Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says her department is on track to interdict 100,000 migrants crossing the U.S. border with Mexico in March.
“There is no manufactured crisis on our southern border; there is a real-life humanitarian and security catastrophe,” Nielsen said Monday during remarks at Auburn University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security.
The secretary related that late last year, DHS was apprehending 50,000 to 60,000 migrants per month. Last month, that number jumped to over 75,000, which was the highest total for a February in over a decade.
“Today I can tell you that we are on track to interdict nearly 100,000 migrants this month alone,” Nielsen said.
— GOP (@GOP) March 18, 2019
“The situation at our southern border has gone from a crisis to a national emergency to a near-systemwide meltdown,” she said. “I say this with the utmost sincerity and urgency: The system is breaking.”
Nielsen went on to explain the nature of those crossing the border in recent years has changed.
In the early 2000s, those who entered the U.S. illegally were predominantly single men from Mexico, who could be detained and returned across the border within 48 hours in most cases.
But now smugglers and traffickers have caught on that children and families create a “free ticket” into the U.S.
“The flow of families and children has become a flood,” Nielsen said, with some kids being caught in the middle as pawns, as they are recycled multiple times to facilitate people getting across the border.
The secretary said what usually when family groups are detained is they are ultimately released into the U.S. to await asylum trial dates.
“And we have virtually no hope of removing them in the future, despite the fact that the vast majority who apply for asylum today do not qualify for it under our laws,” Nielsen said.
Her remarks came days after President Donald Trump issued his first veto, in response to a congressional resolution (H.J. Res. 46) seeking to block his border security emergency declaration.
President Trump has signed a VETO of the resolution by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to block the national emergency declaration for our crisis on the southern border. pic.twitter.com/2d76DSfp1Y
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 16, 2019
“My highest obligation as President is to protect the Nation and its people,” Trump’s official veto message said. “Every day, the crisis on our border is deepening, and with new surges of migrants expected in the coming months, we are straining our border enforcement personnel and resources to the breaking point.
“H.J. Res. 46 ignores these realities. It is a dangerous resolution that would undermine United States sovereignty and threaten the lives and safety of countless Americans. It is, therefore, my duty to return it to the House of Representatives without my approval.”
The Democrat-controlled House is not expected to have the required two-thirds vote of its members (approximately 290) needed to override Trump’s veto.
The resolution of disapproval passed the House by a tally of 245-182 last month in a vote mostly along party lines.
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