Oct 6, 2021
Ted Cruz & GOP Senators Press Conference Transcript: Immigration at Texas Border
Ted Cruz and other GOP senators held a press conference on October 6, 2021 to discuss the immigration crisis on the southern border. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Ted Cruz: (00:00)
It is a developing situation. Details are still coming out. As we understand from police reports, it appears there are four injuries. At present, it appears there are no fatalities. That obviously could change. It’s being reported that the incident began as an altercation between two students. All of those details are preliminary and as more facts are discovered, we will learn what occurred there, but right now, I know all of us are lifting up in prayer the students and the teachers and the first responders and the parents. There have been far too many of these at far too many schools. So we are grateful for the courage and the heroism of the first responders and we are hopeful that all of the students or individuals who may have been injured will come through and survive. We’re here today because of the Biden border crisis that continues to rage on the southern border. This is a crisis that, on the merits, should dominate the news each and every day because it continues to get worse. The Washington Times reported on Sunday that catch-and-release numbers increased more than 430000% this August compared to last August. 430000%. That’s a percentage so big you almost think it’s a typo. The Biden Department of Homeland Security is preparing for up to 400,000 illegal immigrants to cross the border this month. We are seeing tens of thousands of Haitian immigrants. I was in Del Rio just a couple of weeks ago at the Del Rio Bridge. The day I was there, there were 10,503 illegal immigrants under the bridge, overwhelming DHS’s capacity to deal with.
Ted Cruz: (02:09)
Just over a week ago, I met with the foreign minister of Panama. She described how this year, the country of Panama … Panama sits on the juncture between South America and North America. This year, they have seen over 80,000 Haitians who had been living in South America crossing into Panama illegally on their way to the United States. The cause of all of this is simple. It is Joe Biden and Kamala Harris who refuse to enforce the law. Those are decisions they made literally the first day in office. Three decisions drove this crisis. Immediately halting construction of the border wall, that happened on day one. Re-instituting the failed policy of catch-and-release, that also happened on day one. Most indefensibly, ending the incredibly successful remain-in-Mexico international agreement. Remain-in-Mexico last year produced the lowest rate of illegal immigration in 45 years. This year because Joe Biden and Kamala Harris refuse to enforce the law, have continued to be utterly lawless, we are seeing the highest rate of illegal immigration in 21 years.
Ted Cruz: (03:24)
This is a human catastrophe and disaster. Texas is paying the price. The last couple of weeks, I did round tables with farmers and ranchers in South Texas who described the chaos of finding dead bodies on their ranch land day after day after day, who described moms in South Texas who described that they wouldn’t let their teenage children go outside unless they carried a loaded firearm because there’s so many human traffickers and narcotics traffickers crossing across their properties. This is a humanitarian crisis. It’s a public health crisis. It’s a national security crisis. Right now, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris refuse to do a damn thing about it. Joe Biden won’t even go to the southern border and Kamala Harris refuses to go to the Rio Grande Valley, the epicenter of this tragedy. This tragedy needs to end and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris need to follow the law.
Ted Cruz: (04:21)
Next, recognize Senator Cornyn.
John Cornyn: (04:27)
Well the greatest beneficiary of the Biden border crisis are the criminal organizations that are getting richer by the day, charging fees to smuggle people into the United States, and they’ve learned that if you overwhelm the Border Patrol with unaccompanied children or just sheer numbers like we’ve seen at the border, that that will then open lanes into the United States to cross the border with which to smuggle illegal drugs. Last year, about 93,000 Americans died of drug overdoses and they were drugs primarily that come across our southern border. So while the Biden administration is playing checkers on the border, the cartels are playing three-dimensional chess. This is all part of a business model and plan they’re using to exploit our laws.
John Cornyn: (05:20)
The tragedy is that we know that the Biden administration knows what to do: end catch-and-release. Give people an opportunity to make their asylum claims upfront and those who qualify can benefit from them. Those who can’t are sent home. But the problem is now the Border Patrol says there are no consequences to illegally coming to the United States. That means there’s no deterrence so more and more and more continue to come. Senator Cruz and I, of course representing a big border state that’s ground zero, we’ve talked to the Border Patrol over many years about this and the fact that Haitians showed up is really no surprise to us because literally if you have enough money, you can get to the United States from anywhere around the world. A matter of fact, about 150 different countries are represented with the flow of migrants coming across the border.
