Republican Rep. Jim Jordan Weighs In On Acting DHS Secretary's Testimony Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan testified before the House Oversight Committee Thursday. NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the ranking member of the committee.
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Republican Rep. Jim Jordan Weighs In On Acting DHS Secretary's Testimony

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Republican Rep. Jim Jordan Weighs In On Acting DHS Secretary's Testimony

Republican Rep. Jim Jordan Weighs In On Acting DHS Secretary's Testimony

Republican Rep. Jim Jordan Weighs In On Acting DHS Secretary's Testimony

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Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan testified before the House Oversight Committee Thursday. NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the ranking member of the committee.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

And now we are joined by Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, who, as we just heard, questioned acting Secretary McAleenan today.

Thanks for being with us.

JIM JORDAN: You bet. Good to be with you.

SHAPIRO: So in your opening statement, you said border facilities have clean water, air conditioning and adequate supplies. The reports of poor conditions are overblown. That seems to go against two inspector general reports from the Department of Homeland Security itself that found migrants, including children, did not have access to showers, clean clothes, hot meals. How do you square that?

JORDAN: I square it with what the secretary testified to today. We ask him, were these - some of these statements made, like there weren't toothbrushes for kids; they were - had to drink out of toilets - were any of those substantiated? He said no, they weren't, which when you say they were unsubstantiated, another way of saying that is not one single person would say that that was the truth, that that actually happened.

SHAPIRO: Well, except for the Department of Homeland Security inspector general.

JORDAN: The inspector general didn't talk about the - we - I talked about the specific things, about drinking out of toilets and toothbrushes, the two I brought up. And what I'm saying is the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security said they were unsubstantiated.

SHAPIRO: So in one category, you're putting drinking out of toilets, and that, you're saying, is unsubstantiated. In another category, the inspector general says they didn't have access to showers, clean clothes or hot meals.

JORDAN: The inspector general...

SHAPIRO: You're saying that may be legitimate.

JORDAN: The inspector general testified last week, and I ask her - I said, these agents in the - on the border - they're overwhelmed. And she's - under oath said last week, they're doing their level best in a crisis situation. The real concern here is that we've known it's been a crisis for a long time. The president called it a crisis a long time ago, asked for money to help deal with the crisis and...

SHAPIRO: At a point when Republicans were in charge of the House.

JORDAN: ...Get the supplies to the kids. And the Democrats said no, no, no, no, it's faked.

SHAPIRO: But Republicans...

JORDAN: It's contrived.

SHAPIRO: ...Controlled the House and Senate.

JORDAN: It's manufactured. Then the real crisis gets actually even worse, and finally the Democrats said, OK, it is a crisis. And, oh, by the way, your - it's your fault, Mr. President. It's your fault, Border Control - Custom and Border agents. It's your fault when...

SHAPIRO: But why didn't Republicans...

JORDAN: ...For 2 1/2 weeks we've been asking for the aid.

SHAPIRO: ...Who controlled the House and Senate do something about it at that moment years ago or more than a year ago, I should say.

JORDAN: I'm talking this year when - so Secretary McAleenan gets the job in April. Two weeks later, he says, I need $4.6 billion to deal with this crisis, and the Democrats says, no, it's fake; it's manufactured; we're not going to give it to you. It takes them 10 weeks to pass $4.6 billion. And then when they do, they say, we're not going to give you money for ICE beds so that we can move the adult male population into ICE beds away and do the things that need to be done there. They specifically prohibited that. That's what I'm talking about.

SHAPIRO: There's now...

JORDAN: And yet now suddenly it's Secretary McAleenan's fault...

SHAPIRO: There's...

JORDAN: ...When he two weeks onto the job asked for help and it took the Democrats 2 1/2 months to actually give him the help that everyone knows was needed.

SHAPIRO: There's now a bill that's been put forward by Democrats to require border patrol to provide three meals a day, basic hygiene products, access to showers, ensure migrants have medicine among other measures. Do you support that bill?

JORDAN: That's going on right now. Of course we support making sure these...

SHAPIRO: You would vote for that bill.

JORDAN: But what we really need is to address the underlying problem. I would guess that the secretary no less than maybe 10 times today said two things have to happen. Give us the money for the ICE beds. Don't prohibit us from using funds for that. And second, fix the Flores decisions so we can keep families together until they get all the due process, until a decision is made by a judge on whether they are legitimate, seeking asylum or refugee here in the United States or not. So...

SHAPIRO: But I just want to clarify.

JORDAN: That needs to happen.

SHAPIRO: You would support the bill that Democrats...

JORDAN: I got to look at the...

SHAPIRO: ...Have put forward.

JORDAN: I want to look at the legislation. You know, I'm not going to just - I haven't studied the legislation. But once I look at it, I can give you an answer.

SHAPIRO: The Trump administration now says migrants who enter another country before reaching the U.S. have to apply for asylum there. Elsewhere in the program, I spoke with acting CBP chief Mark Morgan who said he thinks this policy will be blocked in court, at least initially. Do you think it's a good policy. And if so, should it be passed through Congress?

JORDAN: I actually agree. It's funny. That's the same policy that President Obama wanted to do. He talked about that. Instead of making his long, hard journey to the southern border and coming all the way up to Texas, why don't you apply in the country - even the - even President Obama...

SHAPIRO: Do you think Congress should pass such a law?

JORDAN: ...Said that makes sense.

SHAPIRO: Do you think Congress should do that?

JORDAN: Heck yeah, and Senator Graham has the bill that would be in essence codifying what President Obama stated makes just good, common sense.

SHAPIRO: Jim Jordan is a ranking member of the House Oversight Committee. He's a Republican from the state of Ohio.

Thank you for joining us today.

JORDAN: You bet. Thank you, Ari.

SHAPIRO: And in another part of the program, we will hear from one of the Democrats on the committee.

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