Texas Democratic Congressmen Rubén Hinojosa and Beto O’Rourke are pushing back against efforts to further secure the U.S.-Mexico border, arguing that more migrants would die while illegally crossing the border into America.
“They come here to work hard and they come here to be reunited with their families. The sad truth is that many do not make it to accomplish any of those joyful things that I just described. Many of them lose their lives in the dry cactus and mesquite-filled lands of south Texas where I come from, the area that I represent,” said Hinojosa, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, at a Capitol Hill press conference.
“How many more must die alone on U.S. soil before this country realizes that our immigration system needs an overhaul? We need an immigration reform bill that allows families to be together. We need an immigration reform bill that allows a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants from over 100 countries who call the United States their home. We need a more compassionate and fair approach to those who want to call the United States their home.”
O’Rourke said he opposes the Corker-Hoeven amendment security measures in the Senate immigration bill because they would “further militarize” the border. The bill provides $46 billion in additional funding for a wall and adds 20,000 Border Patrol agents.
In congressional negotiations over immigration reform in the Senate, some Republicans agreed to support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants if border security measures were implemented first.
The Senate immigration bill passed in June. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said the House would not consider the Senate bill but take its own step-by-step approach on immigration reform.
“You have more people dying than ever and fewer people crossing than ever. It’s very reasonable to assume that if we build more walls, further militarize the border, we’re going to push those few remaining migrants who chose to cross into the U.S. into more treacherous, inhospitable and deadly territory. We will definitely see more death and suffering with something like Corker-Hoeven,” said O’Rourke.
According to the Department of Justice, Mexican drug cartels “control access” to the southwest border, which is “the primary gateway for moving the bulk of illicit drugs into the United States.”
DOJ has also reported that Mexican drug cartels are currently operating in more than 1,000 U.S. cities. PJ Media asked Hinojosa why he opposes increased border security given the challenges many American cities face with drugs and gang violence.
“I’ve been here 17 years in Congress and we had that problem coming from Colombia and the Caribbean islands and Caribbean territories and we put lots of effort and they stopped going through there. They went to other parts of the United States. They tried it on the Pacific side through California, we plugged that up and then they moved down to south Texas and so they keep moving and it’s been a problem that we have had now for over 20 years,” he responded.
“I believe that there is a general concern by members of Congress and the Senate to put a stop to that but what are we, the United States Americans, doing to curb the appetite for the demand for drugs? That is the problem. In my opinion, we in the United States are going to have to do something to do away with that huge appetite for drugs.”
O’Rourke agrees with Hinojosa and argues that more border security is not going to stop the spread of drugs.
“It is our citizens who are demanding and consuming the drugs that’s created the draw that many of cartels and criminal enterprises, U.S. and Mexican, are responding to,” he told PJ Media.
“Again, I just don’t think we can continue to do the same thing and expect a different result. More walls, more border patrol, more militarization, more money is more of the same.”
O’Rourke was asked for his response to critics who say migrants should not put themselves in harm’s way by illegally crossing the border into America from Mexico.
“I don’t know how anyone or any argument can justify the death of 10,000 people in a city that I live next to that was until recently the deadliest city in the world bar none because it is a major transit point in supplying the largest drug market in world and because of the prohibitionary policies we have here that place such a premium on these drugs that people are literally willing to die or kill others to get the drugs across,” he said, referencing the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez, near El Paso, Texas.
“You have hundreds of thousands of young people who have neither access to schools or access to work and in that vacuum I think it’s easier to be a little bit more sympathetic about some of the choices that these young people make.”