CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The way to address gun safety is through debate, compromise, and respect for the Constitution. That`s HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now with a special report live from the border.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: The President of the United States is going to declare a national emergency on our Southern Border but I have to tell you, it doesn`t look like an emergency from where I`m standing. I`m at Tom Lee Park here in El Paso, Texas overlooking the city of Juarez, Mexico. Beto O`Rourke will be with me in a few minutes as we bring you a special edition of ALL IN tonight covering all 2,000 miles of our Southern Border.
HAYES: We keep talking about this border like it`s one thing, it`s one place, like it`s a national crisis.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So we`re looking at a national emergency.
We have a very big crisis.
This is a tremendous crisis at the border.
HAYES: Bu the U.S. Southern Border with Mexico 2,000 mile, Pacific Ocean going through the Gulf of Mexico with desert, mountains, farmlands, cities, concrete, scrub grass and a whole lot of sand and one long river. How exactly are we going to build a wall on this?
To truly comprehend the border, you got to see it and all of its overwhelming vastness, understand the terrain, the communities, the people on both sides, the reality.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you ever run in to these drug traffickers?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s your message to the president about this action?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have like 800 kids that cross the border every single day just to go to school.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What kind of an impact does this have on your child?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look over here, Americans crossing over to Mexico.
HAYES: Tonight in one hour, we`ll take you all 1,933 miles from Mission, Texas to San Diego, California. This is ALL IN AMERICA live at the border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from El Paso, Texas, I`m Chris Hayes. I`m standing here at the sight of what the president intends to legally and formally declare a national emergency. According to a White House official, if the House passes a bill to avoid a second shut down tonight funding the government, President Trump will sign the bill in the morning that he will declare a national emergency that he will leave for a weekend in Mar-a-Lago after declaring a national emergency.
Our correspondent have covered every single mile of the Southern Border to tell you what is actually happening here. In this place, the President has turned into a national symbol of Trumpism. Cal Perry is near the eastern end of the border in San Benito, Texas, Mariana Atencio is across the border and Piedras Negras, Mexico, Jacob Soboroff is with us in El Paso at the border crossing.
Trymaine Lee is in Antelope Wells, New Mexico, Morgan Radford is in Nogales, Arizona and Gadi Schwartz is at the western end of the border in San Diego, California. The 1,933 mile Southern Border is a vast expanse of desert and mountains and farmland that is nearly the size of the eastern seaboard, it`s geographically and economically diverse area the President is now saying the totality of which is an emergency.
There are challenges across the region to be sure but there is no invasion and in fact by any conceivable metric, it is very hard to look the actual data and conclude there is some unprecedented disaster. Border crossings are decreased dramatically over the last 20 years. As all this unfold today, we`ve been in the city of El Paso, Texas right across from the border with Juarez. We have correspondents all along that U.S.-Mexico border where Donald Trump is preparing to declare a national emergency.
They have driven across the nearly 2,000 miles of southern border over the last few days to see what is really happening here. We begin our series of reports tonight with NBC News Reporter Cal Perry who joins us live from along the Eastern Texas Mexico border in San Benito. Cal?
CAL PERRY, REPORTER, NBC NEWS: Chris, the debate over the border and a wall may seem like politics in Washington D.C. but out here in Texas it`s a way of life.
PERRY: The border between Texas and Mexico stretches for 1,200 miles from bustling cities to tiny towns over mountains and along the Rio Grande, through ranch land and desert scrub from the heart of the country all the way to the Gulf. We drove the entire length of the border starting in the city of El Paso 40 miles outside of town. As the terrain turns to desert the border wall ends.
Just past Tornillo, the temporary detention facility set up to house thousands of migrant children.The gap lasts until you reached the Malloy- Rogers family ranch in Fort Hancock.
What`s your message to the president about this section right here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come down and finish the wall.
PERRY: Near the small town of Candelaria, were less than 100 people live, migrants improvised ways to cross the border. 20-year-old Henry Hernandez began his journey in Guatemala.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish)
PERRY: The border between Mexico and the U.S. follows the Rio Grande southeast. Here the landscape takes over.
You come here at a Big Bend State Park, the most rural part of the state and you understand immediately why those ports of entry are you so often, the natural barrier here makes it virtually impossible to cross which is why a wall here would be completely impractical.
Leaving Big Bend, the road takes us north while the border whines along the river through beautiful unpopulated wilderness.
We`re in Central Texas now on the eastern side of those parks, a return to civilization and so a return of the wall. This is Del Rio Texas. You can see the wall picking back up here for the obvious reason. It`s possible for people to cross here.
Beyond the border town of Eagle Pass, the wall becomes a small fence and the elements can be hostile.
There are no paved roads close to the border in this part of Texas between Eagle Pass and Laredo so if you decide to cross you`re definitely taking your life in your hands. No cell towers, no power lines, nothing, which is why people leave these giant blue buckets out, they`re filled with water. There`s about a case left in this one.
New sections of the wall are being planned in the Rio Grande Valley and could eventually threaten the national butterfly center despite a recent reprieve.
MARIANNA TREVINO WRIGHT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL BUTTERFLY CENTER: This is a remnant of native habitat set aside for conservation and it`s all going to be destroyed.
PERRY: What will happen to the national butterfly center if this wall goes in?
WRIGHT: Well, it`ll look like a prison yard for one which is never good for ecotourism. And we could lose access to 70 percent of our property that will be south of the border wall.
PERRY: Not far away, Border Patrol are out in force around the McAllen picking up large groups of people, the vast majority of which are families. Agents can actually see what`s happening on the Mexican side of the river.
What are they motioning to?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re wanting us to leave so they can cross more bodies.
