Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of Homeland Security, said Tuesday night that President Donald Trump’s administration is treating the illegal immigration crisis at the border as if it were a “Cat 5 hurricane disaster” and “is bringing all of the agencies together. We’re asking everybody to chip in.”
She appeared on Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” as host Tucker Carlson pointed out that “entire populations from Latin America are [now] moving north. In February, authorities apprehended 76,000 illegal arrivals at the Mexican border, but last month, that number had ballooned to 100,000.”
He also noted that today — as opposed to years ago, when mostly single men tried to cross the border — “if illegal immigrants show up here with children, they’re almost certain to be released into the United States. They will never be deported. Close to 100 percent of children in families that tainted the border last year are still here. It’s a scam.”
“Our current political class,” Carlson added, “has spent years pretending that is not true. [Yet] in villages across Central America, they know it is true. Come to America, bring your kids, free schools, free health care, higher wages — they can’t kick you out … No wonder our immigration is out of control.”
President Trump, during his candidacy, spoke about the problems of illegal immigration and that topic made many in America sit up straight and pay attention.
He’s continuing to “raise the alarm bell,” said Nielsen, “but only now are we starting to see a mainstream press, not on this particular channel, [report] that there is a crisis. And that’s what there is. So … we are sending more migrants back to Mexico to await their immigration proceedings. We are pulling folks from the ports of entry to help interdict those who are choosing to come here illegally. It is a crime … It is a crime to come illegally between ports of entry, to stop them and to provide humanitarian assistance. By the smugglers — they are coming through remote areas … Many of the people coming [here] are economic migrants. They are not truly seeking asylum.”
“We want to help those who are,” she added. “But many of them have been given ‘magic words’ to come in and to get a job and take that job away from Americans. So we are looking to increase rates at E-Verify. We’ve made it easier for employers to comply with it, but we’re looking to do everything we can throughout the system to apply penalties where we can.”
Carlson asked her, “Why wouldn’t your agency write an executive order, present it to the president, and have him sign it and do it tomorrow?”
“Everything is on the table,” she replied. “We’ll do everything we can within our authority … There’s just a debate with Congress, as to whether the executive branch has the authority to do that. We can expand the program, but right now, it’s only authorized in a voluntary way, not a mandatory way … It’s one of many issues we’re looking to work with Congress on. We’ll continue to drive that.”
She noted that closing the border is also still on the table. “We have to stop this flow into our communities. We have to stop the drugs. We have to stop the smuggling and trafficking and gangs. He [Trump] is very serious about it, so yes, I think everything is on table. In the meantime, I remain optimistic in the sense that I refuse to believe that the United States Congress will not act. I just – it’s not a partisan issue.”
Nielsen described the active smuggling activity her agency and others have seen — including the so-called “child recycling” rings.
In this scenario, “smugglers kidnap a child. They give [the child] to an adult to cross the border, present themselves as a family. Once they get in, because, as you know, we can only hold families for 20 days, they send the child back and bring the child back with another family — another fake family, another adult … I cannot be clearer and I don’t think the president can be any clearer; he will take every action within his authority to stop this flow.”
And the country does not yet have the full border wall that “the president continues to advocate for,” she noted.
“I talked to some of the combatant commanders today. We are, in fact, pushing more and more military resources to the border. And that’s what’s required.”
Nielsen added that this issue is one of the biggest crises, “if not the biggest crisis,” that “this country has faced in a decade, truly.”
And that’s why, she added, that “we have announced today that we’re now treating this like a massive CAT 5 hurricane disaster. We are bringing all of the inner agency together. We’re asking everybody to chip in. We need to … surge down as many resources as we can to the border. But Congress needs to look at this as a hurricane too. Right? Where is the supplemental? Where are the additional authorities? … I’m in constant contact with the acting secretary of defense. I talked to some of the combatant commanders today. We are, in fact, pushing more and more military resources to the border. And that’s what’s required.”
The secretary, later in the interview, also mentioned — in response to a question from Carlson — she believes many in Congress are “blinded by politics” on this issue.
She added that the “good news is the president requested and did receive additional resources at the border to interdict drugs. And we are actively implementing this. But to your point, the facts don’t lie. So I don’t believe that they [members of Congress] don’t see it or they don’t understand it. They are just willfully choosing to ignore it, but the more Americans who suffer, [the more] they’re going to have to look at this. I hope they do it sooner than later.”