CNN’s Juliette Kayyem Demands Federal Government Suspend Immigration Enforcement in Uvalde

Juliette Kayyem, candidate for governor, addresses delegates at the state Democratic Convention Saturday, June 14, 2014 in Worcester, Mass.
Stephan Savoia/AP

In the wake of Tuesday’s attack on a Texas elementary school which left 19 children and two adults dead, CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem called for the federal government to suspend immigration enforcement in the area of Uvalde, Texas, and turn the small town into a “safe harbor” for illegals residing there.

Speaking to CNN on Tuesday, Kayyem cited the demographics of the area of the shooting to highlight the importance of halting immigration enforcement there.

“From an investigation standpoint, I’m going to do what the facts tell me now. So I’ve got demographics first of all, [it’s] an 80% Hispanic school district,” she said. 

“So the most important thing for the federal government to do right now is to say there will be no immigration enforcement during this period in that area,” she added.

Due to the vicinity’s “large immigration population,” Kayyem explained that families should be united at this time and that “you don’t want people hiding right now.” 

“We need to make that clear ASAP because of the political issues in Texas,” she said in reference to Texas’ dealing with record-setting numbers of migrants illegally crossing the border from Mexico into the United States.

About 60 to 70 percent of migrant crossings occur in the five Texas-based Border Patrol sectors. 

Noting that the town, located about 85 miles west of San Antonio and roughly 75 miles from the border with Mexico, is a “predominantly Hispanic population with a large immigrant community,” Kayyem reiterated the need to declare the area a “safe harbor” for illegal immigrants.

“We need the federal government to say right now, ‘Everyone is essentially safe harbor right now in terms of immigration status,’” she said.  

“We need people to come forward, not to be fearful of immigration status,” she added. 

Kayyem, who served as assistant secretary for homeland security under President Obama, explained that in incidents like this, “when we’re going to have a strong police presence [and] a strong federal presence,” many in such communities “do not react — especially if their status is unknown — to police presence as you or I may.” 

“We want to make sure that they know despite all the politics that are going on in Texas right now, it’s the federal government that’s in charge of immigration enforcement and people are safe,” she said.

“Get your kids, get your families together, do not hide. And the White House just needs to say that right now,” she added. “This should not be delayed.”

Law enforcement personnel stand outside Robb Elementary School following a shooting, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Law enforcement personnel stand outside Robb Elementary School following a shooting, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Last month, Kayyem argued against referring to a New York City subway station shooting  that injured more than two dozen people as an act of “terrorism,” a term she said should be reserved for political acts such as the January 6 Capitol riot.

In February, she called to slash the tires of the Canadian trucker convoy and arrest the drivers protesting their government’s strict coronavirus policies.

In December, Kayyem accused former President Donald Trump of “leading a terror movement.”

In 2015, she protested against arming people in soft targets such as schools and public venues to prevent attacks.

“I want to make it clear here, guns are not the solution here. The idea of arming everyone who might be in a soft target is absurd. I mean, then you’re talking about schools, movie theaters — you’d have a very different society,” she said.

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.

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