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The Immigration Debate - 04/04/21 - Segment 1
KEN MOLESTINA: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today. I'm Ken Molestina, and this is "To the Point."
The immigration debate is front and center once again after thousands of people have recently crossed the southern border. More than 18,000 migrant children, many of them unaccompanied, are in US custody. In the last week, reporters got their first look inside of a crowded facility in Donna, a town near McAllen in South Texas. The Biden administration has set up a facility at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas to temporarily house thousands of teens. Other shelters are quickly being established in places like Fort Bliss in El Paso.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz has visited the border and the temporary facility at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center in Dallas. Last week he told the media that what we're seeing now at the border was, quote, "entirely preventable."
TED CRUZ: This crisis that is unfolding is the direct result of political decisions made by Joe Biden and his administration. Three decisions in particular provoked this crisis. Number one, the first week in office, Joe Biden immediately halted construction of the border wall. I visited portions of the wall that had been constructed. Where it had been constructed, it was effective in slowing illegal immigration. But the construction is not complete, so there are huge holes.
The instant Joe Biden was sworn in, construction halted. The holes are left wide open. Illegal immigration is crossing through the holes. There was rusted rebar sitting in huge piles on the ground. They literally just stopped and left with large construction equipment still left at the wall idle.
The second decision the Biden administration made was to reinstate the failed catch-and-release policy so that now when individuals are apprehended, they're given a court date sometime in the future. They're released, and everyone knows that only a very small percentage will ever actually show up to that court date.
And third and probably most inexplicably, Joe Biden ended the remain in Mexico international agreement. One of the most significant accomplishments of the Trump administration is President Trump had negotiated with the government of Mexico an agreement that individuals from Central America who were crossing illegally through Mexico would remain in Mexico while their asylum cases were proceeding here in the United States. That agreement, a landmark agreement, resulted in a dramatic decrease in illegal immigration.
Last year in the year 2020, we had the lowest illegal immigration in 45 years. The policies were working.
KEN MOLESTINA: Well, during his first formal press conference as president last month, Joe Biden blamed part of the issue on his predecessor, Donald Trump.
JOE BIDEN: A, to deal with this problem-- and I started to deal with it back when I was a United States senator-- I mean vice president-- for putting together a bipartisan plan of over $700 million to do the root causes of why people are leaving. What did Trump do? He eliminated that funding. He didn't use it. He didn't do it.
And in addition to that, what he did, he dismantled all the elements that exist to deal with what has been a problem and has continued to be a problem for a long time. He, in fact, shut down the number of beds available. He did not fund HHS to get people to get the children out of those Border Patrol facilities where they should not be. They're not supposed to be more than a few days, a little while. But he dismantled all of that.
And so what we're doing now is attempting to rebuild-- rebuild a system that can accommodate what is happening today.
KEN MOLESTINA: The national president of LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens, talked about the holding center here in Dallas. Domingo Garcia called for action on both the state and the federal level and for political parties.
DOMINGO GARCIA: Governor Abbott, you said that these children were the victims of sexual trafficking, human trafficking. If they are so, then we're asking you today to have the Texas Department of Public Safety grant S-- apply for S visas, victims of crime, for all these children, allowing them to be legally in this country. That's what you said. And let's go after the bad guys. If there are coyotes, if there are smugglers, let's get them and use these children's stories to do that.
But if you say one thing and then you say they're bringing disease, then that's a little bit hypocritical, Governor Abbott. And again, you need to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Sending National Guard troops and Highway Patrol officers to the border doesn't solve anything. These kids are turning themselves in at the bridges. They're asking for political asylum. They're asking to have their day in court. And so we need to realize that that's the issue.
President Biden also and Secretary Mayorkas, they have issues too. They need to tell Central Americans that the border is closed, that 98% of the people who come across are being deported to their country of origin or to Mexico, and that only the children are being allowed a day in court, and everybody else has to apply at their country where they are coming from. Open borders and abolishing ICE are not good political principles, and they're not good for America. We need to reform ICE, we need to control our borders, and we need to open up our legal system in order to do so. That means taking that cap of 20,000 per country off and passing immigration reform that's pending right now in the US Senate and that Senator Cruz and Senator Cornyn can do something about. And that will really be something that's positive, and it would stop that crisis that we're seeing at the border.
Building a wall, getting-- hiring immigration and Border Patrol agents is not going to solve the problem. All you're doing is you've got to turn off that faucet where all these kids are coming from, and that's Central America and that triangle down there where they have been subject to hurricanes, criminal violence, economic despair. And we need to turn off that faucet there where it begins.
So we're asking the governor to help us in that situation as well as our two US senators in terms of what's happening in Washington, DC.
KEN MOLESTINA: Well, that is what is happening now as our state and country wrestle with migrants crossing the border. But is this a new surge? That's the big question, something that happens every season, and what are the solutions to all of this? We're going to turn to the academic world for some more insight. That's coming up next on "To the Point."