tv U.S. Senate Re-air K Sen. Cornyn R-TX on Mexico Tariffs CSPAN June 6, 2019 6:00am-6:20am EDT
the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. cornyn: mr. president, since president trump announced his intent to impose tariffs on goods imported to the united states from mexico, i've been perplexed at the reaction from our democratic colleagues on both sides of the capitol. they seem to have washed their hands on the humanitarian crisis occurring at the border. again, these are president obama's words in 2014. he identified this crush of humanity coming across from central america into the united states, claiming asylum, as a humanitarian and security
crisis. but our democratic friends are simply washing their hands of any responsibility and have not offered any solutions, any ideas on how to solve the problem. perhaps they feel like this is president trump's problem, but this is more than just the president's problem. it's america's problem and challenge. how do we deal with this flood of humanity? i'd like to be clear on one point. i agree with the president that mexico needs to do more to staunch the flow of people that cross its borders into the united states. they must do more, and we must do more to stop this mass migration. but any action must prioritize both our country's physical and our economic security. tariffs are not my first choice on how to address this problem. in fact, that is not the most responsible way to address this.
the most responsible way to address it is by taking up, debating, and voting on bipartisan legislation that would actually fix the vulnerabilities in our current law that are be exploited by the human smugglers that are charging between $5,000 and $10,000 per person to smuggle people from central america across mexico into the united states. tariffs, on the other hand, would be a massive tax. the u.s. chamber estimates that texas alone would face $5.35 billion in increased costs as a result of a 5% tariff that could take effect as early as monday. this translates into about $is,000 more on a car -- $1,000 more on a car. i'm happy that the vice president and secretary pompeo are meeting with the mexican foreign minister and other officials today. actually, i'm encouraged by the response of the mexican government, and i can only hope they come up with some sort of
agreement so these tariffs do not go into effect. stronger action by mexico would be a step in the right direction, but it doesn't come close to solving the underlying problem. i feel like a broken record at times, constantly reminding my colleagues here of the challenges we're facing in texas because of this crisis. more than 100,000 people he will liely crowed our -- illegally crossed our southern border between march and april, 100,000. that's not a combined figure. it's about 100,000 each month. the department of homeland security has not released statistics for the month of may, but i am not expecting any good news. as a matter of fact, there is -- if nothing changes, the pull factor, the reasons why people would leave their home in central america, cross mexico into this dangerous trip to the united states are getting worse, encouraging more and more people to take that dangerous trip. unlike in previous years the
vast majority of those crossing aren't from mexico, as i said. so far this fiscal year 74% of the border patrol's apprehensions that cross the southern border were people coming from guatemala, honduras, and el salvador. and if you talk to the mcallen sector border patrol chief, he will tell you that last year alone, people from 140 different countries -- 140 different countries -- came across our southern border with mexico into the united states. that's because they realize, if you can fly or get any way you can -- take a boat, swim, get to central america -- you can make your way up from central america into the united states. the individuals illegally entering our country are whoamplegly either families -- overwhelmingly either families or unaccompanied children which means we don't have the facilities, resources or legal authorities we need to
expeditiously process them and care for them properly. what's more, 70% of the unaccompanied children and families apprehensions are occurring in just two sectors, el paso and the rio grande valley, making the state of texas and its border communities the hardest hit. we are ground zero for this crisis. as i said, this is equated into an all-out humanitarian crisis along the border. our law enforcement officials, city leaders, nongovernmental organizations, everyone that's that's, wants to treat these migrants compassionately and appropriately, they're being completely overwhelmed by the massive waves of people who are entering the country. we need to get to work on both short-term and long-term solutions. first, we need to get additional funding to the departments and agencies that are trying to manage this crisis and care for the migrants in their custody.
