In an appearance on CNN on Friday, a Republican lawmaker stirred controversy with a dismissive comment towards migrant asylum-seekers. Specifically, Alabama representative Mo Brooks said America shouldn't be "the planet's orphanage," and insisted that the United States "can not afford" to welcome more asylum-seekers fleeing violence and persecution in Central America.
Brooks made the remarks in an interview with CNN's Alisyn Camerota on Friday morning's episode of New Day. He was responding to recent reports that a caravan traveling from Central America, reportedly comprised of about 1,000 migrants, was heading towards the southern border of the United States in the hopes of securing asylum.
It's worth noting that the caravan, which drew the public ire of President Donald Trump and spurred him to dispatch members of the National Guard to the border, has reportedly stalled out in Mexico City. But regardless, Brooks made it clear that he doesn't think the U.S. should be taking in more asylum-seekers, insisting that "billions" of people could make similar claims of persecution, and that do bring them into the country would be financially unsustainable.
He also repeatedly referred to undocumented immigrants as "illegal aliens," a controversial term which many immigration advocates, activists, and organizations consider offensive and dehumanizing.
When Camerota pointed out that the caravan was full of people seeking asylum, and were therefore attempting to pursue a legal process of entry into the country, Brooks delivered his controversial commentary.
"There are literally billions, billions of people who could make that same kind of argument," Brooks said. "But the bottom line is, as much as we may want to have compassion for people around the planet who are under these circumstances, America cannot afford it."
Brooks ― who voted in favor of a massive, deficit-expanding, predominantly upper-class tax cut of more than $1 trillion late last year ― went on to warn that the U.S. government is on a fiscally unsustainable path, and one way to fix it is to turn away people, like those in the recent caravan, who're seeking asylum from violence and oppression in their native countries.
"The United States government is going to go insolvent and bankrupt unless we change our ways, and this is one of the ways in which we can change our ways," Brooks said. "We cannot afford to be the planet's orphanage. The place where everybody comes, and lives off the hard work of Americans and lawful immigrants who are already here."
Despite the implication of Brooks portraying the migrants on the caravan as trying to "live off the hard work of Americans and lawful immigrants," asylum-seekers are attempting to enter the United States through a legal, lawful process.
Camerota followed up by asking Brooks if he meant to say that America's doors were "now close to people who are fleeing persecution.
"No," Brooks responded. "Well, ok, when you say that they're fleeing persecution, that of course is a judgment call that needs to be decided in a legal format. But we don't have the physical ability to harbor and house all those people."
The United States of America, for the record, is one of the richest countries on Earth, and although population density varies from state to state, there is more than enough physical space in its more than three million square miles to accommodate asylum-seekers.
Brooks, 63, is a four-term House representative from the state of Alabama, although this time last year, he was hoping to become a senator. Brooks ultimately lost the Republican senate primary to Roy Moore, who then went on to lose the general election to Democratic candidate Doug Jones.