Mar 11, 2021
Kevin McCarthy, House GOP Press Conference on “Biden’s Border Crisis” Transcript March 11
House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House GOP members held a press conference on March 11, 2021 to discuss “Biden’s border crisis”. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Kevin McCarthy: (00:54)
Thank you all. As you see hear along the border, we see that Biden’s policy has created a border crisis because on his very first day of this administration, it wasn’t a plan to open up American business or American schools, President Biden announced that it was his priority to offer citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants. What did he think would happen? Just last month alone 100,000 migrants were encountered attempting to illegally cross our border. Put that in perspective, 100,000, that’s a larger population than President Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. The number of migrant children detained at the border had tripled in two weeks. They’re in jail-like cells. The number of migrants who have tested positive for coronavirus after being released by the border patrol in Texas has nearly doubled.
Kevin McCarthy: (01:54)
As Republicans, we know how to solve this problem. We could work with administrations to make it happen. Last week, I sent a letter to the president asking to sit down with him to work on ideas, to reverse some of the misuse and misdirected policies that he had attempted at the beginning in creating this crisis. As of today, he still has not answered our letter to attempt to meet. Next week we’ll be traveling to the border myself with the 12 other members to see firsthand, to come back with solutions, to make sure our border is secure, but to make sure we can end this crisis that Biden has created. And with that, I want to introduce our Republican Whip Steve Scalise.
Steve Scalise: (02:42)
Thank you, Kevin. We’re very concerned about this crisis at the border that has been created specifically by Joe Biden’s policies. President Biden’s border crisis has got to get reversed. If you look at where we are right now, you have thousands of people crossing illegally into the United States every single day. Those border states are getting overrun. It’s a drain on their resources. There are super spreader caravans coming across. And this was all done by President Biden and President Biden can address and reverse this policy. And we’re calling on President Biden to reverse his policy that’s created this Biden border crisis.
Steve Scalise: (03:21)
It’s not very complicated. When you look at what president Trump had done, the Remain in Mexico policy was an example of a president working with our neighbor, in this case Mexico, to solve a problem that not only existed at America’s border, but it’s created a new problem at Mexico’s Southern border because many of the people coming across in these caravans are coming through Central and South American countries through Mexico. And so the original policy to remain in Mexico while asylum cases, for example, would be worked out, was a much more humane process. And in fact, reduced what we’re seeing right now.
Steve Scalise: (03:57)
In these caravans, you have young women who are being exploited. The human trafficking is getting out of control and the abuse of these women should be a major concern. Again, this is something that President Biden created and he can fix this today by reversing the order. He’s got to recognize the policy failed. Any good leader would look in the mirror and if they made a mistake, they would acknowledge this as a mistake and they would fix it because he himself can fix this right now. First step though is to admit that there is a crisis. It seems like the White House right now is in denial about the crisis.
Steve Scalise: (04:32)
As it stands, President Biden himself won’t even go to the border. He sent a group of people down. He wouldn’t even meet with them for days because I think he wants to ignore this problem. The problem’s getting worse. It’s getting worse and it’s dramatically affecting other states. When you think about the fact that right now President Biden is implementing policies that are keeping schools closed, yet he sent a message around South and Central America that our border is open. That’s the wrong message. It’s the wrong message for America, and it’s doing a disservice to those people in those caravans who were being abused every single day. It’s got to stop. President Biden created this prop problem. President Biden needs to fix this problem, with that I’ll bring up our conference chair, Liz Cheney.
Liz Cheney: (05:17)
Thanks very much whip, and thanks leader. We have to recognize that words have consequences and actions have consequences. When the Biden administration refuses to enforce our immigration laws, when they refuse to build the wall, when they pass legislation like the bill that we passed yesterday that includes money for illegal immigrants. This is what happens. What happens and what’s going on right now at the border is foreseeable. It’s a foreseeable consequence of their statements, of their policies. They caused this. They are responsible. And Speaker Pelosi is compounding the issue and she is compounding the danger to the American people.
Liz Cheney: (05:57)
Simultaneously, we are seeing the Biden administration open borders. We are seeing the Democrats in the House under Speaker Pelosi move to defund the police, move to infringe on the gun rights of law abiding citizens. All of this combines to form a very dangerous and toxic mix. And when you are the president of the United States, when you are sitting in the White House, it’s not enough to express concern about the challenge. It’s not enough to ignore the challenge. It’s an abdication of your responsibility if you ignore the challenge.
Liz Cheney: (06:33)
So, we’re calling on the Biden administration to take action immediately to secure the border, to stop what we’re seeing happen, to change the policies, to make clear that the hundreds of thousands of people that we’ve seen now attempting to enter the country illegally will not be able to do so. They need to reiterate and recommit to protecting and securing the nation and to protecting the American people. And with that, I will yield to the Republican leader of the Homeland Security Committee, Mr. Katko.
John Katko: (07:09)
Thank you everybody. What we are witnessing of course is Biden’s border crisis. If you want to think of it another way, it’s disorder at the border by executive order, to channel Dr. Seuss.
random person: (07:22)
Say that again?
