WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, as presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump has proposed, would not stop illegal drugs from entering the United States.
Reid called on the House to act on the Senate-passed Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, which provides $600 million to address the current opioid epidemic.
Trump has argued that a tall border wall would stem the flow of drugs into the U.S. through Mexico.
“We’ve been through this debate for many, many years. Immigration through Mexico is down. It’s not up, it’s down. In fact, it’s at some of the lowest levels in a long, long time,” Reid told PJM during a conference call about Trump becoming the presumptive GOP nominee. “So we’ve built walls. I’ve thought it’s wrong. I’ve opposed it every time but we have hundreds of miles of walls already.”
Reid said illegal immigrants simply have to build a “ladder” tall enough to climb over the wall.
“So that’s foolishness, and to think that this man gets away with saying we’re going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for that. I’m not sure that makes any sense whatsoever,” Reid said. “We have drones flying over the border now. We have helicopters. We have fancy electronics and it’s done quite well. The people that are so anti-immigration are fixed on something that doesn’t exist anymore.”
Reid said Democrats want the House to pass the Senate’s bill to help treat the opioid crisis. He pointed out that heroin is the cheapest it has been in decades.
“I don’t want to jump the gun, but it appears even the great Prince was involved with opioid and that’s such a shame. People are dying as we speak,” he said. “There’s a desperate need to do something for these people to get them off of these opioids.”
Reid argued that there are more important illegal immigration issues to address such as the minors “being driven out” of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to the U.S.-Mexico border.
“A lot of progress is being made to stop some of that, but we have a long ways to go,” he said.
The amount of minors illegally crossing the 2,000-mile long southwest border is already higher than last summer’s rate. The Washington Times reported that President Obama has requested $17,613 for each of the estimated 75,000 Central American teenagers expected to illegally cross into the U.S. this year, which is $2,841 more than the average annual Social Security retirement benefit.
If undocumented minors are caught by U.S. immigration enforcement, the federal government places them with an adult, often a relative living in the country, and officials do not check the person’s immigration status.
“Federal law requires that ORR feed, shelter, and provide medical care for unaccompanied children until it is able to release them to safe settings with sponsors (usually family members), while they await immigration proceedings. These sponsors live in many states,” the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement states.
“Sponsors are adults who are suitable to provide for the child’s physical and mental well-being and have not engaged in any activity that would indicate a potential risk to the child. All sponsors must pass a background check. The sponsor must agree to ensure the child’s presence at all future immigration proceedings,” according to the website.