Amid reports of asylum-seeking migrants being sprayed with tear gas as they tried to cross the U.S. border over the weekend, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich offered his own unfounded theory for the unrest: American leftists are financing a “war on the border” in an attempt to “embarrass” the government.
“This war on the border is real,” Gingrich insisted Monday morning on Fox & Friends. “And what people are trying to do is a psychological war, very often guided, by the way, by American leftists who are activists and American left-wing organizations who are helping finance it.”
The former Georgia lawmaker appeared to be referencing a popular far-right conspiracy theory that some progressives, including liberal billionaire and political donor George Soros, are financing the migrant caravan for political gain.
On Monday, Gingrich went a step further, insisting the left’s goal for mobilizing thousands of Central Americans is to embarrass the U.S. by making it seem like the government cannot control its border.
“Their goal is to find some way to embarrass the U.S. government so we can’t even control our own border,” he said, responding to Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy’s question about whether Congress should interfere. “We have to be prepared to stand up to that and to do whatever is necessary. I mean, you’re either going to have a country and have a border or you’re not going to have a country.”
The claim is the latest effort by Fox News to stoke fears about the thousands Central American migrants who are seeking asylum at the U.S. border. The migrant caravan—which Trump and other Republican lawmakers once called a national-security crisis—is still at the center of the conversation on the network, despite largely dropping off as a GOP talking point after the midterm elections.
Over the weekend, images showed U.S. Border Patrol agents firing tear gas at migrants who tried to cross the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry between Tijuana and San Diego. But that didn’t stop the hosts of Fox & Friends—Donald Trump’s favorite unofficial advisers—and their guests from continuing their anti-immigration rhetoric.
In an attempt to justify the use of controversial crowd-control sprays, conservative commentator and NRATV host Dan Bongino praised Trump for being the only “prominent Republican speaking out” against the caravan.
“I don’t mean to be hyperbolic about it, but clearly what happened yesterday were people trying to invade our border,” he said on Fox & Friends Monday. “What do you believe?”
Later in the show, Border Patrol Foundation President Rob Colburn argued that agents were using a “natural” pepper spray that is so harmless, it’s edible.
“It’s literally water, pepper, with a small amount of alcohol for evaporation purposes,” Colburn said. “It’s natural. You could actually put it on your nachos and eat it.”
To the conservative network’s dismay, migrants continued attempting to enter the U.S. on Monday, prompting Trump to threaten to permanently shut down the southern border.
“Mexico should move the flag waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it anyway you want, but they are NOT coming into the U.S.A. We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!”
This threat, Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano admitted Monday, is actually illegal and not within Trump’s powers as president.
“He cannot legally do it,” Napolitano told Fox News anchor Sandra Smith, citing federal statutes. “He doesn’t have to tolerate lawlessness, and certainly the officials at the border can use reasonable resistance to lawlessness.
“But the law says if you have a bonafide asylum claim, meaning you’re escaping a government that is pursuing you, or escaping a government that is failing to enforce basic law and order, you can enter the United States,” he continued. “The president doesn’t want to hear this but this is the law.”
But Gingrich didn’t seem concerned by the illegality of Trump’s threat, praising the president at the end of his segment while predicting the move would not be received well by Trump’s favorite enemy: the media.
“I think President Trump is doing the right thing, and I think it’s sad,” Gingrich said. “I bet you that the elite media spends a lot more time today on what's happening on the border than they’re going to spend on the death of a young American who was killed by an illegal immigrant.”