Rep. Escobar's View of Border Security: 'This Isn't About Border Security'

By Susan Jones | July 17, 2019 | 10:49am EDT
Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) says the only crisis at the border is a humanitarian one. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

( - "There's nobody in the country who more wants a safe and secure border community than those of us who live there," Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday. Escobar lives in the border community of El Paso.

"So what's your plan to strengthen border enforcement?" contributor Mike Barnicle asked the congresswoman:

"Here's the challenge with looking at it through that lens," Escobar replied.


We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on border enforcement. My community has a wall. It's had a wall for a decade. My community's been safe for two decades. Communities all along the U.S./Mexico border are safer than most communities in the interior of the country. This isn't about border security. We have more agents than ever before, more walls than ever before, more drones, you name it, we've got it on the border.

This is about how we're treating asylum-seekers who are arriving at our front door. We're treating them as a national security threat. I want our agents to go after the folks who are trying to do us harm. But as a country, we've got to separate that group from the families, the women, the children, who are seeking refuge and asylum. They are not a national security threat.

The Border Patrol agency is so overwhelmed by the flood of asylum-seekers, many from Central America, that it is increasingly difficult for agents to find and detain would-be harm-doers or anyone else entering the country illegally.

The jammed CBP holding facilities "were never designed for kids," Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

But it's children and families who are clogging the system, using asylum claims, many of them not valid, as a way to enter the country and stay here on a promise to appear for an immigration hearing.

"We need a legislative fix," Morgan said on Sunday. "We need Congress to act right now. Senator Lindsey Graham has a bill that he's trying to push forward right now that would absolutely overnight help eliminate what you saw when we went down there with the vice president. Congress needs to act. They know it."

This week, the Trump administration rolled out a new rule -- immediately challenged in court -- that would require people to apply for asylum in the first country they reach outside of their own. That rule would virtually stop Central Americans from getting asylum here, since they pass through Mexico and maybe other Central American nations first.

President Trump entered office with a demand for immigration reform and border security. He wants to end chain migration, eliminate the Visa Lottery, and move the country to a merit-based entry system, but many congressional Democrats oppose legislation that would bar hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers who are coming here for economic and other personal reasons.

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