PERRY: So they`re motioning for you to go away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yep. They`re not as scared of anything right now. You can see that the raft are down here with the recent across people. They want me to leave so they don`t have to worry about their smuggler or their guide getting caught.
PERRY: The final stretch of wall ends near Brownsville, Texas but the border between the two countries stretches further to the east some 13 miles through marshland until reaching the Gulf of Mexico.
PERRY: Chris, the giant sections of wall you see behind me, that money was only appropriated in 2006. Those pieces went in in 2009. The gap behind me will be filled by a gate later this year. So from start to finish, the section of wall behind me took ten years to complete.
HAYES: Cal, I guess of the first question for you is having gone along the entire edge of this border in Texas, what do you think of it being an emergency?
PERRY: There`s no state of emergency. Certainly not for the people who live in South Texas. What is an emergency are humanitarian situations in individual places. For example the Central Processing Center for the Rio Grande Valley. 1,500 people are packed in there. It is at capacity so Customs and Border Protection is doing what they can. It`s a facility that Jacob Soboroff visited about four months ago.
There are still children in cages in that facility. The cages are men to hold maybe 15 people. There are 30 people jammed in there shoulder-to- shoulder. We saw young girls crying and praying and shaking, a very difficult situation. A situation exacerbated by the policies of Donald Trump.
We asked an official from Customs and Border Protection inside that facility what they needed. One of the first things he said, Chris, were judges. Just an indication that it`s not just a wall that needs to be done here.
HAYES: All right, Cal Perry, thanks for being with me. I want to turn now to MSNBC Correspondent Mariana Atencio who`s about 400 miles southeast of me. She`s in Mexico in Piedras Negras just across the border from the Texas town of Eagle Pass. Mariana Atencio, thanks for being with me.
MARIANA ATENCIO, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Chris. The Trump administration has made it more difficult for migrants to be able to apply for asylum at the U.S. border. Instead, the administration reached an agreement with Mexico to keep these asylum seekers south of the border, the policy known as metering. So we traveled to these two border towns, sister cities so close to one another you could see them on the other side. And the President`s policy and its effect on everyone we spoke to was loud and clear.
ATENCIO: Eagle Pass, Texas, a quiet unassuming place, population 30,000. But the voices of residents fear are being drowned out 2,100 law- enforcement agents.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people won`t say nothing because they`re scared of what will be done to them.
ATENCIO: The reason for the extra security lies just across the Rio Grande River in the Mexican city of Piedras Negras now forced into an immigrant showdown with its Texas twin.
All this law enforcement present, what is the message that is sending.
MAYOR RAMSEY ENGLISH CANTU, EAGLE PASS, TEXAS: The message ultimately that it`s sending to these people is that you`re not going to be able to cross illegally. You`re not going to be able to cross in any way shape or --
ATENCIO: Is it necessary to have this display?
CANTU: At this at this level, no.
ATENCIO: We cross the border and this is what we found. The atmosphere here is very tense. You have the Mexican Federales, also the Mexican Army, the Red Cross, the Local Migration Institute all surrounding this shelter behind me.
Some 1,800 migrants mostly from Honduras who arrived via Caravan just over a week ago now being kept by Mexican authorities in what used to be a factory. Among them we met Paula.
How would you describe this place?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish)
ATENCIO: She says like being in jail.
We`re told only a couple of eight groups are allowed inside and so far few migrants are allowed out. That desperation to the break on Wednesday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish)
ATENCIO: Mexican authorities are getting ready to move. Almost 200 migrants from the shelter are getting on these busses and being taken to other states in Mexico. The only reason these folks are being allowed to do that is because they`ve secured humanitarian visas.
If they don`t have humanitarian visas, migrants are not allowed to leave the shelter. Once obtained, they are escorted in small numbers daily to the U.S. border to file their Asylum claim. A process that could take months or longer leaving thousands of migrants waiting indefinitely.
What kind of an impact does this have on you child?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish)
ATENCIO: Mexican officials say they are doing everything they can.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This thing will end soon legally in peace and good relationship.
ATENCIO: For Paula and so many others here, this is home for now but she prays not for long.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish)
ATENCIO: She just says, they`ve been glad that they`ve been able to get to the U.S.
HAYES: Marianna, my understanding --
ATENCIO: Chris, these migrants and these families -- go ahead.
HAYES: Oh, I just wanted to ask. I mean, the shelter scene you showed, basically -- it seems whether it`s a tacit or explicit deal that`s been struck between the U.S. and Mexican government, for the Mexican government essentially warehouse people while this sort of metering policies affected the border. Those folks are essentially in a kind of stateless limbo, is that right?
ATENCIO: Many of the families told me they feel like they`re in prison, Chris. And that is what is new here. Metering is not new but this response from Mexico, from the state of Coahuila in this case, keeping these families, these mothers behind this fence here. I mean, just look at where I`m standing now. They`re guarded 24/7 by Mexican Federales. This is new and it is a direct response to what is happening on the other side.
So the fact that CBP along this bridge can only take 12 to 20 people per day and we`re talking about almost 2,000 here who`s their main objective was to turn themselves in at the port of entry to seek asylum. So these families are essentially cut in the middle of this border battle between these two cities. And I have to say, Chris, just being here on the ground for 48 hours, this I think is the epicenter of this border debate right now, this city in Mexico. Chris?
HAYES: All right, Mariana Atencio, thank you so much for bringing us that from the Mexican side of this border. Jacob Soboroff is here on the border in El Paso where for many people crossing back and forth to and from Mexico is just part of an ordinary day.
JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: That`s right, Chris, spot-on. And I think what gets so lost so often in our conversation about both sides of the border is the interconnectedness of both sides. The President was down here on Monday painting this picture of this incredibly dangerous city Ciudad Juarez which certainly is one of the most dangerous city in Mexico protected by a border wall that was put up some time ago. The residents of El Paso I should say are protected by a border wall.
