Mar 24, 2021
Ted Cruz, Senate GOP Press Conference on Immigration at Southern Border Transcript March 24
Ted Cruz and other Republican Senators held a press conference on March 24, 2021 to discuss immigration and an upcoming trip to the southern border. Read the transcript of the full briefing speech here.
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Ted Cruz: (00:04)
Yeah, when I’m talking to the TV camera I’m not going to wear a mask, and all of us have been immunized.
Speaker 2: (00:07)
It’d make us feel better.
Ted Cruz: (00:10)
You’re welcome to step away if you like. The whole point of a vaccine. CDC guidance is what we’re following. Tomorrow night, 18 senators are going to be traveling down to the Southern border, traveling down to Texas, to see firsthand the crisis that is unfolding, to see firsthand the over 100,000 illegal immigrants who were detained last month, to see the over 15,000 children that are in custody of the Biden administration right now, to see the conditions where the Biden administration is releasing illegal immigrants into the public who are testing positive for COVID at a rate seven times higher than the U.S. population. It is a crisis. It is a crisis that was created by the Biden administration, by their own policies. As soon as Joe Biden was sworn in as President, he halted construction of the wall, he re-instituted catch and release, and he ended the Remain in Mexico Policy. And this crisis is unfolding and getting worse and worse and worse by the day.
Ted Cruz: (01:22)
We’re traveling down there, 18 of us, but something is going to be different on this border trip from previous trips to the border, which is our friends in the media right now are not allowed to come. You’ve been invited. We want you to come. We want the media to be there. We want the American people to see what’s happening, but Joe Biden doesn’t want you to see that. The Biden administration has issued a gag order, a blackout order, that the media cannot come. For four years, we heard Democrats going on and on about kids in cages. Well, Joe Biden desperately does not want you to see the Biden cages. And his solution is to say, “No cameras, no TV cameras, no media.” By the way, I’ve been to the border many, many times. I’ve been to the border under Barack Obama, media were allowed. I’ve been to the border under Donald Trump, media were allowed. Before that, George W. Bush, media were allowed on the border. Before that, Bill Clinton, media were allowed on the border.
Ted Cruz: (02:21)
Joe Biden is issuing this media blackout because he’s terrified of the American people seeing the disaster that is unfolding. We are fighting for the media that you have a right to be there. You have a right to have cameras there. You have a right to take pictures and to show the American people what’s happening. And I would note, the Biden administration’s stated reason why the media are not allowed is the risk is too high that you guys have COVID. The risk is too high that a reporter or a camera man might have COVID. Nevermind that at the Donna Facility, which we’re going to be visiting on Friday, the Donna Facility has a capacity to hold 250 detainees. There are nearly 4,000 detainees in the Donna Facility right now. It is over 1500% greater than capacity. You want to talk about a COVID risk, it is the crisis and disaster that is the Biden border policy and the border crisis.
Ted Cruz: (03:24)
But yet the Biden administration maintains that having even a single reporter is too much of a COVID risk. By the way, doesn’t matter if that reporter has had COVID, doesn’t matter if that reporter tested COVID that day, doesn’t matter if that reporter has been vaccinated, the Biden administration says it is a COVID risk for any member of the media to see the disaster that is unfolding. That’s an outrage, it’s unacceptable, and I will say any media outlet that is okay with the Biden administration muzzling the press and hiding the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding, any media outlet that is not calling the President out on this right now is facilitating the media being blindfolded and gagged. That’s not right for this country. Jonathan.
Thanks to Ted. I’m looking forward to joining Ted and John Cornyn and 18 of my colleagues going to the border, and I hope that President Biden will come to the border too. As Ted pointed out, part of the Biden border crisis consists of a media blackout, which doesn’t make a lot of sense considering that it has become a major crisis for the country so much so that they’ve sent the Federal Emergency Management Agency down to the border. This is a crisis of their own making, as Senator Cruz pointed out. If you look at the Biden policies, they have a completely halted construction of the border wall. They have frozen deportations. They have done away with, rolled back the Remain in Mexico Policy, all policies the previous administration that were working and had been effective.
And as a consequence now, CBP, Customs Border Protection and HHS facilities are overcrowded and overrun, personnel is spread way too thin, and there are lots of migrant families and unaccompanied children who are stranded at the border in overcrowded facilities. It is an emergency. It is a crisis. It is one of their own making. And I believe, and I think that most of my colleagues believe, that we have to have a policy that allows for border security. I offered an amendment of the 2013 bill that would have required the building of hundreds of miles of border fence before other elements of the immigration policy could be put into place. But I think strong borders is something the American people support.
