Mar 26, 2021
Senate GOP Press Conference Transcript on Mexico Border Trip March 26
Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Lindsey Graham, and other Republican Senators held a press conference on March 26, 2021 from the US-Mexico border. They discussed immigration and the conditions at migrant facilities, and criticized President Joe Biden for the conditions. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Senator Cornyn: (04:17)
Well, good afternoon, everybody. It’s great for Senator Cruz and I to be back in the great state of Texas and particularly in the beautiful, vibrant, and exciting Rio Grande Valley. We of course come here often and value the friendships and the work that we get a chance to do together on a bipartisan basis. Of course, what brings us here now is this immediate humanitarian crisis. The Border Patrol and Health and Human Services, all the government officials tell us they are doing the best they can, but they’re being overwhelmed by sheer numbers. And the smugglers and the cartels are doing this on purpose, because they know getting paid by the head for as many people as they can get into the country, covering border patrol up with children to take care of, taking them off the frontline presents an opportunity for them to smuggle drugs, methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl into the United States.
Senator Cornyn: (05:19)
So we thought it was really important to be able to bring our colleagues from the Senate who are not from border states, who don’t get to come here as often as Senator Cruz and I do to show them this great region. And it’s been a wonderful day. We’ve got here last night, had a chance to go out on some nighttime operations with the Border Patrol. But it’s great to welcome them, but here’s here’s the bottom line: the border patrol and health and human services and the non-governmental organizations that are struggling to deal with this flood of humanity, tell us they cannot get ahead of this flood humanity without policy changes in Washington, DC. The smugglers, the drug runners, they understand our laws and they know how to exploit them to their benefit. So ending catch and release, making sure people with legitimate claims get to present them to an immigration judge, I think should be a priority. And then perhaps we can begin to look at other parts of our broken immigration system, but I’m very proud of the fact that we have such an enthusiastic turnout among all of these great colleagues in the United States Senate. I’m glad they’re here. I think you’ll hear from them. They had a great educational experience. Let me turn it over to my colleague and friend, Senator Cruz.
Senator Cruz: (06:38)
Thank you, John. It’s great to be back in the Rio Grande Valley. It is terrific that John and I were able to bring 18 senators down to Texas down to the Valley to see firsthand the crisis that is unfolding here. All of us today witnessed the Biden cages. What is occurring here on the border is heartbreaking and it is a tragedy. As we stand by the banks of the Rio Grande, we have an army of TV cameras here. It is striking that not a single one of these cameras is allowed in the Donna facility.
Senator Cruz: (07:16)
We requested that media accompany and us in the facility. The Biden the administration said, no. The Trump administration had allowed media inside facilities like that. The Obama administration allowed media inside facilities like that. The George W. Bush administration had, the Bill Clinton administration had. But the Biden administration wants to hide what is going on here. Not only that, but a number of us took pictures and took videos because the American people have a right to know what is happening here. And the Biden administration set down political handlers to try to keep silent, to try to keep the American people not knowing what’s going on. The Donna facility is a giant tent city built with a capacity of 250, it has nearly 4,000 people in it.
Senator Cruz: (08:09)
We saw cages, after cages, after cages of little girls of little boys lying side by side, touching each other, covered with reflective emergency blankets. There was no six foot space. There was no three-foot space. There wasn’t a three inch space between the children lined up one after the other, after the other. And children, as young as infants, we saw playpens with infants and toddlers playing. We also saw a group of children who just today tested positive for COVID-19.
Senator Cruz: (08:46)
The Donna facility alone reports roughly 10% of the individuals being held there are testing positive for COVID 19. Rates dramatically higher than the US population. And the Biden administration is taking people who are testing positive for COVID-19 and locking them in cages side by side. This is inhumane. It is wrong, and it is the direct consequence of policy decisions by the Biden administration to stop building the wall, to return to catch and release and to end the Stay in Mexico Policy. A number of us are releasing those photographs and releasing those videos so the American people can see what’s happening here. This needs to stop. It is a crisis, it is a tragedy and it is a man made crisis. This was avoidable. This was preventable. And regardless of your party, Republican or Democrat, you should look at what’s going on here and say, “Enough is enough. This must stop.” Senator Johnson.
