Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who recently returned from a deployment to the southern border with the Air National Guard, told Margaret Brennan on Face the Nation that his firsthand look at the situation convinced him to support Donald Trump’s emergency declaration.
Brennan asked Kinzinger if the national emergency declaration was warranted.
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: Yeah I think it does. You know, I- I went down there kind of undecided. You know I- I put on my lieutenant colonel hat, was apolitical but obviously I’m looking at this, getting the information I can. And I think if this was just an issue of immigration it wouldn’t constitute a national emergency but what I saw was really disturbing. Let me give you just a couple of quick examples and I was just a small part of all the operations that were being done.
We found at one point a woman hunkered down in the desert because her coyotes who brought her over deserted her because they wanted to get away. Had she actually not been found by us I don’t know if she’d been able to find her way home. So yeah, she got picked up by Border Patrol, she’s going to be deported, but that was a way better option than being one of the 200, at least, bodies they end up finding in the desert every year.
And keep in mind I’ve done this, you know, we had a mission where we found 70 pounds of methamphetamines on somebody that was coming over and I’m just a very small part of that. This is the fourth time I’ve been to the border, my first time in Arizona, completely different terrain than my prior in Texas. Texas by the way, I was there under President Obama. So the Guard’s mission on the border is nothing new.
(Full disclosure: Kinzinger is my congressman.)
The significance of Kinzinger’s endorsement is that the four-term congressman is well respected on the Hill with regard to military and national security matters and he is one of the most prominent anti-Trump Republicans.
In August of 2016, Kinzinger was one of only a handful of congressmen who refused to endorse Donald Trump for president, saying: “I’m an American before I’m a Republican.” He has often been highly critical of the president and has made no secret of his disgust for Trump.
So it’s notable that Kinzinger would put his personal feelings aside to endorse the president’s emergency declaration. His firsthand analysis of the border situation won’t sway any Democrats, but perhaps it might have some effect on wavering GOP senators.
Trump could use all the help he can get.