John Cornyn: (06:16)
Finally, let me just say that the President’s press secretary said Republicans have given speeches, but offered no solutions. Well Senator Sinema, who also represents a border state, along with Henry Cuellar from Laredo, Texas, a Democrat, and Tony Gonzales and I have introduced a bill called the Bipartisan Border Solutions Act to try to give the administration some place to land if, in fact, they’re actually interested in engaging in doing anything about it. So far, all we hear from the administration is crickets. What’s happening now just seems to be just fine with them because they have shown no indication of wanting to do anything about it.
Ted Cruz: (06:54)
Chuck Grassley: (06:56)
At my county meetings in Iowa, I hear about the problems of the crisis at the border. I hear about illegal immigrants coming to our country. They want the President of the United States to enforce the law. Governor Reynolds is at the border today with several other governors because this is not a Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California problem. This is a problem for all 50 states in the United States and when the illegal drugs come into Iowa from across the border, it’s because the President isn’t enforcing the laws. When 15% of the people come across the border that have the virus, it’s spreading the virus around the other 50 states. When we get terrorists arrested at the border, it’s a national security issue. When we have law enforcement issues with criminals coming across the border, it’s a problem for all 50 states.
Chuck Grassley: (07:57)
So I’m proud of my governor going to the border to bring attention to it and other governors down there as well today because this is not just a problem at the southern border. This is a problem that affects all 50 states and the President of the United States takes an oath to uphold the Constitution, enforce the laws, and he’s not doing it. He should be doing it and until he does it, we’re going to have a continuing problem.
Ted Cruz: (08:27)
Joni Ernst: (08:28)
Thank you. Just as my senior Senator Chuck Grassley said, this is an issue for all 50 states and we hear about it as we’re out doing town meetings or visiting in all of Iowa’s 99 counties. The reality because of President Biden’s failed policies on the southern border, the reality is that every state is now a border state. All of the issues that are affecting Texas and those that are saying the sweep of illegals coming
Joni Ernst: (09:03)
… those that are saying the sweep of illegals coming across the border, all of those issues are now facing every other state in our union. So whether it is sex trafficking, human trafficking coming over the border, drug trafficking, which the counter-drug officials in the state of Iowa says the majority of those drugs are coming up interstate 35 through Texas from Mexico, it is affecting us. If it’s gun trafficking, illegal gun trafficking, it is coming over the border from Mexico into the United States. All of these issues are affecting our communities and our families right there in the state of Iowa. Now it’s estimated by the end of this year, we will have seen 2.3 million illegal immigrants, 2.3 million. Put that into perspective, folks. There are 10 states in the United States that do not have a population of 2.3 million people. This is an issue. The Democrats need to acknowledge, this is an issue. It’s a humanitarian crisis at our Southern border.
Joni Ernst: (10:20)
As Chuck Grassley stated, not only do we have illegals crossing the Southern border that are trafficking drugs, guns, but we also have terrorists. One former Biden official has stated that with an extraordinary number of people crossing the border illegally, of course, we’re going to have rapists, we’re going to have those that are terrorists, we’re going to have other bad people entering our country. So folks, President Biden, please wake up. You have to address this situation. Republicans have solutions that we’ve outlined. It’s your time to act.
Senator Cruz: (11:05)
Senator [inaudible 00:11:06].
Speaker 1: (11:09)
I’ve heard for months people in the press say, well, this is the highest number of people illegally crossing the border in the last 21 years. That’s about to be updated because when the numbers come in in the next couple of days for September, we will exceed the number from 21 years ago and this will be a record number of individuals that have crossed our Southern border. For some strange reason, people still seem to say this is some kind of cyclical event. This is a problem based simply on the policy changes that happened in January the 20th of this year. When President Biden stopped the border wall construction, when President Biden’s stopped doing enforcement of catch and release, and then decided they’re going to instead just release people into the country and say, show up for a hearing two or three years in the future and we’ll check in with you then. When he dramatically changed the policies of how we handled immigration over the past several years, he actually released into the country millions of people.
Speaker 1: (12:06)
Here’s the challenge that we face now. This administration knows full well how to be able to do this. They know how to be able to finish the wall. The pieces are already sitting there on the ground. We’re paying millions of dollars to be able to watch those pieces just sit there in the desert. They know how to be able to finish the construction there. They know how to be able to do MPP that is the Remain in Mexico policy because the federal court has mandated that they actually re-institute that though they’re dragging their feet actually to do what the federal court has told them to do. This congress has put forward multiple different options of ways to be able to actually deal with the illegal immigration. But for whatever reason, they’re choosing not to enforce the law. They’re choosing to ignore federal courts. They will not turn over basic information to us and the numbers when we ask, or it takes months to be able to get numbers and information from them that should take hours, that we know full well that they have.