Senator Johnson: (09:44)
Thanks Ted. Well, I want to thank Ted and John for making this trip available to the rest of us. It was incredibly informative, incredibly instructive, very sobering. And as Ted said, I think really preventable. This shouldn’t have happened. And I think one of the lessons we learned is that if you don’t build it, they will come. When you don’t finish the job and secure the border, you’re inviting people into this country. And many of the changes made by the current administration, they were forewarned that this would happen. They were told in advance, this was predictable, that you going to have thousands of people flooding across the border.
Senator Johnson: (10:26)
And the thing that’s probably most concerning, and I say this with all due respect to our Border Patrol folks is that they spend so much time just taking care of people who come here illegally, they can’t stop the bad people, the smugglers, the drug smugglers, the human traffickers. And when you’re devoting as much time as they are to taking care and supervising and trying to keep safe, all those people who are sitting in these facilities down here, it really is a sad day.
Senator Johnson: (10:54)
We need a change in our policy. I am grateful to the Border Patrol for just the tremendous job that they do. I’m sure it seems like a very thankless job, even on a good day. And there aren’t many good days when you have thousands of people coming across the border. But we appreciate their work. They’re trying to keep our country safe and secure. We need to help them by putting good policies in place and getting away from these failed policies that have been implemented by the Biden administration, and they’re leading to this crisis on our border. Thanks.
Speaker 1: (11:32)
We learned from the border patrol that they were asked long time before the inauguration of the new president, their advice on how to handle situations at the borders. We’re told that they were advised more than once not to change the Remain in Mexico Policy. They didn’t take that advice. So we have a crisis at the border because this administration wouldn’t listen to the people that had tens and tens and tens of years of experience with the problems here at the border. So this crisis is because this administration would not listen to good advice. And it’s become a national security problem, a law enforcement problem, a humanitarian problem, and a lot of other things as well. And yet, they want an immigration bill passed. How can you pass an immigration bill when you have an open border? If they want to accomplish anything on immigration and I want to help them, it would be secure the border. You got to stop the bleeding before you can take care of the problem. Thank you.
Senator Barasso: (13:00)
I’m John Barrasso, Senator from the state of Wyoming. We came here-
Senator Barasso: (13:03)
I’m John Barrasso, Senator from the state of Wyoming. We came here for a number of reasons. Number one, we wanted to thank the Border Patrol for the job they do every day and every night. We met with them last night and went on midnight patrol with them. They told us their job got a lot, lot harder on January 20th the day that Joe Biden became president of the United States.
Senator Barasso: (13:23)
As we were with them last night in the darkness across the river, we could see the traffickers and the coyotes and the smugglers on the other side of the river with their bright lights, almost as bright as that television light right there. And there were taunting our border agents saying, “You cannot stop us now.” That’s what our agents are up against as a result of the policies of the Biden administration. Today, we went to the Donna facility and what we saw were young people crammed in like sardines, something none of us would want for any of our own children. And as we tried and did video what was happening there to share with the country in the world, the Biden administration censors tried to stop us.
Senator Barasso: (14:09)
Yesterday, President Biden held a press conference and he said that, “The great majority of families who come here illegally are being sent back.” That’s not true. And either he doesn’t know it or won’t admit it to the American people. The Border Patrol will tell you it’s not true. The senators who are here today will tell you it’s not true. The men and women in the field will tell you it’s not true. It’s time to let the press in to see what is happening. And the tragedy that this administration has brought on to our nation.
Mike Braun: (14:47)
I’m Mike Braun from Indiana hundreds of miles away. We see all this on our own TV sets back home and there’s no substitute for being here. This was an unforced error on the part of the Biden administration. And when you look at what underpins it, it’s a caustic political environment we’ve got that if one side is doing it and it happens to be going well, the other side wants to undo it. In that moment I’ll take back that I’ll never forget is what Senator Barrasso just talked about to think that you got the brazen statement when we’re there, when the Border Patrol is there at midnight that they’re going to keep coming and they’re going to get the best of us.