But the reality is the people that live in El Paso are the people that live in Juarez. They`re the same people, 100,000 people commute back and forth every single day to go to work, to go to school, and the way the President talks about, this is completely (INAUDIBLE) to them. In fact, right now, all these people that are walking behind me are walking back into Mexico from spending a day inside of El Paso.
We have to remember, that El Paso has felt the disproportion and impact of the President`s aggressive deterrence policies. This is the first place that the president put into place a pilot program for zero tolerance. The two children now, they died out in the desert didn`t die in El Paso just over the border line in New Mexico but it died in the El Paso sector.
So when you hear the President talk about a national emergency, for the people that live and work on both sides of this border and traversed it every single day, it`s a completely foreign idea to them, one that just isn`t based in the realities on the ground here. And this is -- this is what it looks like walking back and forth.
HAYES: All right, thank you for that, Jacob. We`re going to talk to you a little bit later about all the reporting you`ve been doing over the last several years on this. Joining me now from Washington D.C. is Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas. His 28th Congressional District runs along the border from McAllen to north of Laredo.
Congressman, you were on that conference committee that struck the deal that appears like it`s going to be signed, but what is your reaction to the President`s announced intent to declare a national emergency?
REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D), TEXAS: I disagree with the President because his vision of the border, all he sees is the crisis that he`s dead wrong. For us, to live on the border, we see the border as a place to raise our families, grow businesses. It`s a place of community and opportunity. If you want to look at violence for example, the -- according to the FBI, the crime rate -- the national crime rate for example murders, it`s 5.3 murders per 100,000.
The border crime rate is a lot lower and I can pick different cities that I`ll pick. My hometown of Laredo, you compare it to Washington D.C. where I`m at right now. It`s more dangerous here in Washington like two or three or four times more dangerous here. So the crisis is not at the border. Sometimes I think it`s in governance dealing with our President with all due respect to him.
HAYES: What do you imagine are the next steps for Democrats and for others if the President does attempt to invoke this legal authority which many observers think is of dubious constitutionality?
CUELLAR: It`s certainly dubious. I mean, I think the Supreme Court has already talked about when the President can declare an emergency. I think any rational, any reasonable judge that I say will look at this and say, if there was an emergency, maybe he should have called it at months and months ago, but he keeps waiting and tries to use that as a leverage.
He did not get his $5.7 billion on that wall that he wanted. You know he didn`t even get that close. So now he wants to use that because he`s obsessed put in this 14th century solution called a wall which is just totally ineffective to what he wants to accomplish.
HAYES: What do you think the press and it would be -- I want to read this. There`s some concerns from Susan Collins, Republican in the Senate who says this. Declaring a national emergency for this purpose would be a mistake on the part of the President. I don`t believe the national emergencies act contemplates the President unilaterally real allocating billions of dollars already designated for specific purposes outside of the normal appropriations process.
What do you think the president is here for you`re -- you and the role of Congress as a co-equal branch should the President do this?
CUELLAR: Well, you know, the Senator is absolutely right. I`m at full agreement with that. As an appropriator, we work a whole year. We have hearings, we have testimony, and then we decide in a very bicameral, very bipartisan way to put the appropriation bills. So we decide what goes into certain accounts. And then the President wants are coming in by himself and change everything that Congress did. That just doesn`t make sense. He`s -- again, he`s just obsessed with this 14th century solution called the wall.
HAYES: Is the reason that the money wasn`t there, the $5.7 million, the compromise that was -- that was hammered out between you and others Republican and Democrat is that it`s just not necessary? Is that your position?
CUELLAR: Look, we want to have sensible border security where we balance the trade and tourism with border security. Again, I live on the border. I know what the border is. I don`t just go in for a few minutes and say I know that the border better. So it`s based on if you want to stop drugs, keep in mind that DEA CP -- the Custom and Border Protection`s say that most drugs will come through ports of entry. So you build a wall, it doesn`t stop the drugs coming into our port so you got to be smart. Focus on the ports of entry, technology, K9 personnel.
Now, if you want to stop people from coming in, keep this in mind. Keep in mind that the -- that in 2001, 2000, Border Patrol apprehended 1.6 million individuals. What did they apprehend in the southern border last year, 303,000 individuals. And if you want to look at the most of the people that are here 67 percent are here illegally came through a legal visa of permit. So you put a wall, what`s going to happen? They`re going to fly, drive through a bridge.
And keep in mind, with all due respect to our neighbors, most over -- visa overstays are Canadians so maybe we`re looking at the wrong border.
HAYES: Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas whose district is along that border, thank you for making all time tonight. This week began with the President coming here to El Paso to whip up support for his border wall, but he was met by a counter rally led by former congressman, rising Democratic star and possible 2020 candidate Beto O`Rourk. El Paso is O`Rourke`s hometown. I talked about an hour ago right after we learned the president was declaring a national emergency.
HAYES: So obviously the big news today is the President is going to sign the border appropriation or the DHS appropriation and also declare some unspecified national emergency. What do you think of that?
BETO O`ROURKE (D), FORMER CONGRESSMAN, TEXAS: It`s hard to make a rational case for an emergency declaration or troops on the border or any amount of additional border walls or border fencing or steel slats even if it`s not $5.5 billion, even it`s only one and a quarter. The border has never been as safe and secure as it is now.
And as many people now know, El Paso has been a safe city, one of the safest in the U.S. for the last 20 years prior to having a wall, post to having one. In fact, a little less safe after we had a wall. And we`re not an outlier. McAllen is safe, San Diego is safe, the border cities are safer than the average city in the interior. There`s no rational reason to do this.