Speaker 1: (13:01)
This administration is intensely dragging their feet. And while they say we do not have an open border, the entire country is watching what’s happening on our Southern border. Everyone sees what’s going on except the Biden administration. We’re not asking the Biden administration to do anything other than help the humanitarian crisis that’s on our Southern border and stop incentivizing people to be able to come to the Southern border, knowing that they’re going to be released and to take that dangerous journey to be able to come.
Senator Cruz: (13:29)
Senator [inaudible 00:13:30].
Speaker 2: (13:32)
The message is very simple today, and the message is that the administration needs to secure the border, enforce the law. And this is a message not just from us senators, there’s 11 governors down on the border right now. And so they’re calling attention to this problem. We’re calling attention to this problem. We’ve been down to the border. We went with Senator Cruz and Senator [inaudible 00:13:53]. There were probably 15 or more of us as senators. We went down to the border to call attention to this problem and said to the administration, secure the border and support our border patrol and customs and border protection. Those people need our help and support as they’re working just in very difficult circumstances to do everything they can to do their job, and we need to support them. And I’ve also been to central America and south America this year on a bipartisan [inaudible 00:14:22]. And it’s very clear, the message down there is this is an open border.
Speaker 2: (14:27)
I mean, look at the numbers. Through September 15th, more than a million and a half encounters with people coming across illegally. Last year the entire year, less than half million for the entire year. We’re at a pace to exceed two million encounters on that border and the numbers just keep going up. So look, of course, this can be done. Of course, this can be done. Enforce the public health order, Title 42, the third safe country protocol, the Remain in Mexico protocol. Contractors right now are being paid $5 million a day to not build the law. And remember, it’s an entire system. It’s not just a wall. It’s the wall, it’s all of the electronics that goes with it, the equipment and it’s the people. Look, we can do this. We’ve put forward many solutions. The only problem is the administration won’t enforce the law. They won’t secure the border. From my state, this month we’re sending national guard troops down there at the request of the department of defense.
Speaker 2: (15:33)
So the governors are doing everything they can, the states are doing everything that they can, we’re doing what we can. The American people need to continue to tell this administration very clearly, secure the border, enforce the law.
Senator Cruz: (15:51)
Senator Marshall: (15:54)
Thank you, Senator Cruz. America knows we have a healthcare crisis at the border, and America knows this crisis was created by Joe Biden, and America knows that Joe Biden wants this crisis. My big concern are just the number of people crossing the border with infectious diseases. We know that millions of people across the border will cross the border this year. 20% of them are positive for COVID, twice that many have been exposed to it as well. A third of the people that we’re releasing into America are refusing the vaccine. As a senior medical student, I spent two months on a medical Christian mission in Haiti, and certainly I was concerned about the largest tuberculosis population in the Western hemisphere, the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere. But every morning I got to the clinic, there were 60 to 80 people lined up to see us. And as we saw each one, they would describe the worms that they were seeing. The worms in their feces, the worms in their mouth. Infectious diseases are rampant in these populations.
Senator Marshall: (17:04)
[inaudible 00:17:04] I continued to feel for the people of Haiti, continued to do mission work through other folks there. I also did mission work in central America. Again, infectious diseases are rampant. And I can’t help but stop and just think about the Afghanistan refugees coming across as well. The highest rate of tuberculosis in that part of the other world as well. The only countries in the world still with polio; Afghanistan and Pakistan. I want to do everything we can to show compassion, but at the same time, I was sent here to protect our families from these infectious diseases. America knows that we have a humanitarian crisis on the border and America knows Joe Biden could fix it. Thank you.
Senator Cruz: (17:47)
Senator Young: (17:52)
President Biden, Vice-President Harris, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle and the United States Senate and House of Representatives, secure the border, enforce the-
Speaker 3: (18:03)
… secure the border, enforce the laws of the land, keep the American people safe and secure during a global pandemic and during a heightened risk of terrorism, do the right thing, show some leadership. The president of the United States campaigned as a steady hand, someone blessed with competence, the most qualified person in the United States of America to be president of the United States. And yet, we have this situation. We have this situation where we have open borders, where there’s a international perception, accurate, that one can fly to our Southern border and walk right on in. There’s also a growing perception that Democrats in Congress, as so many have advocated, just might slip an amnesty provision into a partisan reconciliation bill. Listen, it’s time for leadership. I will be fighting. My colleagues will be fighting hammer and tongue against this complete abdication of leadership moving forward. I visited the border in May, and I was just struck by the human dimension to all of this. Young children filing out of cars, escorted by coyotes, walking a couple of hundred meters from Mexico into gaps in the border wall, where they were humanely apprehended by our brave Border Patrol agents. And others, of course, are not discovered and they just blend into our society. That ultimately, so many of these individuals end up trafficking drugs, trafficking persons, trafficking young children, and that impacts the life of all Americans, certainly impacts the lives of Hoosiers.