Mike Braun: (15:33)
That is a sad situation and I’m hoping that there’s enough political will on the other side of the aisle to do what they should’ve done in the first place and that’s not to try to fix something that wasn’t broken and go back to what is working. And you can tell just today in daylight, helicopters, state trooper boats, Border Patrol. And there was something that just between when we went up river and back. That’s how tough it is.
Dan Sullivan: (16:08)
I’m Dan Sullivan in the great state of Alaska. I am literally thousands of miles from home, but this is important to my state for a whole host of reasons. The number one thing I’ve taken out of this trip, and I want to thank Ted Cruz and John Cornyn again is the president of the United States and the vice president United States need to do what we just did. They need to come down here, they need to listen and they need to learn.
Dan Sullivan: (16:36)
Here’s what I’ve learned. We have an upside down border policy in America. What do I mean? We have open borders on the southern border. There’s no doubt. And by the way, the people coming in who are released immediately almost, they’re not tested at all. Open borders, no testing for COVID for the southern border. For the northern border, we have closed borders. My state is facing an economic catastrophe, the great state of Alaska. People want to come travel there even after being vaccinated and we have that border close. What we need is the opposite, a closed border here for the time being and an open border on the northern border. That’s what the president and vice president will learn if they come down here like we did and learn from the people.
Lindsey Graham: (17:35)
So one, Ted and John, this is the most informative trip I’ve ever taken and that’s saying a lot. Why are 18 senators here? Because it’s the biggest issue facing the country in many ways right now. So what have I learned? They knew if the Trump administration has been told something and they did the opposite and it blew up in their face, everybody would be asking the Trump administration, “What did you know and when did you know it?” So I’m going to help you here with your reporting.
Lindsey Graham: (18:07)
Mr. Hastings, who’s a two-star Border Patrol leader told us that he breathed transitioned members of the Biden administration as to what would happen if you do away with the Remain in Mexico policy. He told us they briefed the Biden administration what would happen if you changed the Title 42 laws to allow unaccompanied children to come here and not be sent back home. Everything they said would happen happened. So if you don’t do it, I’m going to do it. I’m going to find out who he talked to and memorialize that conversation and hold them accountable because they knew and when they say this is a Trump problem, they are lying. This is a problem of their own making.
Lindsey Graham: (18:53)
What else have I learned? That Joe Biden, the president made the worse yesterday. This was a nightmare press conference. He told everybody, “Don’t worry. We’ve got crowded facilities. We’re going to build 5,000 more beds in Texas at a military base.” So how does that play in Central America? We’re going to expand the number of people they can take. He said, “When a child has a phone number on their wrists, we’re going to call the family member and unite that family.” This is uniting illegal immigration.
Lindsey Graham: (19:25)
So the last thing I learned is that we’re complicit as a nation in human trafficking. What did we learn last night? There’s a trail on our side of the border with markers placed by the federal government to show illegal immigrants where to go. That we’re transporting people who paid to get here the last mile with your taxpayer dollar. It’s costing about $800 a day per child. If we don’t change the pull factors, go back to the Remain in Mexico policy where they can’t apply for asylum here, send the unaccompanied minor children back to their home country. There will be 250,000 people not coming.
Lindsey Graham: (20:07)
The Border Patrol said there is no end to this. So Vice President Harris, this is your job to fix. I promise you I will work with you, but you cannot possibly understand your job unless you come here. The last thing we’re going to do is introduce a resolution praising the men and women or the Border Patrol and the customs department. I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan 56 times, our soldiers serving incredibly tough conditions. What we’re asking the men and women of the Border Patrol to do is inhumane. They have to deal with things that I don’t know how they make it through the day. I don’t know how their families stay together. So we owe it to them.
Lindsey Graham: (20:50)
Finally, the president said, “I’m not going to apologize to anybody about my policies.” Mr. President, you need to apologize to those whose job it is to secure the country for making their job impossible and most importantly, you need to change.
