Washington, DC - Vice President Pence at Roundtable Discussion with U.S. Border Patrol and Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee:
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all for being here. It’s my honor to be with you all and to have the opportunity to see firsthand the extraordinary and compassionate professionalism of Customs and Border Protection.
We literally just came from another facility, and — the Donna soft-sided processing facility. And while we hear some Democrats in Washington, D.C. referring to U.S. Customs and Border facilities as “concentration camps,” what we saw today was a facility that is providing care that every American would be proud of.
And I want to thank all of those serving in Customs and Border Protection for your professionalism and for your compassion for the families that are swept up in this crisis.
Now, President Trump asked me to be here today — and not just to say thanks, but also to make it possible (inaudible) led by the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Lindsey Graham, and a member of Congress to see firsthand the work that you are doing. And the President also took steps to make sure that the American people could see what’s happening here.
It’s time that we moved past the harsh rhetoric of the American Left and we move to the facts. And the facts are, is we have a crisis on our southern border that is being driven by human traffickers who are exploiting loopholes in American law to entice vulnerable families to make the long and dangerous journey north.
I have to tell you, for Karen and me, it was frankly heartbreaking, as parents, to talk to young children who told us of having walked two and three months up the peninsula to cross into our country. And that has to change.
And I know I speak on behalf of the President and millions of Americans, Senator Graham and all of the senators, and a member who is here from the House of Representatives, when I say we are grateful for your efforts in supporting border security. We are grateful for the humanitarian support that we are able to move on a bipartisan basis. And we’re also especially grateful, Senator Graham, for your efforts in attempting to move legislation that will close the loopholes, that will end catch-and-release.
It is remarkable to think that roughly a thousand people that we just visited at the Donna processing facility will literally all be released into the United States within the next 20 days because of current court orders, and law, and processes that are in place.
These families have been subject to abuse, in many cases, on the way north. Doctors Without Borders has documented that 30 percent of the young women that make the long and dangerous journey north are sexually assaulted. We have a moral obligation to reform our asylum laws and bring this crisis of illegal immigration to an end.
But let me again thank Senator Graham; as well as Senator John Cornyn, from here in Texas; Senator Mike Lee; Senator Marsha Blackburn; Senator Rob Portman; Senator Thom Tillis; Senator Josh Hawley; and Congressman Tom Rice for taking time to come here and see for yourself what’s happening.
We know each one of you is going to carry back this experience — not only at the Donna processing facility, but here at the McAllen station — to carry that into the debate, to call on the Congress to make the changes that we know they need to make.
I also want to thank Acting Secretary McAleenan and all of the leadership here for the work that you’re doing each and every day. It’s important to remember that the Border Patrol — the Border Patrol’s job is to secure the border. It’s to apprehend people that are trying to come into this country illegally and to prevent the flow of illegal drugs that are coming across our southern border and tearing apart our families and our communities.
But here in the Rio Grande Valley, increasingly, our Customs and Border Protection personnel are caught up in this massive migration that we’ll witness again today when we tour this facility.
But this time, we’ll bring the American people with us. And I believe that they will see that, despite the fact that many Democrats in Washington say this is a “manufactured crisis,” the crisis is real. And the time for action is now. And the President and I are going to continue to call on the Congress to step up and end this crisis by bringing about changes in the law that will be necessary and will impact the flow — not only here in the Rio Grande Valley, where some 60 percent of the apprehensions and detentions are taking place, but also all across our southern border.
The American people — the American people are accustomed to harsh rhetoric out of Washington, D.C., and seeing politicians playing fast and loose with facts. But it seems like it’s been particularly true in this case. For the last six months, President Trump and I have been saying that we have a crisis on our southern border.
The good news is that there’s now a consensus in Washington, D.C., that a crisis exists. But rather than pointing fingers and grandstanding on Capitol Hill — that we saw again today — I want to make it clear: The President and I are ready to roll our sleeves up and work with men and women in both political parties in the Congress to bring about the changes that will bring an end to this crisis.
What the American people are going to see today — as we toured the Donna facility and as we toured the facility here in McAllen, we’ll confirm two things: The crisis is real. This is not a manufactured crisis. And it’ll also prove that despite what they have heard in the harsh political rhetoric in Washington, D.C., that the men and women of Customs and Border Protection are doing an honorable and compassionate job in an overwhelming situation.
I expect we will see, here at McAllen, that this facility is overcrowded. That will be evidence that this crisis is real. Make no mistake about it, the President and I are going to continue to provide each of you who wear the uniform and do the work here in McAllen and throughout the Rio Grande Valley with the support and the resources you need to do your job to secure the border, to provide humanitarian detention to the those who come into our country illegally.
But let me say again to Senator Graham, to all the members of Congress and the Senate who are here with us today: The time for action is now and we couldn’t be more grateful that you’ve dedicated the time and your energies and your leadership to help advance the kind of reforms that will bring this crisis on our southern border to an end.