankets, and then you hear this ProPublica audio secretly recorded, maybe inappropriate, but the audio is going to pull at heartstrings tonight.

And yes, I think that tomorrow when the president goes to the Congress, he's going to say, "I'm going to support these immigration bills. I want you to pass them." I hope that it's successful. I'm skeptical, in a way, partly because I heard today that one of the people in leadership thinks it has a 10 percent chance of passing the House and that a bill very similar recently held in the Senate only got 40 votes.

So I think they're going to have to either reverse this policy or figure out another way to deal with it while they try to do something with Congress, because now you have a situation where Congress might not be able to pass anything.

WATTERS: Yes, Greg, what do you think? Do you think the president is going to hang tough on this issue like he does in the face of a lot of outrage or do you think he's going to come to the table and try to do something with the Democrats?

GUTFELD: I think he likes solving problems, and I think he would solve this problem if he can.

I don't think -- I don't think the other side wants to solve this problem, because it's one hell of an issue. This is an amazing hammer that you can just pound the White House with. If you take this off the table -- and I've said this for months -- if you take this off the table, there's nothing left for the Democrats.

I am -- I am so tired, though, of people implying that our agents are child abusers. This is something that we just let fly by. Oh, they're not being -- people are doing their best.

This is -- imagine somebody coming to your house and dropping off kids. You try to do your best. That's what America is doing. They are dealing with an influx, thousands of kids. They're not sure what they're doing. They're doing their best.

You have General Michael Hayden that is comparing us to the Holocaust.


GUTFELD: To concentration camps. An insult to victims, to survivors, to people who are taking care of these kids. I mean, that is idiotic. He is a fool.

BRAZILE: But the stress --


BRAZILE: -- the harm, the abuse that comes when you are -- you're not capable of holding your child.

GUTFELD: I understand.

BRAZILE: You are pulling away parents from their children. A man committed suicide because he did not want to let go of his kid. This is a crisis.

GUTFELD: It's an emotional feeling. I get it.

BRAZILE: When it comes to -- and I'm not an emotional person.


BRAZILE: But here's what I do know.


BRAZILE: Is that the Democrats, since you mention the Democrats, one thing I mention, because this should not be a partisan issue. These are children.

GUTFELD: Both sides are bad.

BRAZILE: Regardless of what mistakes their parents are making, or their caretaker, these are children. And we should have a special place in our heart for the children.

WATTERS: Well, let me ask you, though.

BRAZILE: The Democrats do have a bill in the Senate.

WATTERS: Donna, let me ask you --

BRAZILE: Twenty-nine cosponsors of a bill.

WATTERS: What is the Democratic solution? If you have, say, a 40-year-old migrant from God knows where, Central America. And he shows up and gets caught crossing the southern border with a 12-year-old girl. No documentation that they're related. What is the Border Patrol supposed to do, according to a Democratic solution?

BRAZILE: The solution clearly is that we have to vet the people who are coming here, whether they are seeking asylum --

WATTERS: OK. How do you do that?

BRAZILE: Well, that is what border agents are paid to do. That is what the whole system --

WATTERS: This is a part of the vetting process.

BRAZILE: This is a part? No, this is --

WATTERS: You make sure they're related.

BRAZILE: This is a change in policy, a change in prosecuting --

WATTERS: OK. So you want to go back to catch and release?

BRAZILE: No, I'm saying that it's a misdemeanor versus putting them through all of this other legal rigamarole.

WATTERS: OK, the legal rigamarole is to say, "You've broken the law and crossed the border. You're going back home." Not "Show up in a month to a judge," and then 90 percent never show up.

BRAZILE: We all agree that our borders, our immigration system is broken. I'm not here to say that the immigration system is not. It's broken. All I'm saying is that we have a crisis right now.

Dana is absolutely right. We should have seen this coming.


BRAZILE: The Department of Homeland Security should've seen it coming. Jeff Sessions should have seen it coming, and clearly, Donald Trump should have seen it coming.

WATTERS: Well, I know, Kimberly, the one thing that solves the problem is the wall. Because when there is a wall, they can't cross illegally and then the families get to stay together.

GUTFELD: The wall unites people.

GUILFOYLE: Sort of the barrier defense. Every country has a right to be able to protect its borders, right, and make sure that law and order is being observed. And I think that's what we also have to factor in as another interest here, in addition to making sure that children are cared for.

PERINO: Can I just say the other thing is we should -- I know you have to go. That we have to figure out a way to go after the cartels and not each other.

BRAZILE: Correct.

WATTERS: Stay with Fox News for continuing coverage of this issue and the Senate's I.G. report hearing. "Special Report" up next.

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