Having a policy that includes border security accompanied by reform is a plan and a strategy that perhaps could work. But I can tell you right now what they’re doing, isn’t working, and the evidence is there. I only wish all of you would have a chance to see it when we go look at it later this week. Thanks.
Speaker 4: (06:18)
18 of us will be heading to the border tomorrow. We’re going to thank the Border Patrol agents for what they’re doing on a daily basis and to hear from them what they’re up against in their fight. We’re going to then spread out and do a midnight patrol with border agents tomorrow night along the border between Mexico and Texas. We’re going to examine the areas where the wall construction has stopped. We’re going to go to a processing facility and other locations around to see exactly what is happening. And we invited the press to join us because we think it’s important for you to be able to film and observe and report to America what is happening there as a result of the crisis. The Biden administration says, “No.” No, the press can’t attend. And no, the American people cannot see for themselves the crisis that the Biden policies have created.
Speaker 4: (07:09)
This is a crisis. It is part of an agenda, an amnesty agenda, that started the day that President Biden took office. He turned on the green light and said, “Come to America.” He stopped construction of the wall. He stopped deportations. He stopped the very successful Remain in Mexico program that worked so well. And that is why we are right now on a track to have two million illegal immigrants come to this country this year.
Steve Daines: (07:42)
Steve Daines from Montana. You’re probably asking, “What’s a northern border state guy doing on a southern border trip?” You realize that it is more difficult at this moment for a U.S. citizen to re-enter the United States because it requires a passport and a COVID test than it is for an illegal immigrant to cross our southern border. Remember, the northern border is shut down at the moment. We want to see the northern border opened up so Canadians come back into Montana and spend their tourism dollars. But we are a northern border state at the moment with a southern border crisis. What I mean by that is I just got off the phone last night with a couple of our County Sheriffs. They talk about the flood of Mexican cartel meth, heroin, and fentanyl that’s not only coming across the southern border in a place like Texas, but it’s moving all the way up to Montana within days.
Steve Daines: (08:40)
In fact, one of my County Sheriffs is holding seven Mexican cartel members in one of their jails most recently. So this directly affects a northern state like Montana. The meth that used to be homemade in places like Montana had purity levels less than 30%. the Mexican cartel meth had purity levels north of 90%. It’s far more dangerous, far more addictive. It’s cheaper because they’re making so much of it and flooding across that southern border, because every minute that Border Patrol is using to stop an illegal coming across that border, it gives the opportunity to these cartels to move more drugs that come right up to Montana. So I’ll be joining the delegation tomorrow to the southern border. I’m grateful for Senator Cruz’s leadership on this visit, and maybe with 18 U.S. Senators there on the border, maybe we’ll be able to get the Biden administration and say, “We ought to have the media there as well.”
Speaker 6: (09:43)
As someone who has spent two years living along the U.S.-Mexico border, I can tell you that there’s no group of people more directly affected by uncontrolled waves of illegal immigration than those people who live on or near the border, those are people who see first and perhaps feel most acutely the ramifications that these uncontrolled waves of illegal immigration will have on their schools, on the security of their neighborhoods, on their own jobs. This is a cost free proposition for them, nor is it a cost free proposition for the poor men, women, and children who are trafficked by these drug cartels who are bringing them up, who, by the way, are earning significant profit. According to one recent estimate over the last month or so, these smugglers are bringing in an estimated $14 million a week every single week that it continues on this pace.
Speaker 6: (10:40)
It’s not cost-free for the people being smuggled. It’s not cost-free for these communities who were affected by it. These are our real, breathing, feeling, human beings, who, by the way, disproportionately suffer acts of physical violence and sexual abuse among those who are being trafficked. According to one estimate, 30% of the girls and women brought through these cartels are subject to sexual assault as they go along with it. This isn’t right. We’ve got to make sure that our own laws are being applied. So, look, if they’re not going to allow the press into these facilities, that really is unfortunate. We’ll do what we can to be your eyes and ears and communicate the information we’re able to acquire while we’re there.
