Roe tours border, says officers support wall

Hank Hayes • Aug 16, 2018 at 8:35 AM

U.S. Border Patrol agents want President Trump’s proposed border wall to happen, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe said in a Wednesday conference call with reporters.

“They are very, very supportive of a barrier, a physical barrier wall,” Roe said of his talks with the officers. “The reason they were is it slowed the people down. … It gave them time to respond. … They have a fence there but want to replace it with a better barrier.”

Roe, R-Tenn., said he went to the U.S.-Mexico border near El Paso last week because he was disturbed by the behavior of people who disrupted his June campaign kickoff “based on limited information about what was going on at the border.”

Border Patrol agents use all-terrain vehicles, horses, radar and ground sensors, but drugs and people still come across illegally, Roe said.

“Ninety percent of the people who come in illegally are from Central America … not good places to be apparently right now,” Roe told reporters. “(Border Patrol agents) got overwhelmed by several hundred young people coming in at the border. … That is a strategy the cartels use. … That’s when they sneak the drugs across.”

But just last week, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) press secretary Tyler Q. Houlton said southwest border migration numbers dropped in July for the second month in a row.

“In the month of July, we saw a decrease in illegal border crossings because human traffickers and transnational criminal organizations were put on notice that this administration was increasing prosecutions of those entering the country illegally,” Houlton said. “Despite our terribly broken immigration laws, the administration has still been able to impact illegal immigration — but we need Congress to act to fix our system.”

Roe said that east of El Paso, he saw an air-conditioned “tent city” — run by a not-for-profit organization — that housed 170 teenage boys and had a medical clinic, catered food and a soccer field with artificial turf.

That operation, Roe disclosed, is costing taxpayers between $400,000 and $500,000 a day.

“I was upset when I left, and I was upset because of the way it made these (Border Patrol agents and caregivers) appear,” Roe said. “It made them appear as uncaring and indifferent. … These folks took the very best care of these children that they could.

“They need more agents (Roe said there are 20,000 total for all borders), and everyone I talked to wanted a wall … At night, 30, 40, 50 men would line up on the other side of the Rio Grande River, and they knew that there were only a certain number of Border Patrol agents, and they would charge and run across the river.”

Roe also addressed these questions:

Where does Congress go from here on border security?

“We need to protect our southern border — period. They need more assets down there. We had an immigration bill that got 193 votes. It provided funding for a wall. … Some people want open borders and don’t want a sovereign country, but we cannot do that. … We need to go ahead and get that done. … The agents told me Juárez is the fifth most dangerous city in the world. … When they get that barrier up, that violence is not spilling over into El Paso, which is a relatively safe big city.”

Would this wall just be on the Texas-Mexico border?

“That physical barrier needs to be moved west and there needs to be an entire southern border.”

How do you and members of Congress deal with the emotional response that happened when the public was informed that families were being separated at the border?

“This is what the agents are dealing with. Number one, is this your parent? What they found out was many of them are not. … They use that to get into the country. … I agree with you that it’s not a good visual … but these (agents) have a responsibility (and find out) are these people who they say they are? … If you can determine these are family members, there’s no need to separate them, you can keep them together.”