Sen. Cruz to Congressional Democrats: The Crisis on the Border Is Real and It’s Overwhelming Texas Communities
On Thursday I delivered remarks on the Senate floor describing my recent trip to the southern border, where I witnessed the existing security and humanitarian crisis firsthand. I then called on congressional Democrats to acknowledge the ongoing situation at the border as a crisis, and solve the problem. Specifically, I called on Congress to increase the number of federal judges and to close the loopholes within the asylum system.
From Brownsville to McAllen, to Laredo, to Eagle Pass, to Del Rio, to El Paso and beyond, Texas communities are at their breaking point in terms of resources and manpower in dealing with this crisis. I am hearing this from elected officials throughout south Texas, Democrats and Republicans; the crisis has reached a breaking point. Instead of acknowledging this crisis exists, instead of doing the responsible thing and taking action, congressional Democrats instead have stubbornly clung to open-borders fantasies. Speaker Pelosi has called the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants coming through our border a ‘manufactured crisis.' Some of our colleagues on the presidential trail have called it a ‘fake crisis' and ‘fear-mongering of the worst kind.' Or have said that climate change is a more serious crisis. All that I can tell them is: go to the border.
Last week, I toured the Rio Grande Valley Centralized Processing Center, the largest immigration-processing center in the United States. I also traveled to "Rincon Village," ground zero for undocumented border crossings located near Mission, Texas. There, I participated in a Border Safety Initiative event, which highlighted the RGV Sector Border Patrol's efforts to save lives in the harsh terrain of the Rio Grande Valley. I concluded my tour with an aerial overview of the Rio Grande Valley with CBP Air and Marine Operations. In May, the Border Patrol apprehended over 144,000 individuals along the southern border, a record-breaking number.
U.S. Border Crisis by the Numbers in the Rio Grande Valley
- 50,000 apprehensions in the RGV sector in May
- 12 deaths at the border last week
- 1,400 fraudulent families detected
- 30 hospital trips each day
- 50% of single males apprehended at the border had a child with them, up from 2% in 2014
- 60 countries of origin for individuals apprehended
- 60% of border patrol agents at detention centers, instead of the border
My full remarks may be found here and below:
"Mr. President, I rise to address one of the most pressing crises the American people are facing today. Our refusal to address the crisis at the border is inexcusable.
"Right now, Texas and other border states are being overwhelmed by the thousands upon thousands of illegal immigrants who are flooding into small communities monthly. Our inaction, the inaction of the United States Congress, leaves these communities responsible for paying for where these illegal immigrants will stay, for how they will receive medical care, and for where they will go when they are released.
"From Brownsville to McAllen, to Laredo, to Eagle Pass, to Del Rio, to El Paso and beyond, Texas communities are at their breaking point in terms of resources and manpower in dealing with this crisis. I am hearing this from elected officials throughout south Texas, Democrats and Republicans; the crisis has reached a breaking point.
"Our hardworking Border Patrol agents are also struggling with the enormous influx of illegal immigrants. It's been reported that there are now more illegal immigrants in custody than Border Patrol agents on the southern border. And thousands more are being apprehended daily.
"Since last October, over half a million illegal immigrants have been apprehended at our southern border, many of them having traveled through Mexico, from El Salvador, from Honduras, and Guatemala. Over 200,000 of these illegal immigrants were single adults, over 56,000 of them were unaccompanied children.
"During this time, the Border Patrol also apprehended nearly 700 gang members trying to illegally enter the United States. In the month of May alone, the Border Patrol apprehended over 144,000 people coming through the southern border: 144,000 in a single month. If that pace were to continue for a year, we would be looking at nearly two million apprehensions in just one year. That's a staggering number of illegal immigrants for Texas and other border states to take in.
"Instead of acknowledging this crisis exists, instead of doing the responsible thing and taking action, congressional Democrats instead have stubbornly clung to open-borders fantasies.
"Speaker Pelosi has called the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants coming through our border a ‘manufactured crisis.' Some of our colleagues on the presidential trail have called it a ‘fake crisis' and ‘fear-mongering of the worst kind.' Or have said that climate change is a more serious crisis.
"All that I can tell them is: go to the border. The crisis at the border is very real, despite what the Democratic talking points say. Last week, I visited the Rio Grande Valley as I have done many times in representing the state of Texas in the U.S. Senate. I toured the Rio Grande Valley Centralized Processing Center, the largest immigration processing center in the United States. I also traveled to ‘Rincon Village,' which is ground zero for illegal border crossings near Mission, Texas. What I saw there was staggering.
"When I was in the Rio Grande Valley, the RGV Sector Chief told me that in 2014, just five years ago, roughly two percent of single adult men crossing illegally into the Rio Grande Valley had a child with them. Today, that number is roughly 50 percent. Two percent, all the way up to 50 percent. The word is out among traffickers, among smugglers, among others seeking to illegally enter the United States that coming with a child is a get out of jail free pass.
"According to the Border Patrol, family unit apprehensions have increased by 463 percent since last year, with increases of 2,100 percent in El Paso and 1,034 percent in Del Rio.
"I also learned of a recent pilot program that used rapid DNA tests to discover whether these family units were real. Nearly 30 percent were found to be fraudulent in the Rio Grande Valley-in other words, the adults bringing kids into the United States illegally weren't related to the children.
"This is one of the most tragic elements of the crisis: the number of children who are being trafficked, who are being physically abused, sexually abused, and neglected. Often, they are being used as pawns.
