CNN’s Acosta Tosses Softballs at Mayorkas to Downplay Terror, Crime

News & Politics

On Tuesday, Jim Acosta filled in for Laura Coates Live and hardly pressed any intriguing questions on to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Instead, Acosta let the much criticized DHS chief downplay serious questions about terrorists coming over the border and murders being carried out by illegal immigrants under President Biden’s watch.

Biden recently announced new federal action that will give undocumented spouses permanent residency and, in time, legal citizenship. Acosta began the interview with a recent poll which showed “62 percent of voters think all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. should be deported. That is up from 39 percent in 2016.”

“What do you say to those Americans who think today’s move is a step in the wrong direction and who are shouting things like ‘send them back’ at Trump rallies?” Acosta wondered. He effectively teed up a nonchalant Mayorkas to react to the poll by oddly comparing illegal immigrant’s spouses to U.S. service member’s spouses:

“Jim, let’s take a look a few years back when we provided this relief for spouses of U.S. service members, men and women who have served our country in uniform and have been willing to risk their lives and too many have indeed made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country.”

But Mayorkas decided to be more unpatriotic as he continued, “We will keep families together, families, including the undocumented spouses who have contributed so much to this country in so many different ways.”

Acosta then brought up the recent arrest of eight Tajik individuals who crossed the southern border and where later discovered to have ties to ISIS. He asked Mayorkas, “Do you share the assessment that ISIS could be exploiting vulnerabilities down at the border to attack the United States?”

But Mayorkas did not seem to care as he shrugged off the question and asserted that those in the law enforcement and intelligence community have already been talking about a “heightened threat environment.”

Unsurprisingly, Mayorkas found another way to bash Americans as he exclaimed, “We’ve been speaking about the threat of domestic violent extremism, individuals already resident in the United States who are radicalized by foreign terrorist ideologies, false narratives, anti-government sentiments, personal grievances and other phenomenon.”

Finally answering Acosta’s question concerning the Tajik individuals, Mayorkas said they “made determinations” when they openly let the eight ISIS members into the country. But he continued to claim that it wasn’t their fault since there wasn’t any “derogatory information when first encountered at the border.” He concluded that his “highest priority” was to keep the American people safe and to “take immigration enforcement action.”

Acosta did not follow up on the issue, but he did lightly ask the Secretary about the incident in Maryland where a mother was killed by an illegal immigrant. Despite the murder, he threw in the liberal media’s usual argument: “Obviously, you know, we know that studies show that undocumented immigrants don’t commit more crimes statistically than native born U.S. citizens.” He then asked Mayorkas to knock his and Biden’s critics.

Click “Expand” to view the transcript:

CNN Laura Coates Live

6/19/2024

11:36:56-11:38:54

JIM ACOSTA: Yeah, Mr. Secretary, I do want to ask you a little bit about some of that sound we heard at the beginning of this segment. Recent polling shows 62 percent of voters think all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. should be deported. That is up from 39 percent in 2016. That’s a pretty sharp spike. What do you say to those Americans who think today’s move is a step in the wrong direction and who are shouting things like “send them back” at Trump rallies?

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS (HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY): Jim, let’s take a look a few years back when we provided this relief for spouses of U.S. service members, men and women who have served our country in uniform and have been willing to risk their lives and too many have indeed made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country. That is what we have expanded upon today. This path for status in the United States is available to the undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens now.

But right now, before today, they have to have left the country and applied for that benefit with uncertainty and fear as to when they would be able to enter the United States, when their paperwork would be processed, and so they would be separated from their U.S. citizen spouse and so very often from their children, including U.S. citizen children.

Now what the president has done is enable these people to access that path without having to leave the United States to be able to stay with their family members. It is about family unity. That is an ethic and a value of this country. And we will benefit significantly from it. We will keep families together, families, including the undocumented spouses who have contributed so much to this country in so many different ways.

11:41:34-11:44:29

ACOSTA: And Mr. Secretary, I do want to ask you about the recent arrests of eight Tajik nationals with alleged ties to ISIS who crossed the southern border requesting asylum. The former CIA director, Leon Panetta, told CNN this is a — quote — “9/11 wake up call.” Do you share the assessment that ISIS could be exploiting vulnerabilities down at the border to attack the United States? What’s your sense of that?

MAYORKAS: Jim, we in the law enforcement community and the intelligence community have been speaking of a heightened threat environment, certainly exacerbated in the wake of the October 7th terrorist attacks against Israel. We’ve been speaking about the threat of domestic violent extremism, individuals already resident in the United States who are radicalized by foreign terrorist ideologies, false narratives, anti-government sentiments, personal grievances and other phenomenon.
 

We also have seen a growth in the foreign terrorist threat, and we have enhanced our screening and vetting accordingly. We had eight individuals of concern as to whom we did not have derogatory information when first encountered at the border. We made determinations in the service of our law enforcement objectives, in the service of our highest priority to keep the American people safe and secure, to take immigration enforcement action. And that is indeed what we did.

ACOSTA: And, Mr. Secretary, I do want to ask you about the murder of this Maryland mother that has been in the news. It’s gotten a lot of attention. She was killed last year. An undocumented immigrant was just arrested in her death last week. He’s suspected of multiple crimes since he crossed the border illegally in early 2023.
 

Obviously, you know, we know that studies show that undocumented immigrants don’t commit more crimes statistically than native born U.S. citizens. But what do you say to critics who blame the administration for allowing something like this to happen? Obviously, this is something that you hear in right-wing media all the time.
 

MAYORKAS: Jim, first and foremost, of course, our hearts break for the children, the family, the loved ones, the friends of the individual who was murdered, the woman, the mother. Jim, a criminal is responsible for the criminal act. The criminal who committed this heinous act should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law and forcefully so. That is my response.
 

ACOSTA: All right. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, thank you very much for your time tonight. We appreciate it.
MAYORKAS: Thank you, Jim.

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