Ron Johnson: (21:09)
I like to follow Lindsey and tell you what I learned. First of all, those signs that he was talking about, it was a big old yellow arrow. I call it the Biden Arrow, showing illegal immigrants how to come into this country. But I’ve been down to the border a number of times during multiple surges, 2015, 2018, 2019. Back in 2018, 2019, the big issue was we didn’t have the facilities. We were overwhelmed and so we couldn’t follow the law and release unaccompanied children in the hands of HHS within 72 hours. It was taking seven days, sometimes 10 days and that was a big issue. And we were all wondering, “How could we solve that problem?”
Ron Johnson: (21:48)
What I found out last night, that’s not a problem right now because the Biden administration has set a goal for the customs and Border Patrol to process and release people in an eight- hour timeframe, eight hours. That’s not even a speed bump. It’s a go slow zone on a path to illegal entry into this country and it’s facilitating untold inhumanity. I came here a little bit late. I don’t know if anybody mentioned the fact that we had to slow down because there’s a dead body in the water just upstream here. There’s nothing humane about that treatment. Nothing whatsoever. My final point is because Vice President Harris served on my committee, I saw how she asked questions of federal law enforcement, these people that we do need to thank and thank their families for their service and sacrifice. She was never interested in securing the border. Instead, what she did is she actually compared a federal law enforcement agency ICE to the KU Klux Klan. Not that is a person President Biden has put in charge of solving this problem. How can you do that when you have to rely on the brave men and women of federal law enforcement you’re putting in charge of the efforts someone who has compared your efforts to the Ku Klux Klan?
Ron Johnson: (23:15)
I just don’t get it. This is so sad coming down here. Before I came down somebody asked me, “What do you expect to see?” I said, “I expect to experience deja vu.” I did to a certain extent, but I saw something far, far worse. This is sad. This is depressing. This didn’t have to happen. This is a self-inflicted wound on our nation and I just do not believe that Biden administration is up to the task to fixing it unless they completely changed stripes here. This is sad. This is a tragedy.
Speaker 2: (23:50)
There’s a word for what’s happening at our border. It’s insanity. Every day, thousands of migrants are racing towards our border. Yet those migrants are not running away from Border Patrol officers, they’re running to the Border Patrol officers because they know and their smugglers and their traffickers know that they can game our asylum system. They can be released into the country in a matter of days, sometimes a matter of hours and they will never have to go back to their home country.
Speaker 2: (24:18)
Meanwhile, the brave men and women of our Border Patrol who signed up to be law enforcement officers are compelled to be social workers, babysitters, and cafeteria workers. The madness needs to stop and there’s only one way to stop it. It’s for Joe Biden to say, “Do not leave your home. Do not come to our country. If you do, you will not get in and we will send you home.” And until Joe Biden says that, the madness will continue. Hardworking taxpayers will be forced to spend billions on this crisis. Drugs will continue to flow into our country and devastate American families. Our borders will be wide open to potential terrorists. The madness has to stop.
John Hoeven: (25:07)
I’m John Hoeven from North Dakota. What a difference between the northern border and the southern border. I want to thank John and Ted for bringing us down here. There’s 18 senators here and what we’re trying to accomplish is we want the American people to understand what’s going on here. We just want the American people to understand what’s going on here, because if they do, they’ll say, “No, this has to stop right now. You have to change this right now.”
John Hoeven: (25:35)
As we said, we just came by a dead body in the water just coming back to this press conference. Last night when we landed, we went with the Border Patrol out and saw where the migrants are coming across the river, coming up trails and they’re being in essence processed under a bridge. Is that how we do things in America now? We have people streaming in illegally children, women-
John Hoeven: (26:03)
… people streaming in illegally, children, women and children. We just let them come in. And we process them under a bridge in the middle of the night and we won’t let the American people see it. We won’t let senators take a picture of it. Is that how we do things in America now? You see, I think if the American people understand what’s going on, they’re going to say, “No. You change this right now.” And that’s what this is about. Today, we go to the Donna processing center. It’s a tent. It’s a big tent. How many of you have been in there? I guess not, right? Well, we’re in there today. And why aren’t you in there? What’s going on? It’s a big tent with COVID protocols. They’re supposed to have a maximum of 250 people in there. 250 with COVID protocols. Without COVID protocols, a maximum of 1000 people.