Speaker 7: (11:32)
First of all, I want to thank Ted for organizing this trip and this press conference as well. What is so sad about the crisis, the disaster that is on the border, and it is a crisis, it is a disaster, but we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg, is that not only was this predictable, it was predicted. I know the Biden ministration is saying they’re doing this because they want to be more humane. They are guaranteeing inhumanity. All the problems that have been described here so far, the drug trafficking, the human trafficking, the sex trafficking, this was all revealed to us over the last few years. As Chairman of Homeland Security, I held close to three dozen hearings on this, made multiple trips to the border. It’s going to be sad going down to the border again, and this is just deja vu. We’ll see different people, but suffering under the same circumstances, the same inhumanity, because of President Biden’s policies.
Speaker 7: (12:30)
Now, one of the things I’ve done over the last six years as Chairman of Homeland Security is develop the data. I asked DH Secretary Mayorkas in his confirmation hearing two things, guarantee two things. First of all, that you will enforce the law. I think it’s open to debate whether he’s truly doing that. And secondly, to continue to provide me data so I can keep this chart up to date. And we we’ve got a copy of this for everybody. But what this chart shows is, in gold are single adults, blue are family units, and red are unaccompanied children. This dates back to 2012 when DACA, Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, sparked all of these crises. Remember, 2014, President Obama declared that a humanitarian crisis when we were getting 1000 people a day and Jay Johnson was saying that was a really bad day. Now we’re getting over 4,000 people per day, and we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.
Speaker 7: (13:27)
So I encourage all of you to take a look at this chart. It’s got cause and effect. It explains this. You may not be able to get to the border, because the Biden administration is preventing you from seeing this, but you can see the cause and effect, the numbers, that are behind what is a humanitarian crisis today, four or five times worse than what President Obama declared back in 2014. Oh, by the way, one of the facilities we’re going to be visiting will be the MacAllen Texas Facility, back in 2014, when I went down there with other Democrat colleagues, everybody was hailing the innovation and all the work that CBP had done to try and handle the 100 people a day. This is the same facility that under President Trump Democrats said we’re putting children in cages. Well, it’s even worse today under the Biden administration. But, again, thank you Ted for arranging this.
Speaker 8: (14:28)
So I’m going down to the Texas border to take a look, because I can’t look on any media and be able to tell what’s going on, because not a single member of the media is allowed to be able to go to take a look at this facility. That’s not true of any of the four previous administrations. Anytime media wanted to be able to visit any of these facilities they were allowed to go. This administration, in the last 24 hours said, “We’ll show you what’s going on,” so they sent a government camera reporter to take government photos and send it out to the media and say, “Here’s your video that you can run with it.” I would hope that the media doesn’t just say, “Okay, now we know what’s going on because someone in the Biden team took pictures and sent it to us,” that you would actually anticipate having the ability to be able to go cover the story yourself.
Speaker 8: (15:16)
So we’re going to be able to see it. The odd thing was, the very first day of the Biden presidency, he declared the emergency was over on the border. That was the stoppage of the construction on the border wall. In that order, he said, “There is no more emergency on the border.” In that declaration, he also started the process of announcing a large-scale amnesty bill across the United States for individuals that are also here already, and then announced individuals 17 years old and younger would not be stopped at the border as they were in the past. The combination of those three things sparked what we have now. How do I know that? Go back to February of last year, before COVID, we had less than 40,000 people apprehended at the border that month. February of this year, with nothing changing between the two, February of this year, over 100,000 people apprehended at that same border.
Speaker 8: (16:15)
10 days ago, I was in Arizona to be able to see the stoppage of the wall at that spot, to be able to know for that particular area, when they stopped construction on January the 20th, what does it look like? Here’s what happened. On January the 20th, they turned off all the technology installations that were there. What my Democrat colleagues have said, “We just need to do technology, not a wall, not a fence.” That day, on January the 20th, they were doing preparation to lay down the ground sensors, install cameras, and install lights across the border. All of that stopped on January the 20th. What is remaining in Arizona right now is a fence without gates. Literally, the gates were the only thing left to install. So we have miles and miles and miles of fence on our southern border right next to a town of 450,000 people in Mexico with a wall with no gates.
Speaker 8: (17:05)
There is no reason except one why you would install a wall with open gates and no technology, that is if you wanted an open border. There’s no other explanation for that. The cartels clearly understand that as well and they’re sending people by the thousands to us. This is a humanitarian crisis, an emergency that has been created. And though the Biden team said there is no emergency, oddly enough, two weeks ago, they sent the Federal Emergency Management Agency to go help out. So you can’t say there’s no emergency and then send FEMA down to the border to take care of an emergency.