HAYES: You know, it`s funny because I`ve been interviewing you for years about precisely this and you would always come on and say El Paso is one of the safest cities in America and right on the border. And it was interesting to watch the president basically take that and turn that against El Paso.
HAYES: Right. So that -- so for a while, it was the border is really scary and there was no, it is really safe and it`s because of the wall which there`s part of back there and you think that`s not true.
O`ROURKE: No, I know it`s not true. So you look at FBI crime data and you see 20 years going, El Paso is the safest or the second or the third safest in the United States bar none. We build a wall in 2008 after the 2006 Secure Fence Act voted for by Republicans and Democrats alike and El Paso`s safety actually drops. The crime the crime rate actually increases after that. I don`t know if it`s correlated but what I can tell you is the wall did not make us any safer.
HAYES: So before the wall -- I mean this is the thing I think it`s hard for people to get their heads up. Before the wall, there was no wall. Like you could just get -- if you wanted to, like this stretch right here, they could come across. But it was not like the city of El Paso was under some perpetual invasion?
O`ROURKE: It was not. And I think a really important thing to remember is that we`ve always had some level of migration from Mexico and to an extent Central America, most of it from people wanting to work jobs here in this country that no one else would do legally under the Bracero Program. Our immigration laws are amended in 1965 to end that program. And essentially the same number of people still keep coming to work only now they`re undocumented.
Today, the lowest levels of northbound apprehension in my lifetime -- I`m 46 years old -- and those who are coming are turning themselves in. They`re not coming for work, they`re coming to flee the most violent countries on the planet today very often with their little kids or little kids without their parents. No walls is going to keep that out nor should it. We have asylum laws that we must follow, international obligations to which we must adhere. And you know a sense of moral purpose that I think we should be able to live up to. The wall is not going to solve any of that.
HAYES: You were -- you`re you know, rally on Monday night, you were at a rally on Monday night organized by your community here when the President came to town. What was the kind of -- what`s the message there? What do - - for people there looking at this in Kenosha or Detroit or New Jersey or Oregon, what is the message?
O`ROURKE: It was so powerful, so profoundly positive. There was no anger, there was no resentment, there`s nothing negative about it. It was a celebration of what makes El Paso so special. The fact that we`re one of the safest cities in America not in spite of but because we are a city of immigrants.
A quarter of those who live here were born in another country. Their very presence makes us safer, we`re successful, stronger, more secure. You make communities, you make the State of Texas, you make by extension the country a safer place by treating people with dignity and respect, not militarizing communities, not adding even more to the $20 billion a year that we`re spending on border security. You make sure that our laws match our values, our interests, our experienced here.
So I think El Paso helped to set the example for the country on Monday night.
HAYES: I want to pass along from a question from a congressman who does not represent the border but he is in Texas Dan Crenshaw who is a new member of Congress. He`s a very outspoken in favor of the President`s agenda on the border particularly.
HAYES: And he wanted to ask you -- he tweeted this, I`m just passing along. It`s not something that he did and text me. You know, would you -- if you could, would you take the wall down now here?
HAYES: Like you have a wall and knock it down.
O`ROURKE: Absolutely. I`ll take the wall down.
HAYES: You think the city -- you think of a referendum here in the city that would pass?
O`ROURKE: I do. Here`s what we know. After the Secure Fence Act, we have built 600 miles of wall and fencing on a 2,000-mile border. What that has done is not in any demonstrable way made us safer. It`s cost us tens of billions of dollars to build and to maintain and it is pushed migrants and asylum seekers and refugees to the most inhospitable, the most hostile stretches of the U.S.-Mexico border ensuring their suffering and death.
More than 4,000 human beings, little kids, women, and children have died. They`re not in cages, they`re not locked up, they`re not separated, they`re dead over the last ten years as we have walled off their opportunity to legally petition for asylum, to cross in urban centers like El Paso, to be with family, to work jobs, to do what any human being should have a right to be able to do, what we would do with faced with the same circumstances they were.
HAYES: What I`m hearing from you is something bolder or in some ways more ambitious than just we shouldn`t the wall. I mean, it sounds like you`re saying the kinds of ways we treat the border starting basically post on 9/11, 2006, CBP workforce has gone up, spending has gone up, miles of fencing is gone up. You`re saying you don`t think any of that has been good for the country.
O`ROURKE: It`s perverse the response that we have to legitimate concerns and problems. International terrorism which was orchestrated in Afghanistan by al-Qaeda carried out by people from Saudi Arabia, we punish people from Mexico at the U.S.-Mexico border, deport in one year alone 400,000 Mexican nationals from this country from our response to 9/11.
We walled of 600 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border precisely zero terrorists or terrorist organizations have ever used a border to attack a single American. So we do this whether it is the war on terror, the war on drugs.
O`ROURKE: We project our fears and anxieties to places like El Paso to the U.S.-Mexico border and punish the people who live here. There`s no -- there`s no reason to do that but is the fear and the anxiety that is stoked by people who should and frankly do know better that results in these policies.
HAYES: Beto O`Rourke who is now a private citizen --
HAYES: Father of three.
O`ROURKE: That`s right.
HAYES: I`ll give you some Valentine`s Day plans.
O`ROURKE: Thank you. We do. We`re going to see Willie Nelson.
HAYES: All right.
HAYES: Much more to come tonight live from our special report from the Southern Border. The site of what the president calls a national emergency. Next we travel the border west from Texas into New Mexico where Trymaine Lee has traversed the (INAUDIBLE) for the West to Arizona where Morgan Radford reports on the lives lost in the desert, all the way to California Gadi Schwartz follows the border wall in the dunes and where Trump prototypes have already failed the test. All that as ALL IN AMERICA is live at the border goes on.