John Hoeven: (26:56)
How many are in there today? 4,200. And in this sector alone, 3000 people a day are coming across every single day. We asked the customs and border protection, the border patrol professionals, what do you need to stop this so you can get on top of it, so you can do your job? What has to happen? What’s the number one and two things? They said, “Look, if you reinstate the Remain in Mexico and the safe third country approaches, we can get on top of this right now.” That’s what needs to happen. And that needs to happen right now. And then as Senator Grassley said, and others have said, then let’s figure out how we do address immigration in an intelligent and a humane way. But it starts with the American people understanding what’s going on right now and us changing it. Thank you.
Cindy Hyde-Smith: (27:56)
I’m Cindy Hyde-Smith from Mississippi. And the men you see behind me, they’re here to help us solve a problem. I’m here to help us solve a problem. We have talked to these border patrols and they had told us how overwhelmed they are, how over capacitated they are. These guys have a hard job. And they were just beginning to get a little relief before these policies changed. They were just about to be able to say, we’ve got a handle on most of this just before these policies changed. I’m a mother. I have a daughter. And after visiting where these kids are being kept, that are close to my daughter’s age, the stories we are hearing are beyond horrifying, that’s happening to these young girls. We have a job to do. We’ve got to go back to DC. Not only do we have to save this border, we’ve got to save this country.
Thom Tillis: (29:00)
Thom Tillis from North Carolina. A lot of my colleagues have covered the tragedy here. Can you imagine how any president or vice-president given the facts that we presented here, and these are facts, ladies and gentlemen, you can go out to our websites. And I hope that you will and share this information with the American people. Two-year-old and three-year-old children sitting alone at a bench unaccompanied. They called them play pens, but they were actually holding areas for a little babies. I’ve got pictures. My colleagues have pictures. Go out there, report to the American people and maybe the president will take notice. And the next time Vice President Harris is asked if she’s coming to the border and starts laughing and saying not today, get down here, get informed and recognize you’ve got a crisis on you to fix it. And we stand ready to help.
Mike Lee: (29:48)
My name is Mike Lee. I’m a Senator from Utah. I’m about 1500 miles from home, but in a sense, I feel at home here. I spent two years living here as a young man in the early 1990s. We learned to love the Rio Grande Valley as if it were my own home but in many ways, my heart is still here. I don’t think I ever imagined back then spending time as I did hanging out in this very park that one day I’d come back here as one of 18 US senators, touring facilities along the US border with this kind of misfortune, with this kind of deliberateness in bad public policy. We’re a nation of laws. We’re a nation of immigrants. We need to be both. We don’t have to choose between one and the other. In fact, we know from sad experience that if we cease to be either we will cease to be both.
Mike Lee: (30:49)
It was a tragically moving experience. One that I hope each and every one of you as members of the news media will have as painful as it is to have the visits that we’ve had over the last 18 hours with the poor men, women and children, especially women and children who have come across, who have been trafficked. 30% of whom are estimated to have been subjected to sexual assault in the journey. Meanwhile, over the last month, it’s been estimated that these drug cartels are making $14 million every single week, smuggling them, abusing them and contributing to an environment of lawlessness. Lawlessness is not compassion. Open borders is not an answer to enabling a thriving of the human condition. [foreign language 00:31:41]
Steve Daines: (31:41)
I’m Senator Steve Daines from Montana. You might ask, what’s a Montanan doing here in the Southern border. Well, I represent a state, a Northern border state that has a Southern border crisis. We haven’t talked much about yet today in this press conference is what’s going on with the drugs pouring across the Southern border. It’s a zero sum game down here. In terms of what’s going on with our border patrol, they have limited number of resources. In fact, we’ve deployed some of our Northern border resources here to help out in the Southern border. Every hour they spend processing the flood of illegal immigrants coming across the border is an hour that is taken away from being in the front lines defending our country and stopping the flood of Mexican meth, Mexican heroin, Mexican fentanyl. 20 years ago in Montana, meth was homemade. It was homegrown and it had purity levels less than 30%.
