Katie Waldman, Assistant Press Secretary for The Department Of Homeland Security, spoke with Brian Kilmeade about the caravan of migrants making their way to the U.S. border. Waldman says while we are seeing a decrease of apprehensions at the border we are also seeing a change in the demographics as 56% of those crossing the border are from Central America who cannot be repatriated the same way as Mexicans because of how U.S. law treats Mexicans differently than those from Central America.
(Audio of John Berman CNN) [00:00:00] I want to make is if you look at this chart and refined to have this building I see it bigger but look at all this effort this is 2000 this is how many illegal border crossings there were in the year 2000. Down here is roughly now. So you are still at historic lows in terms of the numbers of people crossing the border. It's just now they're coming more as families is up a little bit from last year but it's still way lower agreed that it was a storm.
(Brian Kilmeade) [00:00:26] Is that true. That's what they were saying on CNN today that the border crossings are at historic low and decreased since 2000. Joining us now is someone who would know because she deals with it on a daily basis. She's the Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Katy Waldman. Katie welcome back.
(Katie Waldman) [00:00:44] Thanks for having me on.
(Kilmeade) So was CNN telling the truth ?
(Waldman) [00:00:49] We are definitely seeing a decrease in apprehensions from 2000 to 2018 but that's only telling one side of the story. You know we're building and from 2000 to now we are building a wall. We've had new walls up. We have hired more agents. But what we're seeing is a change in demographics and the laws that have existed since 2000 back in 2000 98 percent of our apprehensions were from Mexicans were Mexicans and we are able to quickly repatriate them and send them back to Mexico. Within hours today of those 400000. Fifty six percent are Central Americans. Those are people we cannot return and now many 56 56 percent right now are Central Americans. And we cannot repatriate them the same way we can Mexicans. US law treats Mexicans differently than it treats Central Americans.
(Kilmeade) [00:01:39] That is strange and I think very few people know that what happened that made the error that they had made politicians think that Central and South Americans were more important than Mexicans.
(Waldman) [00:01:51] It's a 2008 law written by Dianne Feinstein that treated Canada Canada and Mexico different than it treated Central Americans because back in 2008 most of our apprehensions were all Mexican. Now they're all predominantly Central Americans. It's a shocking stat when you look at it the hundred thousand family units apprehended last year from El Salvador Guatemala and Honduras. Nearly 99 percent of them remain in the country today. So what that says is all pretty much those 400,000 apprehensions. We cannot repatriate them there once they enter put a toe in the United States. We cannot just send them right back.
(Kilmeade) [00:02:29] See the theory is with the President, now as President catch and release is over and catch and go home is in what's stopping that. In actual law to overturn the 2008 law
(Waldman) [00:02:36] We need Congress to act and close these loopholes. The other one is for a settlement agreement which says the Clinton era law arson narrow settlement decree that says that we can't detain family units longer than 20 days. What DHS wants is the ability to detain and remove those we apprehend. Our goal is repatriation. Our goal is not detention. We want to be able to detain or the pendency of an immigration proceeding which if you're a single adult right now from you know Central America we can detain you for about 40 days and send you home. That's how long immigration proceedings take. But when we're forced to release because it takes longer than 20 days that turns into eight years. And that turns into you know then ice having to go apprehend in the communities and then remove. It's a much more arduous process and a much more lengthy journey which during that time they also apply for work permits and pretty much become part of our temporary but permanent population.
(Kilmeade) [00:03:38] What does this say to people who are doing it right who get a green card pay the fees. Live up to the standards do the paperwork. That line needs to be reformed and that process needs to be sped up I get it. But what message is that to two people that are trying to do what the right way.
(Waldman) [00:03:52] You know we're also processing applications and increasing the rate at which you can become aU.S. citizen and a green card holder. We're actually looking at ways to reform our legal immigration system as well not just for merit based reforms but also be able to get to do it the right way to speed up that process so you can become a legal resident and become aU.S. citizen the right way but I think it's just a slap in the face to those who are doing it the right way and are following areU.S. immigration laws versus those who are openly flouting them in our faces.
