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CNN "CNN Newsroom" - Transcript: immigration Crisis


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nd joining me now is Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. He is a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The committee that's holding a hearing on the border crisis next hour.

Senator, thanks for being with us. And just tell us what you're hoping to accomplish with the hearing.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: Good morning, Brianna. Well, first of all, let's get the actual facts. I mean, what do we really have in terms of the number of children right now. They're saying about 52,000, what has been the inflow -- what are these kids really being subjected to. But, you know, my background is in accounting. If, say, you look at

this request by President Obama, $3.7 billion, and let me put it another way, $3,700 million divided by 52,000 children, that's about $71,000 per child.

Now I went online earlier today, and their airfares as low as about $207 to return these kids in a very humane fashion. We can put them up in a hotel room, give them some food but do this expedited procedures like we do in the contiguous countries, Canada and Mexico. We need to establish that procedure. It'd be the number one signal we can send to parents, don't subject your children to the beast, the train system, the depravity of that arduous journey.


KEILAR: Well, but let me ask you about that.

JOHNSON: Because they're not going to be able to stay here. Right now we're sending the signal that they're able to stay.

KEILAR: So you're focused on the cost being too much in terms of when you break it down by child.

JOHNSON: No. No --

KEILAR: But some of the proposal is also to try to combat some of that misinformation that smugglers are propagating in Central American countries, telling people that their kids will be able to get into the U.S., and they won't be deported. Some of it is trying to crack down on smugglers as well, so it's not just getting these kids processed and put out. I mean, in sending them back.

JOHNSON: But, Brianna, Brianna, listen to your last report. They said it's going to take two years to be deported. That's if they're actually deported. So really the propaganda is true. You can get your kid into the United States. Right now they're able to stay in the course of President Obama's deferred action on childhood arrivals. That's exactly the -- that's the actual message we're sending right now.

The more powerful message would be, in a very humane way, send those children immediately back to their country of origin. If we have to spend some money, let's spend some money on those immigration systems down in Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador, to make sure that they -- those children be treated well in their country of origin.

That would be the most important message we can send, that if you -- if you send your children over here, it's not going to be worth the risk. They're going to be sent right back. That's what we ought to be doing instead of creating incentives and inducements for parents to send their children to the United States which is what's happening right now.

KEILAR: So, Senator, you think that the deportation hearing requirement should be waived? JOHNSON: Yes, that's exactly what we do. According to that 2008 law,

we created expedited procedures for immigrants from -- or illegal immigrants from Mexico and Canada. I don't know why we segregated other countries. We ought to have the same expedited procedures so that we're not creating those incentives.

The number one way of securing our border is stop incentivizing people to come to our country illegally. That's what we're doing right now. And so we have to stop that and again, the great - the best thing that we could send would be to send those kids back in a very humane and safe fashion, take them back to their countries of origin so they'll stop being sent here by their parents.

KEILAR: Many Democrats say there's a reason for having a deportation hearing, that in certain cases, there is a claim for asylum that should be heard and that this is something that, for some folks who come to the U.S. and they have a claim like that, that you don't just send them back, you have a deportation hearing. What do you say that?

JOHNSON: Brianna, the anti-trafficking law was a well-intentioned law but it has very negative unintended consequences, so now what we're seeing is we're actually almost incentivizing human traffics, aren't we? These kids are being smuggled through. They are paying these drug lords to smuggle their children.

Isn't that human trafficking? So again, you have to actually -- if you want asylum, you ought to go to your consulate or the U.S. embassy in the country of origin and stake your claim. That's the legal way of doing it, not coming into our country illegally. And again, just look at the inhumanity of the system that's set up now. We're incentivizing --


KEILAR: But doesn't --

JOHNSON: We're incentivizing parents to send --

KEILAR: And I hear you on that but doesn't --

JOHNSON: OK. Well, that's the most important point.

KEILAR: Doesn't the fact that Congress has not been able to achieve anything on this, many would argue that's incentivizing some of this. Doesn't some of this lay at the feet of Congress for not passing reform?

JOHNSON: Now I would say the Senate immigration bill created additional incentives. Part of the Senate bill, and one of the reasons I voted against it, it included in that bill was $262 billion of welfare benefits for non-U.S. citizens. That's an inducement, that's incentive to get in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. You're not going to be tossed out. So now you've got child tax credits that illegal immigrants are claiming.

So we have created so many incentives for illegal immigration, that's the first thing we have to do, is reduce or eliminate those incentives for illegal immigration. So no, I would say all this talk about comprehensive reform without first securing the border is what set up the situation.

KEILAR: All right, really appreciate you being with us this morning. There are so many points of view on this and we appreciate getting yours, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson.

JOHNSON: Have a great day.


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