Steve Daines: (32:56)
Today, the meth that’s getting into Montana is Mexican cartel. It has purities North of 95%, far more dangerous, far more addictive, and it’s less expensive because they’re producing so much of it and then shipping it into our country. I spoke to one of my county sheriffs in Montana, 48 hours ago. He told me he was holding seven Mexican cartel members in his jail in Montana for the last couple of weeks. We have MS-13 gang members in Montana. So this is an issue that affects a Northern border state like Montana. And finally Montanans are scratching their heads. They’re asking where’s the common sense when a US citizen, if they leave the country and want to come back in, you have to produce a passport and a COVID test results. That’s not true right now in the Southern border. And we’re scratching our heads and asking why.
James Lankford: (33:55)
I’m James Lankford from Oklahoma. I know why President Biden doesn’t want the media to be here because we do have an open border. Last night when we stood under that bridge, we watched as families, if you had a six year old or younger come in, within hours you were processed and released into the country. If you were an unaccompanied minor, you were sent over to the Donna facility, which we went and visited. That facility just in one of the pods that I stood in is designed for 80 people in that pod and they had 709 people in that pod when we were there. Literally wall to wall in every one of the plexiglass little cells that they have, and then people flooding out into the hallway in between them. 709 people in a pod set up for 80. So that’s what happens to the unaccompanied minors.
James Lankford: (34:43)
Families are released into the country immediately. And for single adults that are crossing the border, here’s the basic thing that’s occurring. And everyone down here knows it. And so to the cartels. They’ll release 100 or more adults to be able to go one direction while a 100 or more children and families go a different direction. They turn themselves in which means border patrol has to move to that spot, leaving the rest of the border open for adults with criminal records and others to be able to come across. That is the definition of an open border. Removing the security from one area and making sure that people can cross in that area and allowing 50% of our border patrol to have to be used to do input and data processing. To be able to come and see this wall under construction and to see what wall construction stopping really looks like, open gates with no power on it.
James Lankford: (35:29)
So farmers can’t come back and forth. Open gates where they have to actually station somebody from the border patrol just to be able to sit at that gate. Having put in the technology, no cameras, no lights, no ground sensing technology, and worst of all of it, the area where the levee that protects all these cities and communities, the levee is taken down to be able to start putting in the concrete levee. And for more than 10 miles, those areas are now unprotected with no levee at all. So now we have a hazard this fall, when the rainy season comes in this area and the possibility of a hurricane because construction on the wall has stopped, which means construction on the levee has also stopped as well.
James Lankford: (36:06)
This is nonsensical what we’re seeing in policy. And we saw none of this just three months ago. None of this flood was occurring at that time. None of the problems with construction were happening at that time. And we did not see the humanitarian crisis happening at that time. This is something that needs to be addressed and can be addressed by President Biden. But it was very clear when we got here, there’s a reason why he doesn’t want the press to be here.
Speaker 3: (36:40)
I’m sorry that they won’t allow you to see what we saw. I’m not sure there are words in English to describe it. If you talk to the border patrol agents, those women and men will tell you that what President Biden is doing is bone deep, down to the marrow stupid. They want to go back to the border practices and the border security that existed on the day that President Biden was inaugurated. Now, President Biden and Vice President Harris need to come down here. I don’t mean any disrespect, and I’m not trying to tell them how to do their jobs, but they need to come down here. Because it became clear to me today that there are either one or two things going on here. Either President Biden believes in open borders. You do, after all, have to watch what politicians do not what they say. Or the people that President Biden has put in charge to make border security policy are not qualified to manage a food truck.
Tommy Tuberville: (38:13)
Thank you very much. Coach Tommy Tuberville from State of Alabama. Spent a lot of time down here recruiting the Rio Grande Valley as a football coach. I’ve seen things happen down here for years. I’m just an American, I believe in this country and put one word to this. I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed for the taxpayers of this country, what I’ve seen the last 24 hours. It brings tears to your eyes to see what’s happened. And let me tell you something, this ain’t a Democrat or Republican problem, this is an American problem. For years, we’ve been kicking the can down the road as a federal government, not taking care of this border and we should have. We finally elected a president in Donald Trump because he got elected because he said he was going to fix-
Tommy Tuberville: (39:03)
… the President, Donald Trump because he got elected because he said he was going to fix it. And he was trying to fix it. And he was unelected. Now, we’ve had a guy come in, just changed it all. Border Patrol says, “Just give us a game plan. Don’t do anything. Please don’t do anything until you tell us what you’re going to do so we can prepare.” They didn’t give him any preparation. They changed it. And what a mess. What a complete mess.