John Katko: (07:22)
Disorder at the border by executive order. I can say at five times fast. President Biden’s knee-jerk reversal of productive and effective border security policies from the previous administration was a political calculation that has created humanitarian, security and public health crisis. Instead of being transparent with Congress and the American people about what is happening at the border, the administration is twisting itself into our pretzel to avoid saying the dreaded word, crisis. All we heard out of the White House yesterday was a refusal to take responsibility and yet to be revealed long-term objectives. That’s not an answer to this crisis. We are a nation of laws, but instead of enforcing the law, here’s what administration has chosen to do: halt border wall construction in its tracks, re-implement the dreadful catch and release program policies allowing migrants to flow in United States raise up their hands, say the magic word asylum and they’re paroled in the United States.
John Katko: (08:16)
Once they know that’s acceptable, they’re going to be coming in droves. And we already see that with the facts. They’ve eliminated the critical Remain in Mexico policy, which is humane and is working. And it canceled the Asylum Cooperative Agreements with the Central American partners. That’s what they’ve done. What they haven’t done is admit that it’s caused a crisis and the facts speak for themselves. And let me just give you a couple of facts.
John Katko: (08:36)
Last month, CBP encountered over 100,000 individuals seeking the cross the Southwest border. That’s a 28% increase in just one month, and 173% higher than the same time just one year ago. Another fact for you, CBP currently counters an average of more than 3000 individuals a day. When Jeh Johnson was secretary of Homeland Security, he said 1000 individuals coming across the border a day is, “A bad day.” Another fact, hundreds of border patrol agents are being diverted from interior drug checkpoints in the Northern coastal borders to Rio Grande Valley. The administration is even asking for people to volunteer to come to the border to help with the, can’t say the word, but it is. It’s a crisis. International travel, you can’t come from England by plane. If you fly from Mexico by plane you first have to have a test to show you’re COVID free. Yet you can walk across the border and come right in. What is wrong with us? What are we doing, right?
John Katko: (09:35)
The high volume of the unaccompanied children encountered at the border continues to rise. Reports indicate, CBP is projecting 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border per month by May. At health and human services facilities are reaching capacity. So, what are they doing? They’re checking with NASA and the Department of Defense to find warehouses to put all these unaccompanied children they’re coming across the border because Biden put a Come On In sign on the border. That is not right. All of this was predictable. These politically motivated policies have created a crisis that must be reversed. I’ll stop with what I said at the beginning, there’s disorder at the border because of his executive order. And let me introduce the next speaker, Kay Granger.
Kay Granger: (10:28)
I’ve been to the border many times as the head of the 2014 task force created to address the alarming number of unaccompanied children come in the border. I’ve seen firsthand what a border crisis looks like. So, believe me when I say we’re once again facing a crisis on our Southern border. Not only has the Biden administration repeatedly failed to recognize the crisis even exist, they’ve stopped construction of the border wall, virtually eliminated enforcement of immigration laws and reverse Trump administration policies that were so successful in decreasing illegal crossings over the last few years. Just last week, the secretary of Homeland security had a troubling and confusing message to those seeking to cross our border illegally. He said, “We’re not saying don’t come. We’re saying don’t come now.” This will only encourage more illegal crossings at the Southern border from those expecting easy access to our nation, overwhelming the law enforcement and increasing the potential for human trafficking, child labor, and other criminal and fraudulent activity in border cities across the Southwest.
Kay Granger: (11:44)
We can’t ignore the problem and hope it goes away. Instead of addressing this crisis, Speaker Pelosi has spent the last few weeks on a trillion dollar payout to progressives. I urge the speaker and the Biden administration to get their heads out of the sand and work with us to address this crisis immediately.
Jodey Arrington: (12:12)
Jodey Arrington, West Texas. I want to thank our ranking member, John “All rhyme, no rhythm” Katko. The American people are well-served to have this man at the helm. He is a former prosecutor. He understands what rule of law means to our great nation and what happens when you don’t enforce the laws. You get chaos. And as a Texan, I’m telling you our people are crying out for help. They’re struggling. They’re scared, and they’re not getting any response, any leadership out of this president. And we are on the front lines in Texas and border States. Our people, your fellow Americans, are at ground zero in this unmitigated disaster. This is a self-inflicted crisis as a direct result of the Biden administration policies. The unilateral actions, the deluge of executive orders as has been said, reinstating catch and release, rescinding border wall funding, and stay in Mexico policies, just to name a few. Policies have consequences. You show me a policy and I’ll show you the outcome. And the outcome of these policies have wreaked havoc along the border and in border communities.
