On Friday’s Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Leahy and special in-studio co-host Carol Swain chatted in the second hour with Chris Chmielenski, Deputy Director of NumbersUSA on our VIP line about what NumbersUSA is and how they support activists all over the country get in touch with their state representatives.
Towards the end of the show, Swain and Chmielenski discussed how it would be advantageous of Trump to attack the Democrats on their immigration platform prior to the 2016 election and how their actions have differed. Swain suggested that Republicans need to hit back stating, “Facts are facts and I think they need to go back to the facts.”
Leahy: On the line right now with us is Chris Chmielenski, the Deputy Director of NumbersUSA.
Chmielenski: Thanks for having me.
Swain: Hi Chris.
Leahy: Chris that’s Carol Swain. Our all-star panelist. And Chris we met briefly yesterday at the FAIR event in Washington, D.C. We weren’t able to squeeze you in there but we’re glad to have you on the line here. Tell lus a little bit about what NmbersUSA does.
Chmielenski: Sure. Well, we’re one of the nations largest immigration reduction group. We have about eight million grassroots activists across the country representing every single possible congressional district. And we provide them tools to help get them in touch with their members of congress. Asking to support immigration policies that best serve the national interests.
Leahy: Great. And how long have you been with NumbersUSA?
Chmielenski: 11 years.
Leahy: Great. And what are one of the big issues you’re focused on right now?
Chmielenski: I would say we’re keeping a close eye on what’s happening down on the border. There’s still a number of loopholes that these illegal border crossers are taking advantage of. Particularly through the asylum system by entering in these possibly fraudulent claims of asylum.
Many of them don’t end up holding up once they get before an immigration judge. But once they get into the country they claim asylum, for the most part, they’re just released into the interior of the country with a work permit and end up disappearing and never even appearing before the immigration judge. That’s one of the things that’s been driving the border crisis. So we’re keeping a close eye on that.
Leahy: That’s a key issue that I think a lot of folks have focused on. Is there any pending legislation on that issue that activists can talk to their members of Congress and the Senate about?
Chmielenski: Well yes. There are actually two bills that are floating around. One in each chamber of Congress. The one that probably has the best chance of making it to the floor and getting a vote is the one that was introduced by Lindsey Graham over in the Senate. And the reason for that is simply because the Republicans control the Senate.
Leahy: Yes, they do.
Chmielenski: Then there’s one offered in the house introduced by Doug Collins who’s a member of the House judiciary. He’s a Republican as well. But since the Democrats control the house it’s less likely it will see the light of day. And in fact, the Democrats passed a bill Wednesday in the House of representatives HR-2203 that won’t’ come to the floor for a vote in the Senate so it has no chance of becoming law. But it would actually roll back much of the Trump administrations executive action.
Leahy: What? You mean the Democrats want to undermine the President of the United States? I’m shocked Chris.
Chmielenski: Shocking. Shocking. There’s some other stuff just besides the impeachment stuff on Wednesday. (Leahy laughs)
Leahy: What struck me Chris was it was so different in terms of how the Sheriffs and the immigration experts that we interviewed in Washington, D.C. yesterday and the day before. What a different view they have of President Trump and his administration than the Democrats in congress. Didn’t that strike you?
Chmielenski: It really did. And he’s done as much he possibly can. For our preference, it’s taken a little longer than we would have liked to have seen. Finally, Kevin McAleenan announced earlier this week that they’re going to finally end catch and release starting next week.
Leahy: Thank goodness.
Chmielenski: We would have liked to have seen that a year and a half ago. I think they needed to get some other things in place which took time to get in place. And then, of course, everything was blocked by the court and so a lot of stuff had to go through the legal process. The apprehensions numbers were way down in August.
We don’t know how much of that is due to the administrative action and how much is due to it’s really really hot in August and not many people tend to cross the border illegally in August based on historical trends. So we’ll start to see as the fall months come in and the weather cools down a bit and see if the policies are having an effect.
Leahy: We’re talking with Chris Chemielenski. The Deputy Director of NumbersUSA. And in the studio with us, Carol Swain, a former professor at Vanderbilt University and also a candidate for mayor here in Nashville and almost made it into the run-off election here.
We had an election where metro councilman at large John Cooper finished in first place in the general election with 36% of the vote. David Briley the incumbent with 26%. And our own Carol Swain right here in studio was only three points behind David Briley.
She didn’t make it to the runoff. But in the runoff John Cooper easily defeated David Briley 70% to 30%. John Cooper will be sworn in tomorrow as Mayor of Nashville. And Carol has a question for you. Carol go ahead.
Swain: First I want to say I’m very familiar with NumbersUSA and Rory Beck. And I to am somewhat of an expert on immigration. I have a book that was released in 2018 debating immigration. One of the things I think that Republicans need to do and I’d like to get your reaction to this is hold the Democrats accountable to that platform.
I’m looking at the party platforms and a big segment of the Democratic parties platform from 2016 is that they’re promising to reform immigration. Everything I’ve seen them do is obstruct immigration. I think they could be hit over their heads with their own words.
Chmielenski: Yes. I couldn’t agree more. And first off thank you, I’m obviously very familiar with your work as well and the time you’ve testified before Congress. So thanks for speaking out so prominently on the issue. And I think that’s exactly what the 2020 reelection campaign for Trump is doing. They’re taking notes of what all these folks are saying.
Especially for the most part at least two of the three front runners on the presidential side, both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are planning to completely eliminate all immigration enforcement. And when you eliminate enforcement you essentially have open borders. Anybody who can get here, if you come legally or illegally we’re not going to remove you so you can stay.
Joe Biden’s been a little bit safer in some of the things that he has said. But again he’s somebody that’s supported the gang of eight bill. The gang of eight bill had a ton of money set aside for border security but what it did was increase illegal immigration numbers so dramatically that everybody who comes across the border now illegally except for the bad people.
Everybody who comes across legally now or illegally to simply work they would be eligible for work permits or green cards. So they would just let everybody in too. And I think that it’s Trump as you said, he’s taking notes and I think he really is going to go after the Democrats on this issue next year.
Swain: The other thing they need to go after is the fact that the Democratic parties constituency includes a lot of Blacks and Hispanics, low wage workers. And the research shows that that segment of the population, the people that are low educated, low skills Americans that they are hurt the most by the illegal influx.
And I don’t think Republicans do a very good job of hitting that and I know that part of it is because when they do they’re accused of being racist and dividing people. But facts are facts and I think they need to go back to the facts.
Chmielenski: You couldn’t be more right. In fact, there was a study that came out in the fall of 2016 from the National Academy of Sciences that found that mass immigration doesn’t have a negative impact on the economy.
But it does have a negative impact on the workers that are most likely to compete with the new immigrants themselves and the illegal aliens. And that happens to be low wage workers which are disproportionately younger workers or Millennials especially.
We’ve seen the lowest rates of participation in the employment numbers among the African American community, the Latin American community and Millenials. They’re the ones that are most affected by it.
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Photo “Chris Chmielenski” by One American News Network.