Tommy Tuberville: (39:28)
Like I said, it is embarrassing that we have let down the American taxpayer, we’ve let down the people of Mexico, and we’ve let down the people of South America, that we put them through this. And if we don’t change it folks like you just heard from everybody here, I’m the last one. If we don’t change it, it is going to get 10 times worse. You’re going to have thousands of people die and you’re going to ruin a country that was built on loyalty, dedication, and compassion. But this country ain’t strong enough to withstand what’s getting ready to happen. They need to let you all in so you can report it. And I hope to God you report what you see if they let you in. Thank you very much.
Senator Cruz: (40:12)
All right. We’ll take a couple question.
Senator Johnson: (40:24)
Senator, good afternoon. [inaudible 00:40:24]. But in fiscal year 2019 in May, Southwest Border Migration apprehended [inaudible 00:40:30] for more then 144,000. Again, that’s fiscal year 2019. And I do have it right here. That’s exponentially higher than 2014, ’15 and so on. So my question is, was it a crisis in 2019?
Senator Cruz: (40:51)
So it was a crisis in 2019, and President Trump tried very hard to solve it. He tried to work with Congress. He tried to work in a bipartisan manner. A number of us here were working very closely with President Trump to solve it. There was a court decision called the Flores decision that was mandating the release of children in family units, which was in turn serving as a magnet for bringing more and more children, putting them in harm’s way, causing them to be abused, sexually abused, and physically abused by human traffickers. And President Trump tried to work with Congress to fix it. And congressional Democrats had zero interest in fixing it. They said they would not work to do anything. And I’ll tell you what turned it around in 2019 is the president negotiated a deal, the Remain in Mexico Policy with the government of Mexico.
Senator Cruz: (41:34)
It was a landmark deal that provided that when people came illegally from central America through Mexico, and they applied for asylum in the United States that they would remain in Mexico while the matter was proceeding in that caused the numbers to drop and drop dramatically. Last year, we had the lowest level of illegal immigration in 45 years. It worked, the policies were working. And what did Joe Biden do? He came in and immediately tore up this international agreement with the government of Mexico. And he has caused last month, we had a 100,000 people intercepted illegally coming into this country. This month, we’re on path to have 140,000 people intercepted. There are 15,000 children in custody right now, and those numbers are rising and they are rising because of the Biden administration’s mistakes.
Speaker 8: (42:28)
We’ve got time for 2 more question.
Speaker 4: (42:32)
[inaudible 00:42:32] comprehensive reform on immigration. [inaudible 00:42:45] America is a nation of immigrants. So what are you going to do to [inaudible 00:42:58]?
Senator Cruz: (42:59)
Well, the premise of your question isn’t right. We are a nation of immigrants. That is absolutely right. My father came to America from Cuba in 1957. He was 18 and he couldn’t speak English. He had $100 in his underwear. We’re a nation that is built by people coming here seeking freedom. And there’s no nation on earth that is more generous, more welcoming to immigrants than the United States of America. But there’s a right way to come. The right way to come as legally, following the rules, following the rule of law, coming here legally. The wrong way to come is putting children in the custody of human traffickers. These are vicious, transnational criminals. As several folks told you, we just saw a dead body floating on the Rio Grande coming by of someone who died crossing no doubt with a trafficker. This is inhumane what is going on.
Senator Cruz: (43:51)
And the Democrats have made decisions. Joe Biden and the by the administration have made decisions that are causing these people to suffer, and to do this in a pandemic is particularly irresponsible in Harlingen. The illegal immigrants being released are testing positive for COVID-19 at a rate seven times higher than the US population. This makes no sense.