HAYES: We are live at the border in El Paso, Texas. The border with Mexico is just behind me. The state line is just a few miles to the west of here. On the other side is New Mexico, a state with just border crossing over 100 miles of wall and fencing along the border.
New Mexico`s border region is almost all desert, which is why, until fairly recently, it was a place where few people tried to cross legally.
Our reporters are fanned out all across the border, and Trymaine Lee has spent the last few days in New Mexico traversing the state`s southern edge. He joins us live tonight from Antelope Wells, New Mexico -- Trymaine.
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC: Chris, it`s really hard to overstate just how remote and isolated this region of the state really is, which makes for an incredibly dangerous and arduous journey if you`re trying to cross into the United States from the southern border.
But we began our journey just west of you, in a town called Sunland Park, where the mayor there is more interested in building partnerships than walls.
LEE: The southern border of New Mexico is one of the most sparsely populated parts of the country, it stretches across roughly 200 miles of rugged terrain and barren desert, making it hard to tell where the U.S. ends and Mexico begins.
MAYOR JAVIER PEREA, SUNLAND PARK, NEW MEXICO: It`s the City of Sunland Park is actually at the point where state of Texas and New Mexico meet, but also with the state of Chihuahua, which is, you know, in Mexico.
It`s one region with a one culture here, because so with one culture here, because I have families that lived here in city of Sunland Park during the week and on the weekends they go back home to visit their mom, their parents, their aunts in Mexico.
LEE: 65 miles west in the village of Columbus, people not only cross the border on the weekends, but every weekday. Some 800 children carrying their passports attend school here. They are U.S. citizens. Many of their parents are not.
AMANDO CHAVZ, PRINCIPAL, COLUMBUS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Close to 70 percent of our kids do cross every day, but once they are here, we`re a level playing field as everyone else, because we have the same expectations...
LEE: It may seem complicated because there is that actual barrier, but it`s simple, you are here to educate kids.
CHAVEZ: We want our children to go to college. We want our children to have those opportunities, because we want them to not live off government entities, we want them to be successful people who can contribute back to the tax base and live in the country and be productive.
LEE: For people who don`t live anywhere near the border and they`re just tuned in to the news, it feels like there is this big crisis, or chaos, but what we find here is a community filled would love.
CHAVEZ: You can let negative infiltrate your school, and we don`t allow that here. So anything negative, we do our best to keep it outside and we come in here and we embrace the kids and create our own culture.
LEE: In Hildago County, the border take sharp drop to the south, a vast frontier known as the Boot heel. Ranchers here say the migrants crossing their land are bad neighbors.
CAMMIE MOORE, RANCHER: We`ve had them bunking out in our barns. You don`t know if you`re going to get hit in the head.
LEE: So, how do you protect yourself?
MOORE: We have to care a guns. I mean that`s just -- it`s plain and simple.
LEE: What does that feel like to have to think about it?
MOORE: It`s not easy. I don`t want to shoot anyone. I don`t want put anyone in harm`s way. But if push comes to shove then my family`s first.
We have six deputies and a sheriff out here, and they patrol 3,500 square miles.
LEE: Of the three points of entry in New Mexico, the far flung Antelope Wells station is where officials say there`s been an uptick of migrants crossing in large numbers nearby.
The unforgiving open we`re in clover dale, about as far west is increasingly hard to monitor.
We`re here in Cloverdale, about as far west as you can go in New Mexico. In that direction is Arizona, just a few miles to the south over there is Mexico. But I want to show you something, Cloverdale is actually the last outpost in the state. It`s so remote, so isolated there`s just one building left standing.
HAYES: Trymaine, you did a great job of showing how remote it is there. And we have heard from both your reporting and CPB officially, more migrants are crossing there despite how unforgiving the terrain is. Why? What is driving that?
LEE: We hear a lot about that term metering, which means the government basically controls how many migrants can apply for asylum each day. So if you don`t get through on one day you have to turn around and come back another day. Migrants know that. So, instead of going to the busier ports of entry, they come to dangerous stretches of this vast wide open kind of landscape that you see here at Antelope Wells, where temperatures dip to single the digits at night. It`s long, it`s dangerous, and they`re finding themselves -- one, you know, it can be a dangerous journey, but also crossing through ranch land. And as you heard that young lady mention, Cammie Moore, said that folks are scared, so they`re arming themselves.
So, they`re coming to these remote outposts, because they feel they have a better chance of getting in this way than one of the more busy ports.
HAYES: All right, Trymaine Lee there in Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Thank you for that great report.
Joining me from New Mexico`s Capitol City, Santa Fe, is the state`s new Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. She`s the first Democratic Latina governor in the country. She pulled most of her states National Guard troops from the border the same day the president gave his State of the Union Address.
Let we start with that decision. Why did they pull the National Guard troops from the border, governor?
GOV. MICHELLE JUJAN GRISHAM, (D) NEW MEXICO: Well, Chris, as you`ve been doing in this segment, I have visited the border many times. And right after I was elected I, in fact, went right to Sunland Park and was participating in looking and reviewing and asking questions of our National Guard and the Border Patrol Agents. And there`s no emergency. And frankly they could not justify the presence of the National Guard in terms of a national security issue.
And so that -- we have so many things that we need to be doing. And in fact the federal government is not meeting its responsibility on immigration issues in any stretch of the imagination. I made that decision. I actually gave the National Guard and border patrol several weeks to answer questions about the kind of activities, what they were doing, what kind of emergencies they were seeing, what kind of national security issues were present, and they were not able to defend anything of that nature. And as a result, I made the decision to pull those troops from the border.
