White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders found herself in the surprising position on Tuesday of being pressed hard by a Fox News host when Harris Faulkner took her to task over President Trump’s recent immigration comments to far-right media outlet Breitbart.
During a Breitbart interview, Trump asserted that most immigrants are a drain on America’s social safety net, asserting that he does not “want people that need welfare.”
“I don’t like the idea of people coming in and going on welfare for 50 years, and that’s what they want to be able to do—and it’s no good,” Trump added, further claiming that Democrats want increased immigration simply to “get votes.”
Speaking Tuesday afternoon with Sanders on Fox News’ Outnumbered Overtime, Faulkner noted that Trump had “lit up social media” with his comments, asking the press secretary if the president was trying to suggest that immigrants who come to America legally “can’t use the resources that Americans use.”
The White House flack said that Trump “doesn’t want to stop” helping “people all over the globe” as the United States is the “most generous and hospitable country,” but he does not want immigrants that will be “dependent on the government for the next 50 years.”
She added: “We don’t have the resources to care for Americans the way that we should.”
As Faulkner—who often straddles the thin Fox News line between opinion host and “hard news” anchor—expressed concern for the president’s tone and choice of words, Sanders stated that Trump has been clear that he wants a “merit-based system” of immigration.
“And if they come to this country with a merit-based system, are you saying they have to be rich when they get here?” Faulkner questioned the Trump spokeswoman.
“Not at all, he wants people to be empowered,” a somewhat flustered Sanders replied. “He wants people who won’t forever be dependent on the system. That's actually one of the greatest things about America, that we don't want people dependent on the system.”
The Fox News anchor interjected, wondering aloud how the administration can “forecast some of that.” Sanders, meanwhile, concluded by saying that the desire for immigrants to be successful is “getting lost in the debate.”