Speaker 3: (19:59)
I have not seen the situation on the border of this dire since I served along our southern borders, the United States Marine in the mid 1990s. And I have to say, the situation has grown so alarming, so bad that we even have a number of prominent Democrats who are starting to make their voices heard. Of course, the mayor of Del Rio, Texas recently spoke out, and he asked President Biden to lead, to get control of this situation, to do his job as our commander in chief, as our chief executive. So, I say, once again, I plead with the president, with our vice president, with my democratic colleagues here in the Senate in the House of Representatives to stop the insanity.
Speaker 5: (20:47)
Senator Capito: (20:47)
Thank you. I want to thank Senator Cruz for pulling us all together. You can see there’s a lot of interest because this does impact every single state in the union. No state is not a border state. So, I have a little bit of different perspective in statistics as I look at this issue. I agree with everything that’s been said. But I am the ranking member on the Appropriations for Homeland Security. We always hear that setting your budget, setting your spending priorities shows your priorities as a nation, shows what you believe in and what you think is important. As we look at the Homeland Security bill, as it’s coming forward in an appropriation for this single year, number one, no wall funding. And I had heard the statistics that contractors are being paid $5 million a day to not build the wall. We’ve heard the stories of fences down, and gates down, and all of that where people are just walking through. But there is no increase along with the defense budget, no increase in the Department of Homeland Security and in a DOD budget.
Senator Capito: (21:48)
So, what does this tell you? This tells you that it’s not a priority. That it’s not a priority for this administration to get more agents, to get more wall, more defensive mechanisms to protect our border. And that, to me, shows that what we learned during the campaign and what we’ve seen is I’ve talked to Mayorkas and also to Ortiz, who’s head of the Border Patrol, is that they didn’t have a plan. And I’ll take Ortiz out of that conversation, and just say, the administration, they didn’t have a plan. They keep throwing their hands up saying, “This is somebody else’s fault.” It’s October, and the numbers are skyrocketing. It’s obvious we have an open border. It’s obvious, by the thousands, tens of thousands of Haitians that were in the Del Rio bridge, where 11 babies were born during that period of time, that there is no plan.
Senator Capito: (22:47)
And so, I want to say a great thanks to Mr. Ortiz, who’s head of the Border Patrol, for trying to handle a very difficult situation. These are heroes that we have on the border trying to handle what has basically been no guidance, no effort to reign in, and no way to help and support our Border Patrol [inaudible 00:23:08]. They sent 2,000 agents down to Del Rio. These are agents that are disrupting drugs that are coming into West Virginia. These are agents that are making sure that the lawful commerce can go between our borders. These are agents that are away from their families, away from their own duty stations to fill in, in what was characterized an emergency. And we’ve got another one coming. We know that. So, I would implore the president and the vice president to act. It’s important to my state of West Virginia. It’s important to the nation. It’s important to the people who are trying to get here legally. Where are they in this conversation? They’re barely even discussed. So, I want to thank you again for having pulling us together. Thank you.
Speaker 5: (23:52)
Senator Scott: (23:55)
I want to thank Senator Cruz for putting this together. I’m from an immigration state. We like immigration. But we like legal immigration. Floridians don’t want people to come here illegally. They want people to come here legally. Now, if you just think about the numbers for a second, we’re going to have about a little over 2 million people come here illegally this year. Think about that. By the end of this year, one out of every 150 people in this country will have come here illegally this year. One out of every 150 people will have come here illegally this year. And that’s staggering. So, you look at my state. We have more fentanyl coming in the state. Talk to sheriffs all across my state.
Senator Scott: (24:31)
But here’s something I found fascinating while I was governor of Florida. There was a refugee issue when I governor. I talked to the Obama administration, Biden administration, and they told me I had no right to any information about any refugee that was coming into my state. No vetting information, no healthcare information, no criminal background, where they were from. They said, “As the governor of Florida, I didn’t have a right and law enforcement didn’t have a right.” That’s wrong. If we’re going to bring in refugees in this country, our governors, our mayors, all of our law enforcement needs to have all the information so they can take care of their communities.
Ted Cruz: (25:13)
All right. We’ll do couple of questions.
Speaker 4: (25:16)
Senator touched on this a little bit, but most of these migrants are not being medically checked for COVID. Are you concerned about a spike in diseases that have been eradicated in the past?
