Yesterday, U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar joined a Washington Post event, moderated by Washington Post reporter Leigh Ann Caldwell, to discuss the urgent need for border security measures. During the discussion, Cuellar emphasized the need to address the pull factors that are contributing to the record number of encounters at the U.S. Southern Border.
Key quotes from Rep. Cuellar on the importance of securing the border:
On working together with the State of Texas to secure the border: “I want to see the state of Texas, I want to see the Governor, work with us and the federal Border Patrol. Coordinate and communicate. But when you are doing things solo, and saying, ‘I’m standing up to President Biden’ and not being part of a team effort, then I think that’s a disservice to the efforts to try to find a solution on how we secure the border. They went in and kicked out Border Patrol. They didn’t even tell the local Mayor or the local officials they were doing it, and they just went in Lone Ranger style, saying they were in charge of the border.”
On the need for consequences at the border: “The first thing I would tell the President if I was advising him: we’ve got to show there are consequences at the border. As long as people think all they have to do is touch the border and then they can come into the U.S., which is happening, then people are going to continue to come. Now, keep in mind that President Obama did not change the law and did not use Title 42, but he was better able to secure the border by just enforcing the law, which is Title 8 expedited removal. So you’ve got to have those consequences at the border.”
On increasing funding for the Department of Homeland Security: “Money in the right places is important. Should we put money in the operational capacity [of the Department of Homeland Security], which means detain and deport? Yes. Right now, the money in the operational capacity of Homeland [isn’t enough], and they are overwhelmed, and therefore there are more people coming in, and more catch and release.”
On the need for comprehensive immigration reform: “I want to do full immigration reform, which covers three things: border security, some sort of temporary worker process, and what to do about the 11 or 12 million people, maybe even more now, here in the US.”
As Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Appropriations, Cuellar has long been a supporter of strong border security measures. In the FY23 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, Cuellar helped secure funding for 300 new Border Patrol Agents and 300 new Border Patrol Processing Coordinators, along with $60 million for an additional 125 Customs Officers, 250 technicians, and 250 mission support staff. Additionally, Cuellar helped secure $230 million for smart border technology to better stop criminals, including $150 million for procurement and $20 million for innovative technology.