AUSTIN, Texas — Representative Jeb Hensarling, a Republican representing Texas’ Fifth Congressional District, gave an interview to Breitbart Texas at the Defending the American Dream Summit organized by Americans for Prosperity last month in Dallas, to share his thoughts on the crisis on the Texas border:
Hensarling called it a “huge problem” that President Obama was “refusing to faithfully execute the laws and secure our border for quite some time.” Hensarling has visited the border himself and had high praise for the Border Patrol.
One remedy put forward by the Republican-led House is to allow Border Patrol agents to access to federal property . “Most Americans would just be aghast to know that so much of our border is functionally off limits to the Border Patrol,” Hensarling said. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) mentioned this issue in an op-ed he wrote for Breitbart Texas in July:
Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley sector cite restrictions that bar access to federal lands as a significant stumbling block to securing the border. The Departments of Interior and Agriculture currently have rules that prevent Border Patrol agents from accessing federal lands near the border under the guise of environmental preservation. As a result, federal lands along the border provide drug traffickers, human smugglers, and unlawful immigrants effective routes and hiding places where Border Patrol agents cannot reach them. President Obama should reverse this foolish policy.
The House proposal would also include adding or expanding roads in these areas and giving a clear grant of authority to governors to deploy the National Guard to assist the Border Patrol, at federal expense.
Hensarling said he “had a lot of respect” for Texas Governor Rick Perry’s move to deploy the National Guard. “It wasn’t [Perry’s] responsibility, but again, we’ve got a President with a pen and a phone, but he doesn’t have a Constitution, and he’s not faithfully executing the laws when it comes to securing our border.”
Regarding the surge of unaccompanied minor children who have crossed the border, Hensarling advocated sending them back to their home countries as soon as possible, and working to discourage new arrivals. “We’re a humane country, but we’re country that believes in the rule of law, and I think that the most humane thing we can do is to convince others not to take this journey. It is a very, very dangerous journey.”
Border security must come first, along with reforms to the exit visa system, according to Hensarling, before any other immigration reforms could be considered. A major hindrance he mentioned was that Obama has “so little credibility on this issue, that it’s hard to see a way forward.”
[Disclosure: the author of this article has previously done independent consulting work for Americans for Prosperity.]
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter at @rumpfshaker.