A Democratic congresswoman effectively danced around a question about whether there is a crisis at the southern U.S. border when asked by MSNBC’s Willie Geist.
New Mexico Democrat Rep. Xochitl Torres Small could only see “challenges” at the U.S.-Mexico border where last week President Donald Trump reiterated how thousands of migrants continue to cross illegally into the U.S. every day.
“Do you believe as the president has said that there is some kind of a crisis at the border?” Geist asked the Democrat on Tuesday’s “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. “Do you believe there’s a humanitarian crisis and/or do you believe there’s a national security crisis?”
“So as you mentioned, I grew up along the border and I’m actually the only member of the Homeland Security Committee that represents a district along the U.S.-Mexico border,” Small replied.
“So I see real challenges we are facing and those challenges are getting bigger as we see more and more families voluntarily presenting along the border,” she added.
The lawmaker representing New Mexico’s 2nd congressional district blamed the Trump administration’s “lack of initiative” for the “challenges” at the border, citing an example of immigration judges who have not yet been hired.
“For example, we have a bipartisan agreement to increase judges. That was part of the resolution over the shutdown. Instead, those immigration judges haven’t been hired,” she said. “So there are ways we can make our asylum process more efficient that are just being ignored right now.”
“So you believe there is a crisis at the border, though, but it’s just that there’s not enough being done about it?” Geist pressed.
“I believe that there are real challenges along the border,” the congresswoman repeated, ” and that we have to work together to address them. Whether we’re squabbling over what the language is I think further divides us instead of focusing on the ways we can fix what’s happening.”
Small joined Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas to introduce bipartisan legislation in an effort to address those “challenges” facing Customs and Border Protection. In a recent interview with NPR, she pointed to a “recruitment and retention strategy” to deal with a CBP personnel issue as she claimed “it’s hard to keep folks in these areas where they’re most needed.”
“My concern is that there aren’t people in the right places. And that’s because it’s harder to keep people. We’ve got that turnover problem in our most remote areas. I’m also concerned that CBP is not quickly adapting to these changing circumstances. For example, all of this discussion about a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border really doesn’t focus on the fact that we’re seeing more people voluntarily presenting along the border, and a wall would not be effective in addressing that,” Small argued.
“Instead, we need to do things like have more immigration judges along the border to help clarify the asylum process and get to a quicker resolution. We need more people to help process these claims, and we need the technology to do so,” she added.
“Law enforcement that I’ve talked to are frustrated that they’re not able to, one, do their job with the people who are voluntarily presenting and make sure that they have a safe place to be held and, two, that they’re not able to identify other people who are trying to evade detection because they are so overburdened with the processing of people who are voluntarily presenting,” the Democrat explained.
Speaking at a border security roundtable in California last week, the president emphasized the “big emergency” that is continuing to escalate at the border, announcing a new message for asylum-seekers.
Pres. Trump’s blunt message to those intending to come to the U.S. — even those potentially seeking asylum: “We can’t take you. Our country is full. Our area is full. The sector is full. Can’t take you anymore. I’m sorry.” pic.twitter.com/uPbC0g5inA
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) April 6, 2019
“The system is full. We can’t take you anymore. Whether it’s asylum, whether it’s anything you want, it’s illegal migration, we can’t take you anymore,” Trump said. “Our country is full, our area’s full, the sector is full. We can’t take you anymore, I’m sorry, can’t happen. So turn around, that’s the way it is.”
The National Border Patrol Council’s vice president condemned Democrats last week for being all talk and no action when it comes to the U.S.-Mexico border. Art del Cueto extended an “open invitation” to Democrats who continue to doubt and mock Trump’s warnings about the national emergency at the southern border, saying he’d be happy to “show them” personally.
Mexican officials sounded the alarm over another migrant caravan of people from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Venezuela, which they believe could reach about 20,000 in number. The president threatened to shut down the border if Mexico did not immediately stop the flow of illegal immigration into the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that March was on track to become “the highest month” for border apprehensions in over a decade.
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