House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul on Sunday said the fault does not lie with the Trump administration over the past week's immigration crisis: It falls with members of Congress who have had the power to change the laws that created the situation.
"We can't seem to get this done," the Texas Republican told "Fox News Sunday." "That's why I've urged my colleagues [about] why it is so important, that national security is at stake."
Lawmakers have to pass legislation that addresses the immigration situation, McCaul warned, "or we will be seeing this scene play out over and over again. We had 30,000 kids [enter] in 2014. We're going to see the same thing this summer if we don't change it."
President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted a call for Republicans to stop "wasting their time" on immigration until after more party members are elected in the November midterm elections, but McCaul said Sunday he urges the president to continue supporting the "four pillars" idea, including a merit-based immigration system and providing for a rational DACA fix.
"I did talk to the White House yesterday," the congressman said. "They say the president is still 100 percent behind us. This is not the first time this has happened...Congress needs to act to close the legal loopholes that incentivize bringing these children into the United States, and if we don't do that we are going to see this scenario, this human tragedy play out over and over again."
Congress last week moved a moderate bill over to this week, and McCaul said he is optimistic there will be a solution.
"If we don't do this you are going to see more of these kids at the border," he said. "Let's not forget the dangerous journey they make."
McCaul said he learned that out of 12,000 children, 10,000 did not come to the United States with parents, but rather with a "coyote" taking them from Central America through Mexico and to the United States, "a very dangerous journey where they are abused and exploited."
Part of this issue is that immigrants coming from Central America are treated differently from Mexicans, who are immediately removed from the United States.
"We think if we could do that with the Central American population that would go a long ways to providing — disincentiving these smugglers and cartels and traffickers from bringing the kids up in the first place," said McCaul.
Democrats are also a major part of the problem, he said, as "every Democrat voted against a very. I think. rational DACA fix."
McCaul said he'd also argue national security is at stake, and it's important to secure the border against not only drug cartels, but terrorists.
"We stop ten terrorists every day from getting into this country," he said. "I look at it from a national security standpoint. It should be a bipartisan issue, but if not, the Senate has that traditional role. I think they should weigh that in this case on the basis of national security to protect the American people."
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