HAYES: The president is announced an intention to declare some kind of national emergency. The details of that are yet to be determined or announced, but what do you see as your role as governor of that state, what would you do in that capacity were the government to use that emergency, those emergency powers to do things in New Mexico?
GRISHAM: Well, I`m certainly going to join, I hope, the chorus of so many elected leaders and law enforcement folks that this is a terrible and unfortunate tactic that president is taking. It`s an additional effort at more campaign-like stunts. His own Department of Justice is being reported by national news outlets don`t think it`s going to pass any legal muster, because there is no emergency, and it really sets the worst kind of precedence for separation of powers.
And so this affects everyone in congress, affects governors. And we will join whatever legal action and related efforts to make sure that we keep the executive branch in check.
This is nothing more than a power grab. And it`s stoking fear. And frankly it makes us less safe and is using resources that are intended for other purposes in this country.
HAYES: You just won an election just a few months ago. And I`m curious, you`ve got a state that is a border state. You look at the national political discourse over the last three months, how ranking in the number one to number three or four issues in that campaign you just ran in your state on the border, where were these issues?
I mean, what the president talks about, the state of emergency, was that at the center of the campaign that you just ran?
GRISHAM: No. In fact, in my general with -- I was running against another former member of congress. We were both in congress in that general election. We were both against the wall, because we live here. We know the impact it has on families, on humanitarian efforts, and most importantly our economy. The fabric of what makes this a multicultural safe state and we are really working in New Mexico to bolster our economy. So we were both on the same page on that issue.
And immigration and the border wall were not primary issues in the campaign, because we`re living in a totally different reality than what`s being manufactured by the president.
HAYES: All right. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, thank you so much for making some time tonight. I really appreciate it.
To the west of New Mexico, the state of Arizona, it has 373 miles of border, a swath so long and varied the stories there are as nuanced as the terrain.
NBC News correspondent Morgan Radford has been traveling through the state all week, talking to people along the border with Mexico. She joins live tonight from Nogales, Arizona -- Morgan.
MORGAN RADFORD, NBC NEWS: That`s right, Chris. Nogales is the largest border town here in Arizona. And right now, they`re in a bitter battle over this freshly placed concertina wire which you can see covering the fence behind me.
But the reality of it is this fence is just a small portion of the entire Arizona border. In fact two-thirds of that border only has short vehicle barriers or no barriers at all. And that means for each type of terrain, there is a completely different type of battle at the border.
RADFORD: The Arizona/Mexico border, 373 miles of treacherous terrain, one giant barrier, from the mountainous natural barriers in the east, to man- made razor wire in the center, and barren desert out west.
Deadly, mountainous terrain like this has already nearly 3,000 lives in the last 20 years.
Every Tuesday you do this?
ALVARO ENCISO, ARTIST: All year around, even when the temperature`s 110 degrees.
RADFORD: For artist Alvaro Ensico, his life`s mission is to remember each and every migrant who died.
Why do you do it?
ENCISO: Because I`m part of the the La Raza, I`m part of the migration.
RADFORD: The people, the race. This is your story too?
ENCISO: This is my story. Every time I come here, I connect this loss to losses in my own life.
RADFORD: He`s placed 900 crosses in five years.
ENCISO: This administration is using the desert to kill people and they`re dying from lack of water.
RADFORD: Which is why he and his team of volunteers also leave behind a jug of water. They figured if someone died here, more are coming behind them.
People have left messages to you after leaving the water bottle?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoever finds them, yeah.
RADFORD: What kind of things do they say on the messages?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gracias.
RADFORD: But even if the migrant were to try to avoid the desert, by traveling to the center of the state, then they`d run into this, a 22-foot high wall covered in brand new concertina wire.
This is Nogales, Arizona, but that is Nogales, Mexico.
IVETH LOPEZ, FAMILY SPLIT BY BORDER: Yeah, Nogales, Mexico.
RADFORD: Yvette (ph) moved to Nogales to be closer to her husband who`s waiting in Mexico to reapply citizenship to the U.S.
LOPEZ: People just how hard it is.
RADFORD: Sometimes, his family comes here just to speak to him through the fence.
Along this wall, there are more than 5,000 border patrol agents, but where there aren`t, some have decided to take the law into their own hands.
Tim Foley (Ph) calls himself a certified tracker. He`s the founder of the Arizona Border Recon, a group of volunteers from all over the country.
Where are the cameras that you`re using?
TIM FOLEY, FOUNDER, ARIZONA BORDER RECON: They`re hidden.
RADFORD: Dressed in camouflage and armed with his pistol, Foley (ph) to patrol this patch of the border, placing hidden cameras and looking for any signs of what he calls criminal activity.
A lot of people might say you guys are a bunch of racists who just want to hunt down Mexican people, or people trying to cross the border. What do you say to that?
FOLEY: Well, that`s because they have a preconceived notion of who we are, and of anybody who`s trying to protect the border, they call them racists. You have the second largest makeup of our group is Hispanic males.
RADFORD: You have Hispanic men who are helping you?
RADFORD: ...secure this border?
HAYES: Morgan, you talked about the concertina wire that was put up behind you recently. Why has that been a source of friction?
RADFORD: Well, I have to say, Chris, that`s what really struck me, because a lot of people here said look, we`re not necessarily opposed to some form of a barrier, because we`ve grown up with some form of fence or a wall for the past 20 plus years, but what they`re bothered by, Chris, is this brand new razor wire. They said it feels threatening, it feels punitive, and many of them told me they feel like they`re living in a war zone.
But what really struck me, Chris, is something that Iveth told me, the woman whose husband is in Mexico. She says, Morgan, it`s not only the symbolism, but it`s the rhetoric behind the razor wire. She said if you notice this razor wire is only on the U.S. side of the border and it`s not on the Mexican side of the border, so what message does that send? What symbol does that mean? What does that tell people they need fear when they come to our country -- Chris.