(Kilmeade) [00:04:22] So the perception is that well this is the the president of the United States is blowing this out of proportion because it's a great it's a great topic and it's a great issue for him. Come the midterms. But you're saying on the ground when everyone's focus on these caravans you find it relatively aggravating because don't focus on the care and the care of it is just one issue you're dealing with that on the border on a daily basis and feel hopeless helpless right now you know we're seeing a caravan coming towards the United States of about 4000 people.
(Waldman) [00:04:53] Right that's what the news is reporting. We're apprehending about 2000 on the border each and every single day. That's where you know the men and women of CBP and border patrol are apprehending them but there's not much recourse they can do once they apprehend them we're forced to release because not only are detention centers filling up but then even if we do you know keep the family units in detention we can't do anything with them since 20 days is too short of a period to be able to adjudicate and removed from our country the best return is removal and we don't have that ability right now.
(Kilmeade) [00:05:22] Katie do you think the word is out on these loopholes in Central and South America.
(Waldman) [00:05:27] These smugglers and traffickers know our laws better than members of Congress. I mean it is the most shocking sight I've seen recently is that you know from 2016 to now more men are coming across the border with children than ever before. You know in 2016 it is about 6000 men came across the border with children. Today it's up to 16000 which says that people know that if they bring a child you will be released into the United States. And there's little or no chance for removal.
(Kilmeade) [00:05:57] So I wanted you to hear what David Tafuri said on Tucker the other night. He's a former President Obama's State Department official.
(Audio of David Tafuri on Tucker Carlson Tonight) [00:06:05] We're talking about illegal immigration and illegal immigration has gone down for Mexico. And it could go down for Honduras and Guatemala and other countries in Central America if we improve those economies. We only give a little bit of money so let's help improve those economies. So I think that's a really good point for our employees. And we need to pay more.
(Kilmeade) [00:06:25] So you heard Tucker sarcasm but that is the feeling that if we just gave these people more aid they'd stay home.
(Waldman) [00:06:32] You know the number one and number two reasons that Border Patrol is found when they interview folks at the border. To come to the United States. You know what's driving them. Number one is reunification. And number two is economic opportunity. That is not because they feel unsafe. That is not because the economy is not great. They really want to come to the United States. You know if you're truly seeking you know if you're fleeing persecution and you're fleeing no reason why you cannot remain in your home country. Why not stop in Mexico. But they don't stop in Mexico. They continue on to the United States. You know I was just at the border a couple of weeks ago had a chance when we apprehended a family unit. You asked why are you coming to the United States. I'd like to meet up with my brother who's living illegally in Richmond Virginia. Tha's what we are seeing.
(Kilmeade) [00:07:17] Wow. So Geronimo. Gutierrez is a he is Mexico's Ambassador to the United States. He was on our channel yesterday. I want you to hear what he said about the caravan. Cut 22.
(Audio of Gerónimo Gutiérrez on Special Report) [00:07:31] We have evidence that this caravan is also very much politically motivated. So we're not we obviously are sensitive to the humanitarian situation that we encounter and we're acting precisely. But we we have also made very clear that there is no legal ground on which Mexico can issue a permit by which people can just go through Mexico towards the United States.
(Kilmeade) [00:07:56] So but they do. They let them through and the caravan. Some have said has been sponsored by some enemies of our state. But on both those issues first off who put this caravan together.
(Waldman) [00:08:07] I mean this caravan is being put together by NGOs and others mainly for media attention. I mean as I just said we're seeing caravan size every day at the border. You know we've heard reports of these folks getting on buses and then getting off and walking for the cameras. You know they are getting a ton of media attention. And it is at least putting a spotlight on the loopholes the serious loopholes in U.S. immigration law that once again is you know at least being flash on everyone's TV screen to know just what a crisis it is at the border. Day in and day out.
