(CNSNews.com) – Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli acknowledged Wednesday that the number of apprehensions at the border in June fell 28 percent compared to May, but he said that’s still the third highest month of apprehensions in years.
DHS announced Tuesday that, according to data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), apprehensions dropped from 144,278 in May to 104,344 in June.
“This year’s decline in apprehensions from May to June outpaces last year’s decline by 11 percent,” DHS said on its website.
In an interview with “Fox and Friends,” Cuccinelli said, “We’ve gone from calamity to mere disaster. The May numbers were unprecedented, and particularly given that over 70 percent of those people were in family units or unaccompanied children, that is very difficult to manage.
“And then you throw the kind of numbers on that happened in May, and it reached certainly epic proportions. Some of that has eased in June. The numbers dropped down to about 104,000 from 142,000 I want to say, but understand, that’s still the third highest month in – I don’t even know how many years,” he said.
“The last bit of data I looked at goes back to 2012, so we’re still in crisis mode, but there’s no question the president’s handling of foreign policy in particular with Mexico and the Northern Triangle, is helping to make a difference here,” the acting director said.
“Mexico is now a better partner than they have been in recent memory, and I believe you’re gonna see more headway made with the Northern Triangle countries as well, and again, the president has taken some heat for withdrawing financial aid that we provided to those countries. It seems like the only way that others prior to this president believe we could go is to pay more, give more, do more, rather than to start withholding some things,” he said.
Cuccinelli said “the best long-term approach” to the border crisis is for Congress to act and fix immigration issues that even former President Barack Obama has argued for.
“Look, we’re not going to really get our arms around these numbers at the border until Congress acts. That is the best long-term approach. You know I’m seeing some Congress people say, I can’t wait to go to parks in August and go on vacation. How about if you just stay and fix this problem?” he said.
“And we can do some things that the Obama administration argued for – fix family detention issue with a settlement called the Flores Settlement. The Obama administration had the same position that the Trump administration has on that. Keeping children out of trafficking and repatriating them to their families. We have the same position the Obama administration had on that to fix those holes,” Cuccinelli said.
“These are some of the attractions that are bringing people here in droves illegally, and until we get rid of those incentives - and that requires congressional action - we’re not gonna be able to declare victory in the long-term over the southwest border,” he said.
Cuccinelli was asked about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) suggestion that she would get rid of DHS.
“The point of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security was in response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, where there was … a thorough failure of communication between federal agencies, and we always have to be on guard against falling back into that trap,” the acting director said.
“And I would tell you that as with the creation of Homeland Security, INS was broken up – the old INS. It was broken up into Customs and Border Patrol, into ICE, and into my agency USCIS, and that creates new barriers to communication on the immigration issue, and perhaps we could agree on some things with AOC. You want to get rid of ICE? Reform INS, and let us all work more efficiently again. So who knows if we could find some common ground there,” he said.
Cuccinelli said the changes that need to be made to immigration law can be passed by Congress without a committee hearing.
“We’re not asking for the moon here. We’re asking for some things that even President Obama had the same position on. How hard is that? And on those items, I can put those on one piece of paper, literally. You’re used to Obamacare and other bills being thousands of pages long. I can write this on one piece of paper, and surely, they can pass that without a committee hearing before they go on vacation and head to the beach and to the park,” he said.
Cuccinelli acknowledged that if Democrats worked with Republicans in Congress to change immigration law, it would be seen as a win for President Donald Trump – something Democrats don’t want to hand the president.
“Well that’s right, but God forbid we actually solve a problem,” he said. “Now these are the same people who are calling the crisis that we’re all talking about now manufactured only a few months ago, and DHS - which AOC would like to get rid of – was warning about this problem last year and being mocked for it, and being mocked and then we heard the manufactured crisis language, and then they finally started admitting it. Now we need to start solving it.”