Arizona GOP Rep. Debbie Lesko responds to Trump's declaration of national emergency

The congresswoman, who represents Arizona's 8th Congressional District, talks to ABC News about her support for the president's border security proposals.
8:28 | 03/06/19

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Transcript for Arizona GOP Rep. Debbie Lesko responds to Trump's declaration of national emergency
We were just watching an extraordinary hearing today several hours of testimony by the Homeland Security secretary Christian Nielsen. Her first appearance before democratic controlled committee in the House of Representatives. And there were so many questions Quinn not only about the treatment of migrants in custody the president's emergency declaration. Children in detention centers but these numbers which the administration just release in the past 24 hours. Showing a remarkable surge of migrants apprehended at the southern border in the month of February. And a record number of families Quinn 66000. Individuals the 36000. Family units and that's a record. That's right the number of family units is really the thing to note here because overall the increase in migrants coming to the board the general number. Is an entirely unprecedented there were similar flows similar high flows even some higher totals during the Bush Administration but the challenge that is presented. In the re in recent months is the increase of family units because of course when you have kids. That's and up in CB be cut CPB custody Customs and Border Protection. They run into issues with. The length of time that they have to detain them there's a limit on how long you can keep it kid in US custody. And there's also a whole variety of medical issues that come up in and having to deal was yet. I'm very delicate situation and the Homeland Security secretary today. Was defending the agency's treatment of these families in these children insane there a law enforcement agency they weren't set up. To handle family units detained Stanley units she also was pushing back. On criticism about policy of separating parents from their children which has since ended it was certainly controversial few months back we'll get into that. I today here on the show who want to start with. And member of the committee is joining us now Republican of Arizona WS go sits on the house homeland security committee congressman it's great to see you. I wanna start. I'm not asking you about the president's emergency declaration in his efforts to secure eight billion dollars in funding from the wall you heard. The secretary talk alluded about that today. On as the president embarks on this effort are you are you confident that that amount of money is sufficient. And what how much of Wallace going to be a new wall will be built in Arizona. Yes I support the president's. Because we do have a crisis that our southern border Agassi just that I'm from the stadium bears are now border state. I bend down to the border. Yeah I've talked to they boots on the ground the customs and Border Patrol agents and their supervisors they officials. And I asked them straight down. Do we need a fans as part of the solution to this crisis basic idea us. And then if you heard me and committee today I asked secretary Nielsen if she believes that there is a crisis and emergency and our southern border. Did she say yes and that she supports the president's declaration I believe he was forced to do it. Now as far as the amount of money and I think this is going to be a good start. I've been told by Department of Homeland Security they have given us a list of the prioritize the areas where they want to build the wall first and one of those areas is in Yuma Arizona. And so there's quite a bit in Texas. But I think Yuma Arizona we'll get some of the fence built there as well eight any idea how soon though break ground that sent him. I do not know how thin and that will break ground now now first of course. The aid the president has statue it wary statutory authority to transfer some of the money is with out. The declaration of emergency. A baton. I hope that he can get all of the money I think part of this is going to be tied up in the courts and I'll ultimately probably go to the United States Supreme Court. For that decision but you now again. I've been down into the border I'm from a border state. There is a crisis center border and as you have sat in this newscast. Is that. Our immigration laws also have to be changed because what's happening is they're loose asylum laws. Are actually incentivizing. Thousands of people to come to the United States. Because they know that once they cross the border ask for asylum and if they bring children went down. That they can only be held in custody for twenty days and that's part of the system they know our lives the cartels are giving them tips. I'm how to take advantage of our lives. And it's really bad because one out of every three women that are that migrants that are coming these thousands of miles. Is being sexually assaulted. Today you've heard from secretary Nielsen. That they have to task girls as young as ten years old with pregnancy test because they're afraid that they've been sexually assaulted. By these coyotes. That are you know doing human trafficking getting paid about 6000. Dollars her purse and to cart these people thousands of miles it's it's it's a real. It can't ensure it right truly stunning to hear her say that also. Her talking about the need this is gonna have to test medically. Test all these children because so many are crossing would medical conditions and injuries and a light. What what you two draw down a lot of it on on the administration's. Strategy to try to get their arms around this one approach they took as you were as you know well. Up from year ago was what the administration called zero tolerance policy of these families came across the in many cases separating children from their parents because as used noted children can't be put. In. In jails and prisons. Under federal law so they have to be held in separate places in that caused this crisis. Democrats have been so critical of that policy want to start by playing just a little bit of one exchange with the secretary today over this issue and ask your response. Were you aware that the zero tolerance policy would be to minors being separated from their parents yes are now. As the increase consequences for those who break the law justice asks Larry. Look and I have such limited time on secretary I'm sure you can appreciate that as a as an honest answer is parent going to jail we in this country do not take the children to jail. So I take that is a yes that you understood. The. So the answer is yes. Lot of passion there congressman Danny Roscoe home Arizona Ari are you satisfied that based on what you heard and seen. But how the administration has handled these children. Well you know that was in the past as you know the zero tolerance policy that president changed that after he got bipartisan push back. When children were separated from their parents. Sad now I believe there's only six children and haven't been read you die he did with the periods or some type of guardian and that's because they literally can't find and there are certain legal. I situations. The senate dot. Situation it was from a while ago last year it's been rectified I have times news some of these homes. That take care of unaccompanied children and I have to say that that winds and it went to there was one in Virginia. I can't it's the very well run the very nice facility they educate their children very nice accommodations. And they're waiting there until they kidding. Be placed in a sponsor column it's usually with relatives. Again but Department of Homeland Security as secretary Nielsen says cast to check out the background. Of these sponsors to make sure that the home is safe for these children. Again this is really a crisis AI. Congress really needs to work in a bipartisan. Fashion. To change the laws because you can build fences which I approve that I think dances part of the answer he he'd have more Border Patrol agents. But you also need to change or immigration lives. And congressman it indeed this is an initiative needs a lot of bipartisan attention you can only here on that. On the end and on that front Newtown and appreciate your time.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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