Sen. Alex Padilla: Biden's Border Plan Is "Unconscionable" | Crooked Media
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June 04, 2024
What A Day
Sen. Alex Padilla: Biden's Border Plan Is "Unconscionable"

In This Episode

  • President Joe Biden signed an executive order that will severely limit the number of migrants who can claim asylum at the border. Flanked by high-profile Democrats at a press conference Tuesday, Biden said he was forced to act to address “a worldwide migrant crisis” amid Republican stonewalling on a bipartisan border bill. “Doing nothing is not an option. We have to act,” Biden said. But the president also came under significant criticism from others in the party, including California Sen. Alex Padilla. He explains why he thinks limiting asylum won’t work.
  • And in headlines: The New York Times reports that Ukrainian forces struck a Russian military facility using American-made military weapons, three Trump associates have been charged with forgery in Wisconsin for their connection in trying to overturn the 2020 election, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a third term in the country’s elections.


Show Notes:



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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, June 5th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What a Day. The show where we have some questions about the $40,000 in government reimbursements Representative Matt Gaetz asked for last year. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, very strategically used the program passed last year that doesn’t require any receipts. Do you know what this company would be paying for it if I could expense things with no receipts? Matt Gaetz is bad but I could spend more. It’s fine. [laughter] [music break] On today’s show, Wisconsin is the latest state to bring charges against Trump allies for trying to overturn the 2020 election. Plus, Ukraine launches strikes into Russia using American made weapons. 


Juanita Tolliver: But first, as we previewed for you yesterday, President Biden issued an executive order on Tuesday to close the border when migrant crossings exceed a seven day average of 2500 crossings per day. Under the order, the border will remain closed until the average number of crossings drops to 1500 per day. Take a listen to Biden as he unveiled the plan at a press conference. 


[clip of President Joe Biden] To protect America as a land that welcomes immigrants, we must first secure the border and secure it now. The simple truth is there is a worldwide migrant crisis. And if the United States doesn’t secure our border, there’s no limit to the number of people who may try to come here. 


Juanita Tolliver: But Biden also seemed to acknowledge that there are a lot of people in his party who aren’t happy with his actions. 


[clip of President Joe Biden] Or those who say the steps I’ve taken are too strict. I say to you that be patient and good willed American people are going to we’re wearing thin right now. Doing nothing is not an option. We have to act and must act consistent with both our law and our values. Our values as Americans. I take these steps today not to walk away from who we are as Americans, but  to make sure we preserve who we are for future generations to come. 


Juanita Tolliver: The new border policy went into effect at 12:01 a.m. eastern today, and it will still allow unaccompanied minors, sex trafficking victims, and asylum seekers who scheduled appointments via the customs and border protections app to cross the border. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Okay, so based on the immediate responses to the president’s announcement, some Democrats appear to be just as upset as Republicans. So can you tell us why that is? 


Juanita Tolliver: Well, Biden was surrounded by fellow Democrats during the announcement, like New York Governor Kathy Hochul, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, the mayor of San Antonio Ron Nirenberg, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly and Texas representatives Marc Veasey and Vicente Gonzales, among others. But there has been an outpouring of frustration from Democrats, who consider President Biden’s executive order to be nearly identical to the asylum ban former President Donald Trump attempted to implement in 2018. The primary criticisms from Democrats are that closing the border is not a viable long term solution, and it inhumanely upends the entire asylum seeking process at a moment when border crossings have declined. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, one of the lead negotiators on the bipartisan border bill that failed, has pushed Democrats to leverage offensive messaging related to Republicans inaction and sabotage on immigration. He described the limitations of President Biden’s executive powers on the border during an appearance on ABC’s Face the Nation last weekend. Take a listen. 


[clip of Senator Chris Murphy] The president has such limited ability to issue executive orders that would have an impact on the border. He can’t conjure resources out of thin air. If he were to try to shut down portions of the border. The courts would throw that out, I think within a matter of weeks. 


Juanita Tolliver: To dig into this issue further, I spoke with Senator Alex Padilla of California about President Biden’s executive order and the impact it will have on asylum seekers and the 2024 election. I started by asking Senator Padilla about the human toll of a policy like this. 


Alex Padilla: Look, obviously, uh beyond disappointed for a number of reasons. You know, we can talk about the fact that it’s not going to work. We could talk about the fact that it’s a retread of failed Trump policies in many ways. But to your point about the human cost of this, you know, the ability for people fleeing violence, fleeing for their lives, fleeing authoritarian governments, fleeing, you know, significant danger to come to the United States to seek asylum, right? It’s not automatically granted there’s a process, but to seek asylum that is allowable by both our federal law and international law. It’s part of the international obligations that we’ve made as the United States of America. And to think that we either make it harder for somebody to qualify for asylum or to put in place an arbitrary cap, you know, whether it’s 2500, whether it’s 1500, if you’re the one person in line behind the person who hit that cap, and to say, no matter how legitimate your claim is, no matter how dangerous it would be for you to return to your home country and your community, uh you’re just out of luck. It is unconscionable to me that that is becoming the policy of the United States. 