HAYES: NBC News correspondent Morgan Radford in Nogales, Arizona for us tonight, many thanks for that.
Heading even further west to our final border stop tonight, the great state of California. At 140 miles, it has the smallest border with Mexico. The California border also includes San Ysidro, which is the country`s busiest land port of entry with an average of 90,000 people, including passengers and pedestrians coming north every day.
Much of the California border is already walled off by barriers of some kind. Gadi Schwartz has traveled along the entire length of that border from the east to the west and he joins us live tonight from San Diego, California to share what he found -- Gadi.
GADI SCHWARTZ, NBC NEWS: Hey, Chris.
Yeah, most of the people that we`ve been talking to as we`ve cross the border lands here California say that it doesn`t feel like there it is a crisis, but they will be quick to point to the walls and the fences that have been up here more than a decade.
SCHWARTZ: Stretching across desolate deserts over steep terrain and into the Pacific, California`s 140 mile border starts here at the Andrade port of entry where most of the traffic appeared to be Americans crossing south towards discount dentists and health clinics in Mexico.
That razor wire up there, that`s definitely new, but this wall right here, this is the old wall that a lot of border patrol agents say they don`t like, because they can`t see what`s going on on the Mexico side. And you look over here -- hey, guys -- Americans crossing over to Mexico, you guys...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We like Trump.
SCHWARTZ: Some Trump supporters there.
Wall or no wall?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wall.
SCHWARTZ: Wall or no wall?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No wall.
SCHWARTZ: Three miles west, a massive sea of sand dunes spans the desert with only one way back to actually see the border.
And crossing these sand dunes gives you a full understanding of just how unforgiving this terrain can be. It would be really tough to build a full blown wall out here, because the sands are constantly shifting throughout the year, but a floating fence, that is a different story, that is what we`re seeing right here. This is what border patrol installed a few years ago.
34 miles west, the city of Calexico -- this is some of the tallest fencing in America, and it`s right here next to this strip mall. You`ve got border patrol right behind us.
Do you think that the rest of the United States understands what`s happening here on the border?
AIMEE AYELA, BORDER RESIDENT: No.
SCHWARTZ: What do you think they think is going on?
AYELA: I think they think that people are jumping every day trying to steal our jobs, when in reality there are no jobs to steal.
SCHWARTZ: The fence stops and starts again over several mountain ranges running along the town of Hacumba Hot Springs (ph).
Do you think there`s a border crisis out here?
MARTHA HAZLETT, BORDER RESIDENT: No. No. I think it`s ridiculous. We don`t need a damn wall.
SCHWARTZ: 100 miles into California at the only cafe in Campo, Fox News is on. The lunch crowd is mostly border patrol, and some who live nearby say there is a crisis.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You used to not see any immigrants passing through, but now you see them everywhere.
SCHWARTZ: From there, as the border approaches San Diego, it passes eight prototype walls, built during President Trump`s early preference for concrete.
TRUMP: It`s not a fence, it`s a wall.
SCHWARTZ: A Department of Homeland Security test found all the prototypes were potentially breachable.
Is this the preferred fence, the preferred wall?
RODNEY SCOTT, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: Yeah, this design here is what border patrol has our preferred. What we really like about it is if you look right now back either direction, it`s a wall, it`s an impenetrable, eight inch plus thick concrete and steel wall that my guys can get protection behind.
SCHWARTZ: From there, the border runs six miles to San Ysidro, the busiest land port of entry in the world with 34 million crossings last year.
As the border drops to sea level...
TERRY TYNAN, BORDER RESIDENT: That is smuggler`s gulch.
SCHWARTZ: It runs above an infamous canyon in front of rancher Terry Tenan`s (ph) home where hundreds of thousands of immigrants cross into the U.S. in the 90s and early 2000s.
TYNAN: Well, they built another fence, to where one they couldn`t get over and then put almost a halt to people coming through.
SCHWARTZ: Another two miles west, the fence finally disappears into the ocean at a place called Friendship Park. Open only on the weekends for family members separated by the border to talk to each other and touch fingertips under the watchful eye of border patrol.
SCHWARTZ: And, Chris, that`s what it feels like here on the California side. But I`ve got to say over on the Tijuana side, it`s somewhat of a different story. Over there, authorities say that there is a humanitarian crisis with the migrant caravans and the families coming up from Central America and authorities here in the United States, including border patrol, says that that is starting to spill over the border into the San Diego sector saying that they have seen an apprehension rate of family units up about 600 percent since October -- Chris.
HAYES: Gadi, there is some news today that a number of rights groups, I think including the ACLU, are going to sue the U.S. government over the policy they`ve implemented at places like San Ysidro, and this deal they appear to have struck Mexican officials to keep folks in Tijuana or these kind of border cities. What can you tell us about that?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, it`s not just keeping folks in Tijuana, we`re talking about now seeing some cases where people have crossed into the United States, and they are here, they have been processed and then they are taken back and told to wait in Mexico.
Today, we heard of 10 children that were crossed over into Mexico along with 53 other people, and we`re expecting to see that a lot more -- Chris.
HAYES: All right, Gadi Schwartz live for us in San Diego, California. Thanks very much for that.
That takes us the nearly 2,000 mile span of the southern border. Back here in El Paso tonight, I`m joined by two people who know a lot about life on the border, Jacob Soboroff, who has reported extensively on the border over the past three years, including on the child separation policy. He is here along with the mayor of El Paso Texas Dee Margo. And Mayor, let me start with you. The president has declared, or is going to declare tomorrow a national emergency. What do you think about it?
