Chris Jansing, NBC News Senior White House Correspondent, joined the crew on Morning Joe on June 27 to share the comments of a focus group she convened last week. The group was made up of two Clinton supporters, two Trump supporters and two undecided voters. Jansing says that immigration was one of the chief concerns of all of them, and she gets the conversation started with a question about Trump’s border wall proposal.
Trump supporter Kevin Jackson responds by saying, “A lot of other countries have walls. Why can’t we have one?” But Jackson never addresses the second part of Jansing’s question, which is the notion that somehow Mexico will pay for building it.
Clinton supporter Stephanie Garza points out that the presumptive GOP nominee has never provided specifics for how he will make Mexico pay for the wall. “I’d like to see that from him,” she says.
After the conversation passes to Garza’s fellow Clinton supporter Victor Veschio, who says the very proposal for a wall “tears at the fabric of our United States,” Jackson weighs in again. The ignorance in his comments is almost painful to listen to. Jackson says,
I just think times have changed. Yes, we were accepting — ‘show us your weak, your tired, your poor.’ I think the Statue of Liberty needs a ‘no vacancy.’
Jackson continues by saying that we should also build a wall between the U.S. and Canada. “Nothing against them,” he says. But it’s his next comment that shows he has absolutely no clue of what he’s talking about.
All the money that we spend outside this country, helping poor nations, Muslim nations — dumping money into them. Millions and millions and millions of dollars. Put up a wall around this country, educate our youth, put it into our inner cities, and just dump all of that money into America.
The other Trump supporter on the panel, Victoria Pearce, when asked about the proposal for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration, says that she would support limits on all immigration. “It’s not just Muslims. It’s immigration, period. I think our country has a significant immigration problem,” she tells Jansing. But, Pearce says, she doesn’t think a wall is the solution to the problem.
A few quick facts.
In regard to Pearce’s concern about immigration, illegal migration from Mexico, which is the country Trump and his supporters have identified as the source of America’s “immigration problem,” peaked in 2007 and has been declining ever since, according to Pew Research. And more people have been returning to Mexico than have been entering the U.S. for several years.
But it’s Jackson’s comments that win the prize for ignorance. Jackson, like too many Americans, believes that the U.S. literally ships boatloads of money to other countries, including those we consider enemies. But our foreign aid amounts to less than one percent of the federal budget. Now given the size of the budget that one percent is still a sizable number — some $35 billion dollars in fiscal 2014. But it is nowhere near the amount Jackson and many Americans believe it is.
Another thing Jackson probably doesn’t know is that almost 10 percent of all U.S. foreign aid goes to one country: Israel. Only Egypt, Jordan and Afghanistan even come close the the $3.1 billion the U.S. gave to Israel in fiscal 2014, and the largest recipient of those three, Egypt, gets a little less than half of what Israel gets.
Jackson should also know that were we to stop all foreign aid, it would be very unlikely that much if any of that money would be used to help Americans. Republicans would put it into the Pentagon budget, use it for deficit reduction, or approve more tax breaks for their rich friends. Even if Congress decided to give it to the states for programs like Jackson mentions, when you divide that $35 billion equally among the 50 states, each of them comes away with less than a billion dollars. Yes, it still sounds like a lot of money, but in terms of what needs to be done at home it is a drop in the bucket.
Here is the focus group discussion, via MSNBC:
Featured image via MSNBC screen capture