Ted Cruz: (25:27)
Well, I think Senator Marshall addressed that at considerable length, and I’ll let him elaborate on it momentarily, but it is a very real problem. When I was down in the Rio Grande Valley a couple of weeks ago, the Biden cages that have, on a typical day, about 4,000 people crammed in on top of each other, the rate of COVID positivity, when I was last there, was about 24%. And the Biden administration is releasing illegal immigrants who are COVID positive into every community across the country. They’re releasing them into south Texas. Just McAllen alone, this year, the Biden administration has released over 7,000 illegal immigrants into McAllen, Texas, who were COVID positive.
Ted Cruz: (26:08)
To put that in perspective, the population of McAllen is about 141,000. 5% of the city of McAllen consists today of illegal immigrants with COVID that Joe Biden released this year. It is a crisis. It is dangerous. The Del Rio bridge, when I was there, they weren’t testing anybody. They had no idea who had COVID and who didn’t. This Biden administration is willing to impose mandates on our soldiers, and sailors, and airmen, and Marines, is willing to impose mandates on federal employees, is willing to illegally try to impose mandates on private employers, but when it comes to illegal immigrants, their radical open border policies trumps any desire to combat COVID, and it is dangerous. Senator Marshall, Dr. Marshall.
Senator Marshall: (26:55)
Yeah. Just really quickly, of course, we’re concerned. And my big concern is the variants. We should be at herd immunity by now. 70% of adults…
Speaker 6: (27:03)
We should be at herd immunity by now. 70% of adults vaccinated, half of the people not vaccinated should have natural immunity, but yet this Delta variant had to come from somewhere and continues to cause re-infection. My big concern is what are the next new variants going to be coming in across the border in such large volumes, so, yes, we’re very concerned about future spikes.
Ted Cruz: (27:23)
All right, we’ll do one last question. Yes?
Speaker 7: (27:26)
Could you point to specific policy priorities you want the Biden administration to enforce-
Ted Cruz: (27:30)
Speaker 7: (27:30)
… that you think they’re not enforcing?
Ted Cruz: (27:33)
Yes. I will say it was rather striking when the White House press secretary claimed Republicans have no solutions, because we have been talking specific solutions from the very beginning. This was caused by three decisions Joe Biden, Kamala Harris made on the very first day in office. Number one, they immediately halted construction of the border wall. How do you turn this around? Reverse that decision; resume construction of the border wall. By the way, we’re paying people not to build the border wall with taxpayer funds. That’s one concrete step. A second concrete step, on day one, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris re-instituted the failed policy of catch and release. What should they do? Reverse that policy. End catch and release because it causes this crisis. And the third policy, the most concrete policy, on the first day in office, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ended the incredibly successful Remain in Mexico [inaudible 00:28:30].
Ted Cruz: (28:29)
What was Remain in Mexico? It was an agreement that President Trump negotiated with the government of Mexico, that the government of Mexico agreed that anyone who crossed illegally into Mexico would remain in Mexico while their US asylum case was proceeding. And Remain in Mexico was incredibly successful, so much so that, last year, illegal immigration fell to the lowest rate of illegal immigration in 45 years. When the White House says they can’t fix this problem, they are not telling you the truth because the problem was largely fixed last year, and they broke it.
Ted Cruz: (29:06)
They broke it because, on day one, Joe Biden ripped up that international agreement. A federal court has now ruled that ripping up that international agreement was illegal. The Biden administration is under an order from a federal court to return to that agreement, and they are slow-walking. I’ve talked to border patrol officials who have said that the Biden DHS is slow-walking compliance with that order. They could implement it today, but they’re defying a federal judge because, sadly, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have handed control of the agenda on immigration over to the radical open-borders extreme left.
Ted Cruz: (29:47)
When I was down in south Texas, a couple of weeks ago, I did round tables with farmers and ranchers, but also with border patrol agents, with sheriffs, with law enforcement, with local elected officials. Most of the elected officials in south Texas are Democrats. South Texas has been historically a very democratic part of the state. Almost to a person, the elected officials I spoke with in south Texas, the Democrats, said, “You know, if the Democratic Party, nationally, is the party of open borders, I can’t support that. I can’t stand with that.”
Ted Cruz: (30:22)
And I will note McAllen, which has been a bright blue, democratic bastion for a long time, just elected a Republican mayor. Because the people who are seeing firsthand the tragedies, the little girls and little boys who are being sexually abused by the traffickers, the drugs that are flowing over, the bodies that are left, the people that are left to die in the desert heat, this is unconscionable, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris caused it. The way to fix it is reverse the political decisions they made on January 20th of this year. They could do it and fix it. It is only partisan politics that prevents them from doing so.
Speaker 6: (31:05)
Yep, I think that’s good.
Ted Cruz: (31:06)
All right. Thank you, guys.