without action here in congress, funding could dry up by the end of this month, creating an even more dire situation. that should be our most immediate focus, getting funding to the agencies responsible for managing this crisis. i know the appropriators are working on this, and i hope we can come up with a solution soon because time is not on our side. but that's not a fix. that's a patch. any sort of lasting change cannot be solved by a funding bill or by tariffs. it has to be solved by something only congress can do, by passing legislation that addresses the root of the problem. from what i know, there's only one bill that would address this humanitarian crisis at the border and a bill that already has republican and democrat support, and that's a bill i introduced called the humane
act. i've learned a lot when it comes to legislating on immigration issues. a lot of folks are more interested in talking about it than they are interested in finding a solution. but that wasn't the case when i picked up the phone and called my friend henry cuellar, a democrat from laredo, texas. obviously i'm a republican. henry's a democrat from the house, but he understands this situation better than most and he's been my consistent ally working on a number of ways to bring commonsense reform to these issues. we don't always agree on everything, but we do agree on some things. and where we do agree, we work together to try to provide effective solutions. as i mentioned, we've introduced the humane act last month that will make targeted long overdue reforms to our immigration system. importantly, it includes provisions that both republicans and democrats should be able to agree on. first, it closes a major
loophole that's often exploited by families and the human smugglers who move them across the border illegally. this is the flores settlement agreement. this is a lawsuit and settlement. flawed court rulings have looked at the flores settlement, have turned this once well-intentioned agreement into a major pull factor for migrants hoping to game the system. they know we can't detain children and family units for more than 20 days and they're using it against us to game the system, to win, to successfully place people in the united states because we simply don't have the authority to detain them until they can present their claims to an immigration judge. rather than single adults arriving at the border alone, we know that the smugglers are sending children, sometimes unaccompanied, sometimes posing as a family unit when they're not even biologically related.
so much that the department of homeland security has now been giving d.n.a. testing to determine whether an adult is falsely claiming a child to be their biological offspring so that they can make their way into the country exploiting these gaps and loopholes that i've talked about. children are literally being kidnapped to serve as a free ticket into the united states, tragically they're often abused physically or sexually along the way and many arrive at our border in critical health. i've shared the concern expressed by members of congress on both sides of the aisle when we've seen children die in some of our facilities along the border, but that's not because they got sick there in the first place. they got ill on the way coming from central america across mexico into the united states, suffering from exposure, being
exposed to all sorts of infectious diseases, and by the time they get into u.s. custody some of them simply don't survive, and that's a terrible human tragedy. but the problem is not trying to create more medical facilities at the border. it should be to try to stop people from making this dangerous trek in the first place. so the humane act would stop that practice by clarifying that the flores agreement only applies to unaccompanied children, which was the original agreement. not family units as it was subsequently interpreted by another court. it will provide more time for processing an immigration proceeding to take place before families can be released from custody. under the current practice, because the numbers are overwhelming, the capacity of the immigration courts to hear these cases -- and there's simply not enough time to get to those cases when you have to release them in 20 days, they're given a notice to appear
for a future court date. and guess what? the vast majority of them simply don't show up for that court hearing, and they remain in the united states perhaps for the rest of their lives unless perhaps they get picked up for an unrelated crime. our legislation would require that all accompanied children be processed exactly the same regardless of their country of origin. under current law children from mexico and canada can be promptly returned home, but the processes for other countries move much more slowly and represent another vulnerability in our legal authorities. i believe we should make every effort to safely return all children to their home countries as soon as possible regardless of what country they're from. this bill includes other provisions to protect children who have been brought to our border such as biometric screening to ensure that they
are literally the biological offspring of the people who claim to be their parents rather than a human trafficker. it would also place prohibitions on certain individuals who would serve as guardians. for example, no child should be released into the custody of a sex offender or human trafficker. we don't have that confidence now. third, the humane act would enable families to stay together. there's been a lot of discussion about the separation of children from their families. we want them to stay together. i think we all agree that that should be the standard. but we also need to streamline the processing of those in custody. consistent with the recommendations from the bipartisan department of homeland security advisory committee, the bill would require the department of homeland security to establish at least four regional processing centers along the southern border to house and process these families. they would literally serve as a
