(CNSNews.com) - In his first press conference from the White House briefing room, President Donald Trump, flanked by Border Patrol officials, stressed the need for a border wall.
The president began by congratulating newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on her speakership.
“I just want to start off by congratulating Nancy Pelosi on being elected Speaker of the House. It's a very, very great achievement, and hopefully we're going to work together and we're going to get lots of things done, like infrastructure and so much more. I know they want to do that very badly, and so do I,” Trump said.
“So, hopefully, we're going to have a lot of things that we can get done together, and I think it's actually going to work out. I think it'll be a little bit different than a lot of people are thinking. So I congratulate Nancy. Tremendous, tremendous achievement,” he said.
The president was joined at the podium by members of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Border Patrol, who he said “have been extremely supportive of what we're doing on the border.”
“I'm going to have them introduce themselves right now and also say a few words about the wall, about -- you can call it a barrier. You can call it whatever you want, but essentially, we need protection in our country We're going to make it good. The people of our country want it. I have never had so much support, as I have in the last week, over my stance for border security, for border control and for, frankly, the wall or the barrier,” he said.
“I have never had anything like it in terms of calls coming in, in terms of people writing in and tweeting, and doing whatever they have to do. I have never had this much support, and we've done some things that, as you know, have been very popular,” Trump said.
CBP apprehended 17,000 criminals trying to cross the southern border last year, the president noted. “And that's one category. There are plenty of others. The other thing that has been so incredible is what they've done in terms of drugs and stopping drugs, and with that -- and with everything else -- plenty, unfortunately, come through our southern border,” he said.
The president introduced National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd, who served as a Border Patrol agent for 21 years. He stressed how important physical barriers are on the border.
“I can personally tell you, from the work that I have done on the southwest border, that physical barriers, that walls actually work,” Judd said. “You hear a lot of talk that there are experts that say that walls don’t work. I promise you that if you interview Border Patrol agents, they will tell you that walls work.
“I worked in Naco, Arizona, for 10 years. We didn’t have physical barriers in Naco, and illegal immigration and drug smuggling was absolutely out of control. We built those walls, those physical barriers, and illegal immigration dropped exponentially. Anywhere that you look, where we have built walls, they have worked. They have been an absolute necessity for Border Patrol agents in securing the border,” he said.
“We need those physical barriers, and we appreciate President Trump and all of his efforts in getting us those physical barriers. There's also a lot of talk on this shutdown, that federal employees do not agree with the shutdown. I will tell you that's not true,” Judd said.
Art Del Cueto, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, also a longtime Border Patrol agent out of the Tucson Sector, said he and his colleagues are all affected by the shutdown and they fully support the president and all his efforts to secure the nation’s borders.
“We have skin in the game. However, it comes down to border security, and we are extremely grateful to President Trump, and we fully support what he is doing to take care of our nation's borders, to take care of the future of this United States. It has nothing to do with political parties,” he said.
Cueto said, “You all got to ask yourself this question: If I come to your home, do you want me to knock on the front door, or do you want me to climb through that window?”
Hector Garza, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, who is also a Border Patrol agent on the Texas border, thanked Trump for advocating for Border Patrol agents and called on Congress to fund border security and the wall.
“I just want to talk about some of those criminals that Border Patrol agents apprehend on a daily basis. We're talking about murderers, rapists, people that commit very serious crimes in this country. ICE has been doing an amazing job in deporting a lot of these people back to their countries,” Garza said.
“Unfortunately, once we deport these people, these people will not stay in their country. These criminal aliens that have been released from jail, that have been deported, will come right back into the United States. However, if we had a physical barrier, if we had a wall, we would be able to stop that,” he said.
Trump said this meeting with Border Patrol and ICE officials “was set up a long time ago,” but it came at a very opportune time.”
“And I thought -- we were all sitting in the Oval Office, working on different plans and different ways of stopping the problems that we have in our country, and other countries have problems, but nobody like ours. The economy makes it even more so. The economy is bringing people in because we're doing so well with the economy,” he said, citing unemployment currently at 3.7 percent, “among the lowest we've ever had.”
“So I just appreciate them being here. I said, let's go out, see the press. You can tell them about the importance of the wall,” the president said. He said ICE and Border Patrol officials said, “Without a wall, you cannot have border security. Without a very strong form of barrier -- call it what you will -- but without a wall, you cannot have border security. It won't work.”
“You see what's just been put out on social media, where thousands of people are rushing the border,” Trump said. He said using drones and “various other form of sensors,” won’t stop the problems that this country has with illegal immigration.
“We've never had more people wanting to come to the United States, and that has to do with the economy and it has to do with a lot of other things. We're doing great as a country, but the better we do, the more people want to come in,” the president concluded.