Sen. James Lankford responds to President Trump's harsh language about illegal immigrants, citing a statistic that on average, DHS and ICE capture ten people per day whose names appear on the terrorist watch list.
"On average, every day," he said. "D.H.S. stops or interdicts ten people that are on the terror watch list trying to come into the country. And so I have a real concern that we're demonizing law enforcement folks that really are trying to be able to do their job, because there are very real threats."
CHUCK TODD: Senator, for my final question for you is having to do with whether the president is creating more problems, or if he's making this harder to solve, by some of the rhetoric he's using.
This is how he's described people coming across the border just this week, Senator. Take a listen.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They could be murderers and thieves.
They endanger all of our children.
Millions of people flowing up and just overtaking the country.
They're human traffickers, they're coyotes. I mean, we're getting some real beauties.
We want people in our country based on merit, not based on a draw, where other countries put their absolute worst in a bin and they start drawing people.
TODD: Do you believe that rhetoric demonizes immigrants and makes your job harder?
LANKFORD: It does, actually. But the challenge of it is, there is a percentage where the president is absolutely correct on that.
TODD: But what's the percentage? I mean, weâ€™re talking --
LANKFORD: The rhetoric probably needs to mention --
TODD: I mean, we're talking the percentage is pretty small.
LANKFORD: It is. It is pretty small. And that's the challenge.
TODD: So, to do two for two. Right, go ahead, sorry.
LANKFORD: I would just say I would prefer the president would step out and say, a lot of these are folks that are coming for economic reasons. They want to be able to flee into an area where they have greater economic opportunities. Every family wants to be able to see that for their family. But there are also some individuals that are there.
On average, every day, DHS stops or interdicts 10 people that are on the terror watch list trying to come into the country. And so, I have a real concern that we're demonizing law enforcement folks that really are trying to be able to do their job, because there are very real threats.
But the vast majority of these individuals are coming for economic reasons. That's why they're coming from Central America. They're not fleeing to Costa Rica or Belize or Ecuador, who also have great asylum laws.
They're coming to the United States because they want to have the economic opportunities. Not just asylum, they're trying to be able to come for economic gains. And I don't blame them for that.
But to tell you the truth, 1.1 million people a year become citizens of the United States illegally, and half a million people a day cross legally into the United States from just the southern border. So this can be done legally, but the challenge is, for those individuals, that is a much smaller number that are doing it illegally, how do you process that?
TODD: Senator Lankford, I'm going to leave it there. Thanks for coming on and sharing your views. Much appreciated.