"But that's not all. In the Rio Grande Valley, 60 percent of Border Patrol agents are now helping to process and care for children and family units. That means only 40 percent are dedicated to border security. More than half of the border patrol agents in our nation's busiest crossing point for illegal immigrants are not on the border stopping narcotics traffickers, stopping human traffickers because they are instead changing diapers, they are instead caring for children because the volume is so massive. Just recently, the Rio Grande Valley sector canceled their horseback patrol because they lack the manpower because they are instead caring for the massive influx of illegal immigrants. On average, they make 30 trips to the hospital a day. On average [...] one child is born each day to an illegal immigrant who has come over. Last week, 12 people died.
"This is a crisis. And by refusing to address our border crisis, we invite child smuggling and child abuse. That's shameful and that is a tragedy.
"We know how many illegal immigrants are being apprehended. We know that more and more illegal immigrants are trying to get into our country and we know our Border Patrol doesn't have the manpower or the resources to handle a humanitarian crisis at this scale. It's a fact and it is a reality that our Democratic colleagues need to face.
"Nobody who is compassionate, nobody who wants to be virtuous, nobody who cares about other human beings would want to perpetuate what is happening at the border for even a single day. We should be angry. We should be angry at politicians who say this is a made-up crisis.
"We should be angry at politicians who keep the loopholes in place that ensure that more and more children, more and more little boys, more and more little girls will be abused at the hands of human smugglers.
"While the passage of the $4.5 billion border supplemental bill a few weeks ago was a good first step, Democrats in Congress need to finally do their job and work with Republicans and work with President Trump to secure our border.
"We need to build a wall, we need to enforce immigration laws already on the books, we need to reform our amnesty laws to prevent asylum abuse, and we need to support the brave men and women of the Border Patrol with all the resources they need to effectively secure the border.
"I've introduced legislation to secure the border using the billions from El Chapo's criminal fortune that the Department of Justice is seeking to criminally forfeit to use El Chapo's ill-gotten goods and those of other drug lords, use those billions to build the wall. The EL CHAPO Act would reserve any amounts criminally forfeited to the federal government as a result of the criminal prosecution of El Chapo or other drug kingpins for the building of a border wall and other border security assets.
"I'm also a cosponsor of the WALL Act, which would fully fund the border wall by closing existing loopholes that provide illegal immigrants with federal benefits and tax credits, all without affecting the benefits and tax credits used by American citizens.
"These bills are just two common-sense ways to secure the border, and everyone should support taking money from murderers, from drug smugglers, from human traffickers such as El Chapo and using it to prevent murder, and drug smuggling, and human trafficking - all without costing American taxpayers even a dime, or adding anything to the federal deficit.
"We also need more judges, and we need to close the loopholes in our asylum system. Right now, immigration courts have a backlog of about 900,000 pending cases. Nearly a million. Increasing the number of immigration judges and providing an expedited process for asylum claims is necessary so that migrants who don't qualify for asylum can be quickly returned to their home countries rather than released into the United States.
"These reforms are necessary, and they need to happen. Mr. President, we know how to solve this problem. We don't have to ask theoretically because we've seen it happen, specifically in the first six months of 2017 right after President Trump was elected and sworn into office. Illegal immigration dropped nearly 70 percent. It plummeted.
"I remember going back down to the Valley in early 2017, asking the Border Patrol agents, ‘Why did the illegal crossings drop?' We hadn't built a wall yet. We hadn't hired new Border Patrol agents. What changed? And Mr. President what those Border Patrol agents told me is they said the only thing that changed is the human smugglers, the traffickers now believe that there is an administration in office who will enforce the law, who will deport them if they come here illegally. That one change, the traffickers believing the administration would send them home dropped illegal immigration 70 percent.
"Well then what happened? Why did we see this enormous deluge we're seeing right now? Well, the answer is the United States Congress put loopholes in the law that mandate the release of children. In a short timeframe and under a court decision called the Flores decision, adults with a child get released as well. That process is what's known as catch and release. It means someone who is apprehended is given a court date some months or years into the future and then let go on the hope that they will magically show up. Far too many of them don't show up. But what happened in 2017, in the summer of 2017 is illegal immigrants would pick up the phone and they'd call their friends, they'd call their family back home, and they'd say, ‘You know what? Policy hasn't changed, we still get to stay. There are still no consequences, come on over.'
"But even worse than that, smugglers learned that bringing a child is the ticket to crossing illegally in this country. The detention facility I saw in the Valley, there was a portion of the facility that the officers refer to as ‘Daddy Daycare,' because it was simply filled with young single men who had little kids with them. Five years ago, two percent of single men had kids. Today, 50 percent of single men have kids. Because if you grab a little boy or a little girl, you can come over. And I'll tell you, because of the loopholes Congress has put in place, Border Patrol has been forced to release people who are convicted murders. Forced to release people who are convicted pedophiles. Forced to release adults with sexual assault convictions and children in their custody. Why? Because it is so expedited that by the time they find out about the convictions, they've been forced to release them already.
"This is cruel, it is inhumane, and when the rapid DNA testing is showing nearly 30 percent of the adults are not related to the kids, it explains why we are hearing more and more reports of children being rented or sold by the cartels.
"This has to stop, and the political posturing from Democrats running for president and Democrats in Congress refusing to solve this problem. It is past time for those games, it is time to solve this crisis."