Juanita Tolliver: And you told reporters Monday that President Biden’s executive order, quote, “should not be the starting point for the next round of negotiations.” And “this should definitely not be the new Democratic position.” So what should be the starting point and the party’s position? 


Alex Padilla: There is near universal agreement to there is a need to modernize our nation’s immigration system. It hasn’t been done in more than 30 years, despite off and on attempts for many, many years now. Do I agree? Do Democrats agree that we need a secure, orderly and humane border? Absolutely. So how do we do that? Part of what the Democrats have been trying to do through Congress is to provide more capacity for that asylum system. Not just more Border Patrol agents and ICE officers. But imagine this, hearing officers, immigration judges, right. The very infrastructure for hearing these asylum claims. There’s a number of reasons why people may be coming and so we need to address that. We have a lot of allies and partners in not just Mexico but Central and South America. We need to be working with them. So here’s, I won’t call it a fun fact, I’m just going to call it a fact. The numbers of people coming to the southern border seeking asylum in the last couple of months has come down significantly. The numbers have been in a downward direction without any new law being passed, without any executive order being signed. Why? Because months and months ago, officials in the Biden administration worked with representatives of the Mexican government on a more thoughtful way to manage the migration flow. So it’s working, and we need to build on that, not just with Mexico, who just had elections and are going to be in a transition soon, but with other countries again throughout Central and South America. That’s the way to more thoughtfully and effectively address the issue. 


Juanita Tolliver: Okay. Senator Padilla, you just said the numbers are down. So now that raises questions about the timing and the political risks that come along with this executive order. So what does Biden risk politically with this announcement? 


Alex Padilla: Well, I think that’s to be determined. If there’s nothing else that happens, what Biden risks is letting folks factually say, well, he’s just trying the Trump stuff all over again. And we saw that it didn’t work. So what I’m hoping for, and I’ve been pushing him at the White House for, is so what are the other pieces to this? Either a., again, engaging with other leaders throughout the hemisphere or b., recognizing that border security in and of itself is not a comprehensive immigration policy. Right? Because what’s been lost in this conversation, what breaks my heart the most, is not a single dreamer is being helped in all of this. Not a single farm worker is going to enjoy any protections here, because the vast majority of farm workers in the United States are undocumented. We’re talking about the millions of people who aren’t coming to the United States right now, but have been here for years, in some cases decades, contributing to the success of communities, contributing to the success of our economy. Does it make sense? And it’s absolutely wrong. We’re better than this as a country. 


Juanita Tolliver: Now, I know you are one of the Democrats who is explicitly opposed to this executive order, but Biden was surrounded by Democratic members of Congress and Democratic mayors from border cities when he made his executive order announcement on Tuesday. We’ve also seen mayors of deep blue cities like New York, Chicago, and Denver say that they’re overwhelmed by the number of migrants arriving and have repeatedly asked the administration to step up to do more to help them. So we also know that voters across the political spectrum are consistently saying that immigration is a top tier issue for them going into 2024. So with that in mind, how should Biden follow up this executive action that deepens an existing divide among Democrats ahead of the 2024 election? And considering that with the fact that he still has to shore up key blocks of the Democratic voter base like young people, like voters of color, like Latino voters, too. 


Alex Padilla: Yeah. Let me be clear. Not me, not any of my Democratic colleagues that have come out in opposition to the Senate bill months ago or to the executive order, we’re not in the do nothing camp. We all know we need to do something. We just hope that that something is more thoughtful, more effective, and more sustainable than this. I mean, what’s shocking to me is the Senate bill, now, this executive orders the first time that I can recall that as Democrats we’re going to do, you know, punitive elements which we know don’t work and absolutely achieve no relief, no protections for long term residents of the United States who happen to be undocumented. 


Juanita Tolliver: And that begs the question, who is this executive order for? Because you’ve named who it’s not for. You named what it doesn’t do long term or sustainably. So who is this for? 


Alex Padilla: One thing I will agree with the president on from this executive order as he’s presenting it, he’s trying to do something. I have my differences with it because Republicans in Congress fail to act, you know, when they will go through a charade of a negotiation to achieve a bipartisan agreement and then run away from it at the snap of Trump’s fingers. That’s malpractice in the policy making space, and so we need to hold them to account as well. It’s not just what we like about the executive order and what was missing in the executive order. Let’s remember why we’re here to begin with. Because Republicans, for years and years and years, this cycle is no different, would rather keep a quote unquote “crisis at the border” and play for political gain at the ballot box in November instead of actually trying to solve the issues. 