(Kilmeade) [00:08:37] Can Mexico do more?
(Waldman) [00:08:40]You know Mexico is definitely taking steps to address a humanitarian issue. But yes, you know these Mexican cartels control the entireU.S. Mexico border. I feel comfortable saying that you know predominantly you have to pay a smuggler or trafficker about 5000 dollars is the going rate right now to get across the U.S. border. So they are they say2.5 billion dollar a year industry for these traffickers these smugglers these cartels to get people across the border illegally. That is happening in Mexico right now.
(Kilmeade) [00:09:12] You know we're speaking to you now Katie dealing with this on a regular basis. We have Katie Waldman here DHS spokesperson. So Dianne Feinstein is not only does she not regret the 2008 law that's pushing for Central and South Americans to come here and stay. She says if she if she gets her party gets in power does she plan on fixing the law or amping it up?
(Waldman) [00:09:34] You know I have to say that we really do need Congress to act and close these loopholes because if not if you just continue to see more of the same that is 400, 000 you know I just said that 100,000 people were apprehended at the border last year. They're all here today and continue to see this influx of family units an influx of unaccompanied alien children. Because if you keep screaming, WE'RE exempting you from the law we're exempting you from any consequence you're gonna continue to see people come in and it's up to Congress now to close those loopholes.
(Kilmeade) [00:10:04] Katie I just don't understand if if the Democrats see this happening it's not good it's not a good issue for them to let people think that people can flood our borders and get into our country. So why don't they want to fix this? I understand that they have this thing for the wall they don't want to give the president a victory. But why don't they want to fix the catch and release.
(Waldman) [00:10:25] This seems like common sense to me but maybe it's just a fundamental misunderstanding of the way U.S. law works. I mean to me it makes perfect sense that if you have a you know a crisis going on at the southern border you'd want to fix it but that's a great question for Dianne Feinstein
(Kilmeade) Which she says that she would like to even make it easier for people to come here illegally right?
(Waldman) I think so yeah.
(Kilmeade) [00:10:47] And do you feel as though this has been defined well in this in this political process in this election season.
(Waldman) [00:10:53] I think we need to add as much as you can and much as your listeners can really get out there and educate on what actually is happening at the border because it's not just 4000 people today it's 2000 people every single day and it's people we can't remove. And then it's ice going out you know into communities and putting themselves at risk. They strap a gun to their hip every day and go out there to keep our community safe keep drugs off the street. And it really is an effort an educational effort to help everyone understand what is happening at the border and why we really do need Congress tp step up.
(Kilmeade) [00:11:25] And three there were three Border Patrol assaults over the last five days. So the danger is real. And lastly for people listening for those who say whoa you know Katie Waldman and Brian Kilmeade they're talking they don't have big hearts these people have horrible lives and we should just give them a shot. How much of our tax dollars do you want to pay. There are people in this country who are worthy of help from the government. How can we possibly sustain our country if we have to pay for everybody to come here. It's just not sustainable. We will not be the beacon of hope and democracy because we're going to collapse from within. We're running on a annual basis a deficit of seven hundred and fifty billion dollars. How much more are we willing to spend for people from other countries. That's the question that has to be asked. Just tell me do we all have to work an extra day for people in other countries when there's people in this country that need so much?
(Waldman) [00:12:25] You know Brian we spent thirty three thousand dollars a year per unaccompanied Alien Child who's in this country. There's 13000 unaccompanied children. HHS custody right now. That money could be going towards Pell grants. That money can be going towards inner city schools. That money can be going towards Medicaid. So many things in our country and closing loopholes doesn't cost a dime of taxpayer dollars.
(Kilmeade) [00:12:53] It's frustrating I know for you. Especially when when people don't understand the issue and they make it personal and they're trying to go up in the polls when you're just trying to solve a problem. Katie Waldman thanks so much.
(Waldman) Thanks for having me on.