The Arizona-Mexico border fence near Naco, Arizona, March 29, 2013.
Samantha Sais/Reuters

GOP Rep. on immigration crisis: “I know it sounds harsh …”

Updated

Addressing the ongoing immigration crisis involving tens of thousands of undocumented women and children who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, Republican Congressman Raul Labrador said Sunday that what this administration needs to do is clear: “deport these families, these children.”

The Idaho Rep. continued on NBC’s “Meet on the Press” saying, “I know it sounds harsh, I know it sounds difficult. But they’re creating a crisis at this time that’s actually going to harm these children.” 

Labrador’s comments are part of a polarized debate over the immigration crisis at the border that played out across the Sunday morning talk shows.

Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Senator Lindsey Graham echoed his Republican colleague saying, “We have to send them back, because if you don’t you’re going to incentivize people throughout that part of the world to keep sending their children here.” Graham also added, “This is a specific problem created by an impression that if you get to America you can stay.”

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin emphasized on “Face the Nation,” that “We need to treat these children humanely.”

Up With Steve Kornacki, 7/6/14, 8:00 AM ET

Immigration crisis divides Washington further

The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery, Katon Dawson, former Chairman of the South Carolina Republican party and Gabriela Domenzain from the Raben Group join Steve Kornacki to discuss the political implications of the current crisis at the border.

The Illinois Democrat also said, “I think this administration understands what needs to be done.” Durbin argued that children sent to the United States because of poverty, violence and drug smuggling in Central America is a “desperate and deadly decision.”

Durbin said that those running smuggling rings bringing women and children across the border should be “hit with the hardest penalties we can possibly come up with.”

It is on that one point and seemingly that point alone, that representatives of both political parties agree.

Rep. Labrador told NBC News’s David Gregory, “This is an outrageous thing that is happening to these children, and we need to actually take a strong stance against what’s happening and against these illegal cartels.”

As for the ugly protests that recently occurred in Murrieta, California, aimed at busloads of undocumented women and children, the mayor of that town said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he believes “most of the angry people you saw were from out of town.” Mayor Alan Long also said local police were understaffed and initially overwhelmed by the protesters. He then added, “Our plan this entire time was to make sure we provided the safety for everyone; protesters on both sides and anyone who comes through the city of Murrieta.”

Also appearing on “Meet the Press,” Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson responded to those protests calling them “unfortunate” before adding, “I don’t think that even reflects the sentiment in Murrieta, frankly.”

Speaking more broadly to the issue of the growing number of women and children coming across the border, Secretary Johnson said, “I believe we’re going to stem this tide.”

“We have to do right by the children,” Johnson said, adding “But at the end of the day, our border is not open to illegal immigration.”

“We have to do right by the children … But at the end of the day, our border is not open to illegal immigration”
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson
When pressed about whether the majority of the children would remain in the United States or be deported, Secretary Johnson would only repeat himself saying some version of these two talking points; “The goal of the administration is to stem the tide,” and “There is a deportation proceeding pending against everyone who comes into this country illegally and is apprehended at the border.”

It is that perceived lack of specificity that Republicans have decried as this crisis has unfolded. Having heard the Homeland Secretary’s interview, Rep. Labrador told Gregory, “He wouldn’t even answer your question whether we were going to deport these children or not.”

The congressman also said, “The frustration you see all throughout the United States is because [Americans] feel that this administration is doing nothing on border security.”

Responding to Republicans’ criticism, Sen. Dick Durbin told CBS News, “I am really getting fed up with some of the critics of this administration, particularly from House Republicans.”

“They had the opportunity,” Durbin continued, “for one solid year to call the immigration reform bill, and yet they refused to.”

The senator concluded by rhetorically asking, “When are they going to accept their responsibility to govern, to call this bipartisan bill for consideration?”

Weekends with Alex Witt, 7/6/14, 3:48 PM ET

The continuing crisis at the border

Alex Witt talks to Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., about the possible short term solutions for the surge of undocumented immigrants as immigration reform is put on hold.

GOP Rep. on immigration crisis: "I know it sounds harsh ..."

Updated