Nogales, Arizona - Remarks by Vice President Pence in Briefing with U.S. Border Patrol:
CHIEF VILLAREAL: Vice President, thank you. Welcome to Nogales Station.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Chief.
CHIEF VILLAREAL: Sir, I just want to take the time to highlight some of the tools of our trade, but more importantly, I think it’s important that we had a robust conversation down here, but that we — when I say “we,” Congress, the Department of Homeland Security, and the American public — recognize that border security is national security.
What we have going on right now is a crisis. Our immigration system has been overwhelmed to the point that it’s broken. We weren’t set up for the type of migration that we’re seeing today. The illegal alien population is family units, it’s children. Our old system was designed for a single adult from Mexico and had (inaudible). From that perspective, that national could be processed, returned to Mexico in a very short of period of time.
Today’s population of illegal aliens is not that at all. They’re exploiting our loopholes in the laws by coming over as families, by claiming asylum. And so we lack the capacity to detain these individuals, which results in them being released.
But when we talk about a humanitarian crisis and a border enforcement crisis, I wanted to highlight this. This is the humanitarian aspect. This is — these are families, these kids dropped off in the desert. This is just east of Ajo, Arizona. Right now, it’s relatively cool, but you give it about another month, and it’s going to be 100 to 120 degrees out here. It’s a vulnerable population that would succumb to the heat out there.
But what’s important here is that, if you look, there are three Border Patrol units there. There are probably another four or five responding. I have to pull 10 to 14 agents out of field, which creates a gap in border security.
So, for me, that vulnerability is then exploited by organized criminal syndicates that are sending over aliens that don’t want to be arrested, and this includes criminal aliens. In the last week, we’ve arrested 17 criminal aliens that had convictions for robbery, rape, child molestation, narcotics trafficking. And they’re interwoven in this mixture with the family units. And then, when they see these vulnerabilities, these gaps that are created as a result of this, they exploit that.
And one of the things that we see, if I may, the anomaly out here in Arizona is — for those that don’t want to be arrested — putting these booties on, the proper booties, so that we can’t track their (inaudible). They’re camouflage from toe to head. It’s orchestrated. It is well organized. And it’s that threat that truly concerns me.
When you look across the southwest border on a daily basis, we are witnessing this migratory flow every day. And until we take some sort of action, the threat is only going to continue and the degradation of more security is going to continue.
Thank you. And before I forget — I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity: The men and women of Tucson Sector wanted to say thank you. We truly appreciate the support that you’ve given us. We appreciate the fact that both you and President Trump have championed this, have brought this to the attention of the American public. And hopefully we can get something done, because this crisis will not change until something takes place.
Thank you, sir.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Chief. Thank you so much.
Well, let me say, Chief, thank you so much. It’s an honor to be in the Tucson Sector and an honor to be here with your Governor, the Deputy Commissioner, and all of these extraordinary men and women of law enforcement here in Nogales. We’re grateful for the work that you do every day. And I’m here because President Trump and I recognize that we have a crisis on our southern border.
But to be here in the Nogales community, to see the work that you’re doing, to fly over the border as we have, reinforces the determination that we have to get you the resources, build the physical barrier, but also to make the changes in the law that are necessary to end that humanitarian crisis that you see depicted here.
And I was told — the Deputy Commissioner and I were on the flight out here — I was told, this last Tuesday, 4,300 people were apprehended attempting to come into this country illegally. It is the highest single day total ever recorded by Customs and Border Patrol. Four thousand three hundred people a day. And I know you have physical barrier in this area — in Nogales, I know — and the Tucson Sector used to be the epicenter, a decade ago, of illegal immigration. And because of your work here and because of the presence of physical barriers, that’s diminished greatly.
But in Texas and other areas, we see this incredible (inaudible). And that’s why the President and I are absolutely determined to make sure you have the resources you need, and the men and women who serve in the green uniforms have the resources that you need to accomplish your mission to secure our borders and to come home safe to your families.
There’s no question, though, that people are suffering on both sides of the border. I just finished walking through the detention center. And every American has a heavy heart. The fact that we have loopholes in our laws today that human traffickers and drug cartels are using to entice vulnerable families to make the long and dangerous journey up from Central America to come into our country illegally. These people, these families, are being exploited by drug cartels and human traffickers. And in these criminal organizations, as you said, Chief, are exploiting loopholes in our laws.
And so President Trump and I are calling on the Congress to come together and close the loopholes in our asylum laws to bring about the change that allow us to return individuals that are apprehended in this country to their countries in Central America, the way that we can today in Mexico, to give us greater flexibility with regard to detention as we process individuals, and ultimately to change what is known commonly as catch and release, where people know, in Central America, that human traffickers will take cash to bring them up here and tell them, “If you make it, the Americans have a system where you can vanish.” I learned today that there’s a million people in the United States today who were denied asylum through the judicial process but vanished into the United States.
So we have a broken system. We have a porous border. You saw the President’s determination to secure funding for a wall. And I know there’ll be some 80 miles between Tucson and the Yuma Sector where we’ll be building physical barriers in the next year. But we call on Congress today to do your job. And the courageous men and women of our Customs and Border Patrol are doing their job every day. President Trump has done his job securing the funding to support your efforts and to build a wall. But now it’s time for Congress to do their job to come together on a bipartisan basis and address this very real crisis for the sake of the American people and for the sake of our security, and to end this crisis of illegal immigration on our southern border.
But I want to thank you, Chief, for your efforts and for the courageous efforts of your team every day.