Senator Graham: (44:15)
Just very quickly, instead of back asking a Republican or Democrat, why don’t you ask the people in charge of policing the border what the problem is? Rather than making a political statement and a question, why don’t you walk right over there and ask the guy, “What the hell happened?” We got a chart. I’ll give it to you. This was June right here. See this spike. It was big. What did Trump do? He told Mexico, “We’re going to put tariffs on all your products, unless you allow us to have asylum seekers stay in Mexico.”
Senator Graham: (44:46)
What happened? It went down to a 45 year low, because nobody’s going to pay $20,000 to come to Mexico and wait for four years. The day the first plane load of kids went back to central America, the unaccompanied minor problem with to a 45 year low. So why don’t you do your job as a reporter and ask the professionals, what the hell has happened in the last couple of months? And they will tell you.
Senator Graham: (45:10)
They told the Biden administration, “If you do what you’re planning, we’re going to lose control of the border.” They were right. I want to know who they told, and I want those people to be held accountable. I’m not going to give this up. I voted for every comprehensive immigration bill that’s ever come out of the United States Senate. It is impossible for me to sit down with Dick Durbin and negotiate any solution to people already here, because if you legalize one person, until you fix this problem, you’re going to have a human tsunami. It will be another signal, “Come to America. Welcome.” Don’t ask us, we’re politicians. Ask these people over here, “What has happened? Why have they lost control of the border? And they will tell you.”
Speaker 5: (45:53)
Senator Cruz, I have a question for Senator Johnson.
Senator Cruz: (46:16)
Go for it.
Speaker 5: (46:17)
Senator Johnson, [inaudible 00:46:18].
Senator Johnson: (46:18)
I missed the first part of your question.
Speaker 5: (46:26)
Sure. Why did the transition team allege the Trump admin delayed action on the migrant surge for months, even though it was warned? So my question is, did you hear about-
Senator Johnson: (46:39)
Give me my graph.
Speaker 5: (46:41)
Did you hear about this warning and should Trump [inaudible 00:46:45] crisis?
Speaker 9: (46:49)
Why don’t you ask the people who did the [crosstalk 00:46:49]-
Senator Johnson: (46:49)
First of all, I really don’t even understand the premise of your question. I’ve been working on this chart for a couple years. It shows cause and effect. I will send it to all of your offices. And again, the fact of the matter is yes, there’s a huge surge for a number of reasons. Deferring action on childhood arrivals. You have the Florence re-interpretation where it applied to not only unaccompanied children, but accompany children. There are a number of things that caused this crisis. And then President Trump and his administration fixed the problem. That’s the point we’re trying to make. And rather than following those policies where we basically had this under control, so we could take the next step. We were controlling the border. We could finish the fence. We were so close to taking that first step of having a secure border, so we could address comprehensive immigration reform. Instead, president Biden ignored the advice of professionals, blew up all of these reforms. And now we’ve got this crisis, which is far worse today than it was even in 2019. We’ve had a day of over 6,000 people, 6,000.
Senator Johnson: (47:55)
That’s more than a caravan. That’s a large caravan per day. How do you handle that? Put yourself in the men and women’s shoes here that have to deal with this. How do you handle 6,000 people a day? Come on. It’s a crisis.
Speaker 5: (48:11)
Speaker 6: (48:13)
Hold up a second. Hold up.
Speaker 5: (48:20)
Speaker 6: (48:30)
Absolutely. But the table stakes are here. Exactly what Lindsay said. The reason that President Trump did have a crisis to the first question asked, created by a court decision. He fixed it. But we’ve gone, we just had a meeting just last week with Democrat members, Lindsay and I were there and other members. And we said, “If you want to talk about immigration reform, we’re prepared to.” We have a crisis at the border. We have to understand, again, listening to what the folks on the ground are telling us and making sure that we have policies that secure this border.
Speaker 6: (49:01)
You cannot possibly have a credible immigration reform proposal in Congress until you fix this crisis down here.
Speaker 5: (49:13)
Senator Cornyn: (49:13)
Hold on a second. Senator Cruz and I are enormously grateful to all of our colleagues who came down here with us about 18 hours ago, and you’ve heard their remarks, they answered your questions. Many of them have to catch an airplane to leave, but some of them may be able to hang around. So you might be able to catch them on a one-to-one basis, but thank you all for coming. Appreciate it.