Speaker 9: (17:47)
Two ironies of this overall crisis, one is when you look at the Biden administration on international issues, they call for transparency, particularly as it relates to China, the Uyghurs, the pandemic, how it started, what’s going on in Hong Kong. And by the way, we support them. We need them. But when you ask for transparency on what’s going on in our own country, not China, which we all want, our own country, they’re saying no. They’re saying no especially to you guys, which should be quite offensive. Second, as Steve Daines mentioned, it’s not getting a lot of press, we have an open southern border, we have a closed northern border, and no state in the country more than mine, Alaska, is getting negatively impacted by that.
Speaker 9: (18:37)
We can’t get tourists up. We can’t leave. It’s very difficult. The priorities are backwards. We need to close the southern border, President Biden, and open the northern border for Americans like my constituents. So these are the ironies that are impacting this crisis and I’m looking forward to getting out on the border and seeing it firsthand. And we hope you can come with us.
Ted Cruz: (19:08)
Now, we’ll take a couple of questions.
Speaker 10: (19:13)
In tomorrow’s meeting with the big tech leaders, what do you think of Zuckerberg’s proposal to reform Section 230 and make protections conditional based on whether the system-
Ted Cruz: (19:23)
I’d been happy to answer that elsewhere, but let’s keep the questions on the border visit and the press being blocked out.
Speaker 11: (19:28)
There’s a group of Republicans in the House that introduced a measure that would add some border security that would also create a path to citizenship for people who were in this country illegally. Is that something that any of you would support?
Ted Cruz: (19:43)
Look, I’m sure that there will be ongoing debates about what to do concerning immigration. What we know for sure what not to do is what the Biden administration is doing now. It is an absolute crisis and disaster. No state is impacted more than my own state. The Biden administration is releasing illegal immigrants into Texas. It’s setting up detention facilities in Dallas. The Convention Center in downtown Dallas is setting up detention facilities. In Midland, Texas, against the wishes of the community. And they’re releasing people who are criminal threats who have criminal histories. They’re releasing people who are testing positive for COVID and they’re not testing all the people they’re releasing. And it is a public health threat, and the Biden administration refuses to acknowledge it and is trying to cover it up.
Ted Cruz: (20:28)
There is a reason they don’t want the press there. And I ask all of you to think for a moment how you would react, how your network would react, how MSNBC would react if the Trump administration said, “No press at the border.” You would have lost your mind. You would have lit your hair on fire and been screaming air all day long. That’s what Joe Biden is doing to you right now, and he’s doing it because he’s terrified of people seeing the inhumane conditions, seeing the human tragedies. And I’ve been down to the border many times seeing the little boys and little girls that are being physically assaulted, that are being sexually assaulted, that the reports are, are packed so closely that the kids are having to sleep on their sides in the midst of a pandemic. Joe Biden doesn’t want the American people to see that. The purpose of this trip is to help the American people understand the tragedy that’s unfolding. Yeah.
Speaker 12: (21:25)
On the asylum component. Do you think that there should still be an option for people to apply for asylum at the border?
Ted Cruz: (21:30)
So, there is, and we had actually one of the biggest victories, a foreign policy victory and an immigration victory under the Trump administration, what was called the Remain in Mexico Policy, which is an agreement that was negotiated with Mexico. The vast majority of illegal immigrants coming to this country right now are not from Mexico. They’re not Mexicans. A great many of them are Central Americans who are crossing illegally in the Mexico, traveling through Mexico, and then trying to cross illegally into the United States. And what the Trump administration negotiated with the Mexican government is that if you had an illegal immigrant who was applying for asylum, that, that asylum claim could proceed, but that they would remain in Mexico while the claim was proceeding. And that resulted in a precipitous decline in illegal immigration.
Ted Cruz: (22:17)
When Joe Biden got elected President, one of the very first things he did was rip up that international agreement, just effectively threw it in the trash. And as a result, we’re bringing all those folks here even though they’re testing positive for COVID at a much, much higher rate than the U.S. population. And it is irresponsible. It doesn’t make sense. The Remain in Mexico Policy was a sound and reasonable policy that allowed the asylum process to move forward without encouraging illegal immigration. Anyone else?
Speaker 7: (22:47)
Ted, real quick.
