The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert sparred with Fox News host Chris Wallace on his program Thursday over immigration and the migrant caravan that President Donald Trump has made the centerpiece of his midterm election messaging.
Colbert condemned Trump’s “fear-stoking speech” on immigration Thursday, in which the president vowed to order the U.S. military to open fire on migrants who throw rocks or stones at the southern border and challenged Wallace to argue the “good part” of the president’s remarks.
“Fear of the caravan is not good,” Wallace said, “but the idea that three, or five, or seven thousand people from another country can just walk up to our border, knock on the door, and say, ‘We want in. We want to take jobs here, we want to work here.’ No.”
“A country does need to have borders and there does need to be some kind of system that determines whether people are allowed in the country or not,” he continued. “Seriously, do you believe in open borders?”
“No, we don’t have an open border,” Colbert replied. “There is a system, and three to five thousand people will not make it here. This has happened many times before, and they never do, and you know that. And you know that there is a system in place, and there is a legal system, and we have laws that allow asylum. So I believe in the law. Do you believe in the law, Chris Wallace?”
“Uh, yeah sure, I believe in the law,” Wallace said.
“OK, then I accept your apology then,” Colbert joked.
“No, because of the fact that under the asylum rules now, if somebody comes in and they say, ‘We have credible fear of persecution,’ what happens?” Wallace asked. “They are put out into the country, we don’t have enough places to put them, so we do have a catch-and-release program, and about 10 percent of the people that are caught and released return for their hearings. And only about 10 percent get legitimate asylum.”
“I’m not sure that that’s true. Those aren’t the facts that I’ve seen,” Colbert responded.
“We’ve got a long interview. By the time this is over we’ll know whether you’re right, okay?” he added.
Wallace immediately started backpedaling: “I may be wrong… Only 10 percent of the people who seek asylum are granted asylum.”
“Well, that’s different than what you said,” Colbert noted.
“Well, I said two things,” Wallace said. “I said that and I also said”—
“That they don’t show up for their hearing,” Colbert fired back.
“A lot of them don’t,” said Wallace.
“If a majority show up for their hearing, how wrong would you be?” Colbert asked.
“I would be about 40 percent wrong,” confessed Wallace, with a nervous grin.
After a commercial break, a Late Show researcher handed Colbert the statistics from PolitiFact, and according to Justice Department data, 60 percent to 70 percent of non-detained immigrants attended immigration-court proceedings.
“So you were 50-60% wrong,” Colbert said.
Watch the two-part interview, below: