Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar conceded that the southern US border is “obviously” not secure, as he urged President Biden to step up deportations of immigrants trying to enter illegally.
“If you don’t deport people, they will see the border as a speed bump,” Cuellar, who represents a district on the Texas border, said Tuesday on Fox News’ “The Faulkner Focus.” “We have to deport people. We have to deport people who aren’t supposed to be here.”
“What we’re seeing is two profiles of individuals: The people that turn themselves in, the family units, the unaccompanied kids,” he said.
“But then you have the ones that want to evade and this is what your story was covering, the people who want to evade and where we need to coordinate federal, state, and local government,” Cuellar added.
But he said his pleas to the Biden administration to institute strict penalties against violators have been ignored.
“Obviously the border is not secure and I’ve been saying this for so many years,” he insisted.
“We got to look at what Secretary Jay Johnson did. Actually, [former] President [Donald] Trump deported less people than [former] President [Barack] Obama because we had the right repercussions. You got to have the right repercussions,” he said.
Republicans have criticized the president for rolling back many of the Trump administration’s immigration policies as soon as he entered the White House, including the “Remain in Mexico” that allowed border officials to send asylum-seekers back across the border while they await their decisions on their applications.
Cuellar also said the border security should be beefed up by adding more personnel, technology and cameras.
“Playing defense on the one-yard line called the U.S. border is one thing,” he said. “We have to play defense on the 20-yard line.”
Border officials’ encounters with immigrants have soared to more than 2 million in fiscal year 2022, which ends Sept. 30, according to figures from Customs and Border Protection.
In August alone, there were 203,598 encounters along the southern border, a 1.7% increase over July.
The crisis has led some Republican governors – Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida – to ship immigrants to cities inside the country, including New York, Washington, DC, and even the liberal oceanside enclave of Martha’s Vineyard.