Juanita Tolliver: Now, we know the ACLU has said that it has full intentions of challenging this executive order in court. Do you think the order is going to hold up? 


Alex Padilla: I have my doubts. I mean, it’s far too similar to what was attempted during the Trump administration that was not allowed by the court. So it’s a little different. But I think here we go again, and we’re going to have to keep putting the pressure on,  trying to get a more thoughtful, truly effective and sustainable solution going. I do believe that’s what Democrats want and need and will continue to pursue. 


Juanita Tolliver: That was my conversation with Senator Alex Padilla of California, and we will continue to follow this issue as the legal challenges are likely to follow in the coming days and weeks. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That is the latest for now. We’ll get to some headlines in just a moment, but if you are enjoying our show, please make sure to subscribe and share it with your friends. We’ll be right back after some ads. [music break]




Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Ukrainian forces struck a Russian military facility using American made military weapons, according to The New York Times. A Ukrainian official told The Times that the attack hit a region 20 miles inside of Russia, destroying multiple Russian launchers. The US initially barred the use of its weapons to strike inside of Russia, a restriction that was heavily criticized by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. But according to White House officials, the ban was partially lifted last week to allow the Ukrainian military to defend Kharkiv, the northeastern region of Ukraine. But Ukraine is still barred from using American munitions and long range weapons for offensive strikes. 


Juanita Tolliver: Three Trump associates have been charged with forgery in Wisconsin for their connection in trying to overturn the 2020 election. The Wisconsin attorney General alleges that attorneys Kenneth Chesebro and James Troupis, along with Trump’s head of Election Day operations Michael Roman, helped submit falsified paperwork claiming that Trump won the state in 2020. They each face one count of felony forgery. If they are found guilty, they could be fined $10,000 and serve up to six years in prison. We’ve seen similar election interference cases playing out in Nevada, Michigan, Georgia, and Arizona, so the list is just getting longer now, Priyanka. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Make them all felons. Why not? Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed victory on Tuesday evening in the country’s election, beginning what will be his third term as India’s prime minister. It was the largest democratic exercise in history, with 640 million votes cast. I read somewhere that it took six plus weeks for this–


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –election to take place, but this term looks different from his past decade in office. Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Janata party, or BJP, lost dozens of seats needed to secure a single party majority in parliament. It’s the first time since the BJP rose to power in 2014 that Indian politics will see more of a coalition government, with smaller parties getting a say. The BJP’s loss in seats could also make it more difficult for Modi to carry out a lot of his Hindu nationalist agenda, which includes many anti-Muslim policies. 


Juanita Tolliver: Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter for LA Dodgers star player Shohei Ohtani, has changed his story. On Tuesday, he pled guilty to Federal Bank and tax fraud charges, changing his original not guilty plea from May. Earlier this year, an investigation found that Mizuhara stole nearly $17 million from Ohtani to pay off his gambling debts. Investigators found that Mizuhara had direct access to Ohtani’s bank account, and that he would impersonate Ohtani on the phone to authorize large withdrawals. Oh my gosh, the betrayal of it all. I I just–


Priyanka Aribindi: Crazy. 


Juanita Tolliver: Wrapping my head around like the identity theft paired with just–


Priyanka Aribindi: Truly crazy. 


Juanita Tolliver: –abusing his access to Ohtani. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That’s your best friend. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That’s so crazy. 


Juanita Tolliver: Ohtani, the highest paid player in Major League Baseball, released a statement on Tuesday saying, quote, “this full admission of guilt has brought important closure to me and my family.” According to the Justice Department, Mizuhara will be sentenced in late October and he could face up to 33 years in prison. Yikes. This is just a horrible saga, and I got to come back to the idea of what life is like when you make so much money, you don’t even look at your account. I don’t know what $700 million feels like. I don’t know what that contract signing feels like.


Priyanka Aribindi: I would never look at my account, so I understand why he had no idea that this was happening right under his nose. I would not. Please. Few things will have me feeling like much sympathy for someone who has that much money. I mean, like, how bad could their life be? But like being betrayed. 


Juanita Tolliver: Your best friend. 


Priyanka Aribindi: In such a big way by someone who is so close to you. Oh my God, that’s going to be a long time until I don’t know. How do you really recover from that? 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And those are the headlines. 




Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Don’t steal $17 million from your friends, but do tell your friends to listen. 


Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just the ever growing list of charges faced by Trump’s cronies like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Juanita Tolliver. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


[spoken together] And tell your reps to submit their receipts. 


Priyanka Aribindi: If we got to do it, they got to do it. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. If regular people have to do anything, the people who represent regular people should have to do it too. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s also all our money, like where do you think they’re getting that money? It’s from us. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right! I want to know where it’s going. [laughing] [music break]


Priyanka Aribindi: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We had production help today from Michell Eloy, Greg Walters, and Julia Claire. Our showrunner is Erica Morrison, and our executive producer is Adriene Hill. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.