The Democratic mayor of a major Texas border city criticized his own party over the border crisis in recent comments in which he also defended former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
Amid months of crimes, health scares and other issues plaguing border communities in Texas, Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz, a Democrat, said that immigration policy was working well before President Joe Biden took office.
In a conversation with The Washington Free Beacon published on Thursday, the mayor took a swipe at the Biden administration for bogging down his city’s services and resources.
”We need to truly secure the border,” said Saenz, who was been mayor of the city since 2014. “It was working under Trump, call it whatever you want to call it, but it was working.”
When speaking of the White House $3.5 trillion, 10-year budget proposal in relation to what he said the country needs right now, Saenz called for more funding to secure the border — and not an expansion of federal government welfare programs.
“We’re spending billions of dollars on alternative things but immigration isn’t given priority,” he complained to the Beacon. “Border Patrol isn’t being funded to the extent that Border Patrol has to be funded.”
“Their workload has increased to three times or four, and yet they’re not funded. So, that kind of leads me to think the Democrats have the same mentality [toward the Border Patrol] as defunding law enforcement generally,” he also said.
The mayor then called for federal officials to completely re-think their approach to handling cases in which a person claims to be in need of asylum. He told The Beacon that as for now, migrants are giving everything they have to drug cartels, and the end result is an overloaded system which is not only harming American citizens, but also migrants who are being taken advantage of.
“The key, ultimately, is removing the incentive to come to the border and file for asylum. I believe in the asylum process. It needs to be followed or changed,” he said. “If we don’t like the way people are attempting to come, we can have them apply remotely or from either the country of origin or some other place that is close to the country of origin.”
“No person wants to spend their last penny giving it to the cartels, then risking life and limb travel to try and get all the way to the border. And then there’s still the uncertainty that they may not even be granted asylum. At some point, they’ll be fugitives,” Saenz said.
The Beacon noted that Saenz was previously in opposition to Trump with regard to putting up a physical barrier in Laredo, although he is evaluating his stance on the issue.
He told the outlet he was in favor of a Biden-proposed so-called “virtual wall,” which is something that at this point has not come to fruition.
“If Biden doesn’t come out with implementing a virtual wall, people here will be begging for a wall, a physical structure, simply because of his lack of attention to the border and especially the size of these surges,” he told the outlet.
Saenz said a wall would “deter or at least buy time, so to speak, for law enforcement.”
“The border’s not secure and hasn’t been for a while,” he added. “We can’t continue this way, and I really haven’t seen any measures yet from Washington to remedy this.”
The Democrat said he feels that the border crisis is something that could be handled, but to the detriment of his city’s residents, and the country as a whole, isn’t being done.
“It’s really an embarrassment for us as a country now. You know we can do so much better,” said Saenz.
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