MAY. DEE MARGO, (R) EL PASO, TEXAS: I`m not sure how you define national emergency. There is an issue with migrants coming over. We`re -- today, we were 530 were released in El Paso, and that`s a significant increase. Lately, it`s been 300 to 400, but we`re having and more. And my concern is are the Enunciation House, our NGO, it`s at capacity. And 500 is kind of the limit.
HAYES: And these are mostly Central American families?
MARGO: Right. They are families. They are processed by ICE. And, you know, your viewers need to understand we have law enforcement and then we have there is -- where HHS is the entity is that`s involved with the care or feeding of these migrants, but we`re doing it through an NGO.
HAYES: You know, one of the things that is very clear, Jacob, and the mayor is talking about, is that there is something different that is happening. It started in 2015 really but it`s really intensified, which is the kinds of crossings, where people coming from, and the mismatch between that and the capacity legal, judicial, social services to deal with that.
JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC: But why? And how did we get here is the question we have to ask. And you have to look back all the way to Bill Clinton to understand how our border enforcement -- and Beto O`Rourke got into a little bit with you, basically led to this point. And the answer is deterrence. Bill Clinton put into place a policy called prevention through deterrence in 1993 and built the first wave of infrastructure, and led to people crossing in the desert, more dangerous and deadly routes and dying.
Donald Trump put a much more aggressive deterrence policy into place, the separation policy that you and I reported on and stood together and saw with our own eyes in South Texas. The idea that there is no connection to enforcement and then the migration flows is pretty ridiculous, preposterous if you ask me.
And Donald Trump, we`ve got to say over and over again, the crisis that`s happening out here, is a humanitarian one, it`s certainly happening, but it`s directly connected to enforcement policies of the United States. They`re are trying to avoid the border patrol. They are trying to get into the country, and they`re coming for a very legitimate reason. The government is stopping that from happening, and that`s why we`re seeing what we`re seeing today.
HAYES: You just said something about this happens at a bunch of different border towns, happens in McAllen, there will be some, often religious community, that processes and deals with folks that are coming through when they get released. They then go and they find them bus tickets or they go and they stick around here.
You don`t strike me as someone who is scared of that, or thinks that`s a threat to the wellbeing of the people of El Paso.
MORGAN: Well, we`re not having any issues. You`ve reported a number of times that we are the safest city under FBI crime statistics for a population greater than 500,000, and have been for many years.
Although, a physical structure like a fence is part of, you know, control of the borders, which we need. But he real root problem is we`re dealing with the symptoms of a root problem and that`s lack of migration -- immigration reform in Washington, D.C. They`ve had 30 years to do it, and no one has shown any intestinal fortitude on either side of the aisle, so both are culpable, and something has got to be done, between DACA`s, Dreamers, those that are already here, and what we`re doing out of Central America.
HAYES: We should note there was a deal on the table back in March of last year...
SOBOROFF: $25 billion.
HAYES: $25 billion for the wall to deal with DACA and Dreamers, and maybe more than tat. The president scotched it by calling for massive restrictions to legal immigration.
SOBOROFF: And let`s just talk about resources. The mayor makes an excellent point, if at Piedras Negras (ph), or at Tijuana, the money spent on enforcement was put towards actually processing people instead of metering them, they`d be able to come into the country using the legal asylum process, be processed, be safe, be healthy, and not just put back into Mexico into one the most cities, including that one, one of them, in Mexico tonight.
HAYES: Jacob Soboroff and Mayor Dee Margo, who is the mayor of this great town of El Paso, thank you for coming by.
MARGO: You bet.
SOBOROFF: Thank you.
HAYES: Lights are all on as night falls here in El Paso, and there is no obvious emergency in site. Our special All In America: Live from our Southern Border continues right after this.
HAYES: It appears the border legislation is on its way to passing the House of Representatives at this hour, going to the president next for his signature. And something you hear the president say sometimes to some of his supporters is, if you don`t have a border, you don`t have a country. And in some sense, sure, that`s true, borders are constituative (ph) features of the modern nation state, but the question before the U.S. is not does it have a border or not, it`s what kind of border we will have. For most of its existence, the southern border had nowhere near the massive security apparatus it has developed in the last 20 years. In fact, the fencing behind me that separates El Paso and Juarez was only built in 2008.
A lot of people, for decades and decades, used to just come and go -- come for work, return home to their families, sometimes seasonally.
In fact, U.S. immigration policy for much of this country`s entire history was the kind of open borders policy basically anyone not enslaved could more or less show up. The country had a border then, too, and it certainly existed as a country.
And then another thing you hear not just from the president, but really from politicians across the political spectrum is we need to secure the border. And yet, no one ever seems to define what the heck that means, what is the goal that you want to reach?
What it means in practice is always more, more money, more fencing, more drones, more technology, more border patrol, more enforcement, more punitive measures. And yet somehow it is quite literally never enough, and that is because for many, most importantly this president, his base and his advisers, it`s not about the border and it never has been. And you know that, because as soon as they were offered a $25 billion package for the border wall, the White House derailed the talks by demanding a drastic reduction in legal immigration.
He could have had money for the wall, but the wall is not the issue, and the border, this very real stretch of land with people and families and businesses and churches on both sides of the line is not the issue. The issue is what this country as a whole looks like and who gets to call it theirs, which is why the wall will never be built and always be needed, why the border will actually never be secured but always need to be secured.
It`s because America cannot be and will not be, one hopes, the kind of nation that those folks want, the president, his advisors, one bound fundamentally by ethnic and racial affiliation rather than a collective vision of a vision of a free society. The border is not what we need secure, what we want is for people to be secure. We want people to feel secure. And that, that`s hard. And getting there and all it would mean is something that no amount of fencing is ever going to provide.
That does it for our special edition of ALL IN America.
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