Jodey Arrington: (13:39)
Double the apprehensions in January, CBP reported just yesterday over 100,000 apprehensions, illegal crossings that we caught in the month of February. Triple the number of migrant children being trafficked across the border by cartels. They’re pawns, ladies and gentlemen. These cartels prey on these vulnerable people and the abuses are atrocious. One in every three women are sexually assaulted. It’s a humanitarian crisis of epic proportion. The message from this president who fails to call it a crisis because he has the worst case of suspended reality I’ve ever seen. The message is clear. The safety and security of the American people is not his top priority and the message to people who would come to our country and violate our laws and our sovereignty and jeopardize the safety and security of the American people will not be detained and deported. They will be released and rewarded free healthcare, free education, compliments of the taxpayers of the United States. And oh, by the way, with this latest Democrat bill, they’ll get a pathway to citizenship. And we wonder why the border is burning.
Jodey Arrington: (15:12)
Last question, the most important question for all of you to ask the president. And I know it’s the question on the hearts and minds of the American people. Why is it happening? Why is the president allowing this to happen? Well, I believe it’s because, number one, he’s obsessed with undoing everything, every policy that has the name Donald Trump on it, regardless of the merits of that policy. He’s equally obsessed with acquiescing to every demand of the radical left. I yield back.
Debbie Lesko: (15:50)
Good morning. I’m Debbie Lesko, congresswomen from the great border state of Arizona. And I’m here to tell you right from the mouths of Arizona law enforcement officers, that there is a crisis at the Southern border. And the reason that I know that is because the Yuma mayor, the Yuma Arizona sheriff, the Cochise County Arizona sheriff have said that mass amounts of illegal immigrants are flooding over the border, ICE facilities are overcrowded, thousands of unaccompanied children many of them not even tested for COVID are being released into their communities. They have reached out to the Biden administration.
Debbie Lesko: (16:45)
Our Arizona attorney general, who joined a lawsuit that the court has held up, has adjusted his lawsuit just yesterday because of the Biden policies on ICE and this is from Attorney General Brnovich from Arizona. “If asked about the poorest policy choice I’ve ever seen in government, this would be a strong contender, blindly releasing thousands of people, including convicted criminals, and those who may be spreading COVID-19 into our state is both unconscionable and a violation of federal law. This must be stopped now to avoid a dangerous humanitarian crisis for the immigrants and the people of Arizona.”
Debbie Lesko: (17:40)
Last time I went down to Yuma, Arizona, the Yuma Arizona sheriff showed me a date tree farm, where he has been called, he and his officers, multiple times because immigrant women and girls are being raped. They’re being raped by that cartels who don’t give a damn about these people, all they care about the money. So, the Biden’s policies are incentivizing this, they’re incentivizing these poor people to flood across our border, travel thousands of miles at the hands of the cartel. I would say the Biden administration is culpable of child abuse and abuse of these women and children, and it needs to be stopped. And with that, I introduce the great Congressman from Texas, Tony Gonzales.
Tony Gonzales: (18:44)
America is beautiful and what makes us beautiful, we are a nation of immigrants. We’re also a nation of laws. Border security and legal immigration go hand in hand. My district is over 800 miles of Texas and Mexico border. I’m on the border every single week. And what I’ve seen is this administration’s open border rhetoric has caused a crisis. And I urge this administration to listen to those that are on the border, Democrats and Republicans alike, listen to the crisis that has occurred. We’re traveling to the border again early next week. I urge the Biden administration to take hold and focus on legal immigration, not illegal immigration. With that I turn it over to Yvette Herrell.
Yvette Herrell: (19:42)
Thank you. Thank you for being here. Just a quick question to get it in perspective. I see most of you have some kind of lanyard on your neck. Did you have to go through any kind of security to get here? I bet you did. So, you’re going to go through security to get into the Pelosi compound, and yet people are walking across the border just freely. It is a huge problem at the border crisis. And I’ll bet most of you have had to have a COVID test before you could come in and do any kind of coverage at the inauguration or anything like that. Guess what? That’s not happening at the border. And the reason we need to stand in support of the PAUSE Act is because we need the Biden administration to keep Title 42 in place so that we can protect the citizens of our nation.
Yvette Herrell: (20:25)
This has nothing to do with politics. The PAUSE Act is actually about protecting the health and safety of the American people. We’re asking him, let our border patrol agents expel those coming into the nation illegally through Mexico or Canada on the border so that we can protect our seniors, our children, our communities. It is not fair that we have been in a mask situation, in lockdown, closed businesses. 2000 businesses in my state will not recover because of COVID-19. Loved ones are dying alone. We’re not educating our kids. And yet we think it’s a good idea to somehow open the border and put not only the American people, but those making that trek across the countries to get here in harms way. It doesn’t make sense. But what I can tell you is with the Biden border crisis, what this administration has done, and make no mistake they have made the federal government the last link in the chain of human smuggling for these children. So, let’s do what is right for the people of America for change. Let’s get our priorities set because let’s not forget we work for the people of America, not for the illegals and not just for Nancy Pelosi and her policies. Let’s protect Americans first. Thank you.
John Katko: (21:47)
That concludes the speeches. Thank you all very much for coming and just remember, get the administration to call it a crisis because that’s what it is. Thank you very much, everybody.