House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she and fellow Democrats have not denied there is a crisis at the southern border during a news conference on Thursday, though earlier this year she and her congressional colleagues did just that.
A reporter asked the speaker: “(F)or a number of months the Democrats have been saying that the issue over at the border was simply a manufactured crisis. Are the Democrats willing to say now that there is an actual crisis at the border?”
Pelosi responded, “Well, let me just say this. We have never not said that there was a crisis. There is a humanitarian crisis at the border, and some of it provoked by the actions taken by the administration.”
“It’s really sad,” she later said, referencing the Trump administration’s short-lived child separation policy, which the president ended by executive order last June.
Pelosi also characterized what is happening as “tragic” and she said she hopes to approve funding to help handle the mass influx of migrants.
“And we understand our responsibility to secure our border,” she said. “But the manner in which the administration has gone forward undermines our humanitarianism as a country. We will hopefully work together in a bipartisan way to address this.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that Democrats never denied there is a crisis at the border, but instead shifts the blame to President Trump. pic.twitter.com/8yFrUuNAem
— Fox & Friends First (@FoxFriendsFirst) May 17, 2019
In January, Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and their fellow Democrats opposed President Donald Trump’s efforts to obtain additional funding to secure the border.
Democrats also accused him of falsely claiming there was a crisis at the border in order to declare a national emergency to obtain additional border wall funding.
“President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis,” Pelosi said in January in response to Trump’s first televised address from the Oval Office, during which he made the case for additional funding for border wall construction.
Schumer reiterated the point, saying, “President Trump just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis.”
In February, Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom called the border situation a “manufactured crisis,” while Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said it was a “fake” one.
On Wednesday, former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said what is happening at the border is a “crisis.”
“We had 100,000 apprehensions in the month of March and another 100,000 in the month of April. That’s the highest it’s been in 12 years,” Johnson told Fox News host Neil Cavuto.
Johnson blamed the crisis in large part on the 1997 Flores decision.
Under the 1997 Flores v. Reno settlement, federal authorities may only detain unaccompanied migrant children for 20 days, then they must be released to parents, adult relatives or sanctioned programs.
In 2015, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee, an Obama appointee, ruled that the Flores requirements apply to both unaccompanied minors and children apprehended with their parents. This update makes deporting families with children seeking asylum virtually impossible.
“The Flores decision has not helped frankly,” Johnson said. “That was a decision reached by a federal district court in Los Angeles in 2015. I was opposed to it then. I’m opposed to it now.”
Border Patrol’s apprehension numbers are off the charts. Nearly 520,000 people have been apprehended on the SW border this FY. In the past 7 days, agents have averaged 4,500+ arrests per day. USBP has already surpassed the TOTAL SW border apprehensions of every FY since 2009. pic.twitter.com/HNjgwOqKHY
— CBP (@CBP) May 15, 2019
Carla Provost, the current chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, shares Johnson’s assessment.
Asked by CNN’s Jim Sciutto on Wednesday what the cause was of the surging number of migrants at the border, Provost answered, “I can tell you it’s slowly been progressing. Ever since families have heard the word if you bring a child, you will be released. They’re talking to their family members. Smugglers are encouraging them.”
Weaknesses in our legal framework have created an unacceptable “pull factor” inflaming the crisis on our southern border. The migrants in our custody have told us they are encouraged to bring a child on the journey so that they will be released.
— USBPChief (@USBPChief) May 15, 2019
In a speech from the Rose Garden on Thursday, Trump called for a change to the nation’s asylum law to address the “pull factor,” which Provost said is drawing tens of thousands of migrants to the U.S. border on a monthly basis.
“We must also restore the integrity of our broken asylum system,” Trump said.
“Our nation has a proud history of affording protection to those fleeing government persecutions. Unfortunately, legitimate asylum seekers are being displaced by those lodging frivolous claims — these are frivolous claims — to gain admission into our country.”
“My plan expedites relief for legitimate asylum seekers by screening out the meritless claims,” he added. “If you have a proper claim, you will quickly be admitted; if you don’t, you will promptly be returned home.”
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