one-stop shop. the department of homeland security personnel, folks from customs and border protection, i.c.e., immigration and customs enforcement, the immigration service and fema all working together to assist migrants and working to process their claims in a timely and respectful sort of basis. asylum officers would also be required on site to adjudicate claims as soon as they could and expedite the entire process, which we hope would begin to ease the burden of our current deblilitating immigration court backlog. i believe if we actually did this that people with legitimate claims would find their claims recognized earlier and people with illegitimate claims would be returned to their country of origin, which is the way our laws should be enforced. it's important to recognize that
it's not only -- we should not only enforce our immigration laws as long as they're on the books, we ought to use the time-honored principle of deterrence. in other words, if people realize they're paying good money to try to make their way into the united states in the hands of a human smuggler, but because of the way we have corrected and reformed our laws it's no longer possible to exploit the vulnerabilities of the system, fewer and fewer of them will actually start that trek, that dangerous trek from their home in central america. so deterrence is something we need to use on our side, and right now there is no deterrence because the smugglers know this is a money-making machine for them. they care nothing about the people involved. they're commodityty agnostic. they'll as soon traffic someone in sex for economic reasons or
move drugs from across the border into the united states. so we need to deter all sorts of criminal activity like that. in addition to these changes, the legislation also includes other provisions that i think are just commonsense improvements like additional customs and border protection personnel and l training for c.v.p. and i.c.e. employees who work with children. one last point on the, what's happening at the border and its impact on the economy and trade. in laredo, texas, alone, i think it just surpassed los angeles as the largest port of entry into the united states. there are between 14,000 and 16,000 trucks a day that traverse the u.s.-mexico border. and a lot of that is part of the manufacturing, the manufacturing process which happens on both sides of the border. but when these trucks can't make their way across the border on a
timely basis, then that means the parts -- the manufacturing process fall apart and -- in the border economies. i would argue the larger economy in the united states is threatened when just in time inventory control no longer works. so if you're living in detroit, michigan, and you're expecting the delivery of a part coming from mexico will make its way to michigan in time to build a car, you can't do it, and eventually this is going to damage our economy and kill jobs. so i'd like to reiterate in conclusion, mr. president, the humane act is bipartisan, it's bicameral, and it would provide real relief for folks in texas and other border states who are struggling to manage the crisis. and most importantly, it would be a much more humane way to treat these children and families who are flooding across our southern border. i know most of our congressional
democratic friends have adopted the posture of reflexively standing against the president on anything and everything that he asks for rather than standing for policies that would actually become the law and make the situation better. mr. president, i think this is a much better solution than tariffs on mexican goods brought into the united states. the president's team has negotiated the u.s.-canada-mexico agreement, the usmca, and i'm hopeful we can get that passed here in the congress once it's sent over from the administration. but i worry not only are these tariffs that are being placed potentially on goods brought in the united states going to hurt our booming economy and jobs here, it also is going to jeopardize the passage of the usmca, the successor to nafta, which i think we should all acknowledge is a big positive development for the
administration. and why would we jeopardize passage of the usmca? why would we hurt our economy while trying to punish mexico for not doing more, which they should do to stop the illegal passage of people across their country when there is a reasonable and responsible alternative? so i would urge all my colleagues to take a serious look at the humane act so we can finally do our part that only we in congress can do to stem the flow of central american migrants who are flooding our borders and prevent criminals and human smugglers from >> washington journal continues.
host: grover norquist is back at our desk, president of americans for tax reform, a group known for its taxpayer protection pledge. do you consider tariffs a form of tax? almost 100 years, tariffs were the taxes we had in the united states. in the 1830's in south carolina, afore slavery became defining issue, they called out the national militia over tariffs. they had a national convention to look at everything in the 1830's because of the tariff fight. so tariffs our taxes, and the challenge with terrorists i