Ted Cruz: (22:48)
Speaker 7: (22:50)
I don’t know the exact figure today, but a very high percentage of asylum claims are denied, and the reason we had this flood is because we had set such a low bar on an asylum claim based on credible fear that people would just be let in the country and their claim would never really be adjudicated, it’d go on for years. So that’s a huge incentive for people to come. What’s so sad about the current situation is President Trump with those agreements in Central America, with the MPP Program had pretty well solved the problem, stopped the flow of family units and unaccompanied children that were exploiting that asylum law. And then President Biden just blew that all up. We were also well on our way to fixing this issue of single adults as well by completing the fence, the wall.
Speaker 7: (23:37)
We have 250 miles yet to go, and it’s basically paid for. We’re going to be paying the money whether we build it or not, and he stopped building that wall as well. So, again, we were so close, and this gets to the other gentleman’s question, we want to solve the problem, but you have to start with securing the border. And under the Trump administration, we were so close to accomplishing that. And that’s all been blown up right now and we are back to not only square one, we are so far behind where we were even under the Obama administration. It’s just a tragedy, just a tragedy.
Speaker 13: (24:08)
The Biden administration says that the asylum process was completely dismantled under the Trump administration. So with that said, how should this asylum process be rebuilt other than Remain in Mexico? How many asylum seekers should be let into the country?
Speaker 7: (24:26)
So under Obama, they developed a process, and this is what they’re talking about of apprehending, they don’t even have to try and catch, because people turn themselves in. They apprehend, they process, and they disperse, which is a huge incentive for more people to come in, get apprehended, processed, and dispersed. That’s what President Trump stopped in order to solve the problem of people exploiting our laws. That is exactly what they’re complaining about was dismantled. That’s what we had to dismantle to solve the problem.
Speaker 14: (25:01)
Democrats, I think, would argue that President Trump didn’t solve the problem, he just moved it to the other side of the border. I mean, you’ve got people remaining in Mexico. I don’t have to tell you, [inaudible 00:25:09] is one of the most dangerous cities on the planet. So are you comfortable with the humanitarian implications of saying, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here”?
Ted Cruz: (25:18)
So one of the things Democrats don’t seem to understand is the concept of incentives. In 2011, there were roughly 6,000 unaccompanied children who crossed illegally into this country. Then President Obama signed DACA, signed executive amnesty, amnesty directed at kids. The predictable effect, if you tell people, “You get amnesty if you come to this country illegally as a kid,” is that a lot more kids will come to this country illegally. And as a result of that, illegal and unconstitutional executive amnesty, that number 6,000 skyrocketed the next year to 93,000. In 2014, I visited the cages that were holding kids that were built by Barack Obama, it was Barack Obama who built the cages, and I remember visiting with HHS officials in the Obama administration who described children that were coming over and the cartels that were bringing them in, the cartel members were putting guns to the heads of kids and forcing kids to cut off the fingers or ears of other children.
Ted Cruz: (26:25)
And what the cartels would do then is send those fingers and ears to the parents and extract a few $1000 more for their child that they had handed over to the human smuggler to take to America. And the Obama HHS described to me how they were facing, number one, kids that were horribly mutilated, missing fingers, missing ears, but number two, kids that were facing the psychological trauma of being forced to do that upon threat of death. Right now, the Biden DHS is predicting over 100,000 children. It is not humane, it is not compassionate to have a system that incentivizes and causes more little boys, more little girls to be put in the custody of human traffickers. These children are being physically abused, far too many of them, sexually abused, far too many of them, and it is Joe Biden’s policies that is causing the abuse of these children. It is not compassionate, it is not humane, and we’re going down there to shine a light on the lives, the human tragedy of the failed Biden immigration policies and the Biden border crisis. All right, thank you, guys.
Speaker 7: (27:40)
I just want to give you one more example from our testimony of our hearings. In 2014, about 1% of adult males were coming in with a child. Because of the family loophole, because of those changes, by 2019, it was 50%. We had testimony before a committee that a child was sold for $84 to an adult male so the adult male could bring that purchased child, claim a family unit, and get brought into the country. Again, there’s nothing humane about that treatment, and immigrants being put into stash houses, they’re beaten, the beatings are videotaped. The video tapes are sent back to Central America as ransom. There’s nothing humane about that. And again, what’s so sad about this, they’ve been doing it, we know this is going to be the result of President Biden’s policy. They say they’re trying to be more humane. They are creating a situation for gross and tremendous inhumanity. Thank you.
Speaker 15: (28:36)
Speaker 7: (28:36)
I encourage everybody to get this chart. It shows cause and effect.