While appearing on PBS’s “NewsHour” on Tuesday to discuss the surge at the U.S.-Mexico border and the possibility of a forthcoming immigration bill on Capitol Hill, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) offered his assessment of the situation.
Cuellar, whose 28th congressional district in Texas is adjacent to the southern U.S. border, was somewhat critical of the Biden administration’s approach to responding to the border crisis.
“What needs to be done right now, Congressman, to deal with this?” “NewsHour” host Judy Woodruff asked.
“Well, a couple of things,” Cuellar replied. “One, once the kids are here, we’re going to take care of the kids, number one. Number two, Title 42, which is being used for public health, we’re returning the adults back, and even some family units back. And then the other thing is, we have got to get the right message. You know, when you say don’t come now, come later, that message, in my opinion, is not a very good message. We have to be very clear as to what we mean on the border because the president or the administration’s message is not getting through.”
“I will tell you what is getting through because I have asked people this question,” he continued. “One, the friends, the neighborhood, the friends and the cousins’ network, hey, guess what? We’re coming across. We got over here. You come over. This is the time to do it, number one. And then you have the drug cartels that are aggressively marketing because any time they get somebody, they make money. So, those two messages are being heard right now. And this message, don’t come now, come later, with all due respect, is not being heard down there in Central America or Mexico.”
Woodruff went on to ask Cuellar what the Biden administration should do, to which Cuellar suggested images of the migrants being returned across the border. He also said the message was not getting through given rhetoric from Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who referred to Biden as the “migrant president.”
“I was at a center in Carrizo Springs,” Cuellar replied. “And I asked that question of the 16-, 17-year-olds who were there. I asked them, what message? And they said, well, we keep seeing TV images in Central America about people coming across. So, they see that image. And as I told the former Secretary Jeh Johnson, former Homeland [Security] secretary for President Obama, hey, you got to show some images that you actually are returning people. Show that you’re returning the adults. Show that you’re returning people back because if all they’re going to see are images of people coming across into the United States, yes, then that’s what they’re — that’s what they’re going to believe and hear.”
“Look, let me put it this way,” he added. “When the president of Mexico calls the president of the United States the ‘migrant president,’ and giving hope for people to come across, that tells you that Latin America is seeing a very different or hearing a very different message from what we’re trying to portray.”
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