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Rep. Brian Babin: The ‘Shell Game’ on the Border and the End of Title 42

“Processing and facilitating the release of illegal immigrants into the United States—that’s what they consider to be progress,” says Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) in reference to the Biden administration. He describes a “shell game” on the border in which crowds of immigrants are shuffled from one facility to another without solving the root problems.

We discuss the border crisis, the reversal of Trump-era border policies, and what Rep. Babin expects the end of Title 42 will look like.

Jan Jekielek: Congressman Brian Babin, such a pleasure to have you back on American Thought Leaders.

Rep. Brian Babin: Jan, it’s always good to be with you and especially here in Dallas at CPAC.

Mr. Jekielek: We talked last time in March and of course, you’re the head of the Border Security Caucus, and you were raising some pretty serious alarm bells. Here we are in mid-July. How has everything changed? Where are we at right now?

Rep. Babin: We’re pretty much in the same position, except more migrants, more bedlam, more chaos. We saw that the vice president finally made her way down to the border after being named as the border security czar or chief by President Biden. It took her that long, nearly a hundred days to get down there. When she went, instead of going to the real hotspot in the Rio Grande Valley sector, she went 500 miles away to the El Paso sector, and quite frankly, it was a photo op.

And then, when asked if there had been progress made down there, she said, “Yes, there’s been extreme progress made.” After further questioning, we find out that that progress in her book, and then I guess in all the Democrats’ minds, is that processing and facilitating the release of illegal immigrants into the United States. That’s what they consider to be progress.

This is what’s happening. Our border is wide open, and they have done away with all of the great provisions and policies of the Trump administration, who worked so extremely hard.

They had their challenging moments in 2019, and they more than met the challenge with the migrant protection protocols, asylum cooperative agreements, Title 42, building the wall, and a declaration of disaster for the nation. All of that’s being reversed or already has been reversed by the Biden administration in a disastrous manner.

Mr. Jekielek: You mentioned Title 42. This is something that’s actually in place now. From what I understand, it’s at the end of the month that it’s set to expire. Just tell me, what is Title 42, for the benefit of our audience?

Rep. Babin: Sure. Title 42 is a public health directive that enables the CDC director to turn back people who are trying to come in and seek asylum in the United States. By the way, probably 8 out of 10, maybe even 9 out of 10 of these asylum seekers don’t have credible fear, and they’re ultimately turned down by immigration courts. But nevertheless, they’re coming in and seeking asylum.

During the pandemic, during the Trump administration COVID pandemic, they were able to turn these people back because of a fear and danger of them infecting American citizens. Quite reasonable, common sense, especially during a lockdown when people are having to wear a mask and are not at work.

Many of the people that are coming in during this Biden administration, there is no question that many of them have been released COVID positive. [Title 42] is going to be done away with by the Biden administration at the end of this month.

Mr. Jekielek: Let’s say that provision ends, what happens?

Rep. Babin: There goes the last great tool that our border authorities have of turning back the caravans, the hordes of people. The cartels are simply defacto in charge of our border. They’re human trafficking, they’re bringing people in, they’re bringing drugs—fentanyl, for example, one of the deadliest drugs on the face of this planet.

I’m a healthcare practitioner, I can tell you, fentanyl is a substitute for heroin for many drug addicts, but so much more powerful, a hundred times more potent, just a small, small dose can kill you. Historically, we’ve had probably 70,000 Americans a year dying of overdoses. In just the last year or two, we’re up to 90,000 Americans a year dying of drug overdoses.

And now the Biden administration very, very foolishly—like they’ve done away with many other things: they stopped the construction of the border wall, they’ve stopped the migrant protection protocols, done away with the declaration of disaster, of national emergency rather—now they’re going to do away with this final Title 42, which is a great tool in the toolkit for controlling our border.

So you will have more people coming in, I think, which will result in more mayhem, bedlam, chaos, overloading our facilities, diversion tactics by the cartels to send more people in. They’re not going to be sent back because Title 42 is going by the wayside.

They’ll pull more border patrol agents off the line to take care of these people that are coming in, the family units, the UACs, the unaccompanied children, leaving gaps in the border.

We have gates that were unfinished. Our border patrol is even having to pay the salaries to station border patrol agents at these open gates, rather than facilitating their completion of their construction so that they can at least close the gate. They’re not able to do that.

More people will be coming in; fewer people will be sent back. That means you’re going to have more drugs, more human trafficking, more bedlam, more chaos, and fewer border patrol agents that are manning the border on the wall right there on the front lines. They’re going to be taking care of children, taking care of families, transporting illegals here and there. That’s how that works.

Mr. Jekielek: For the record, what is your position in general on immigration?

Rep. Babin: I am for immigration. It has to be legal. The United States of America is one of the most immigration-friendly nations on the face of this earth. My own daughter-in-law is an immigrant and naturalized citizen.

We’re all children and descendants of immigrants here in this country, unless you’re a Native American, and I am no different. My ancestors came from various countries, Western and Eastern Europe. Quite frankly, we need to have immigrants coming into this country, but we have to do it in a way where you have an orderly, lawful system that cannot be just bedlam and chaos.

Criminals that have come across the border have increased, the apprehension of criminal aliens has gone up over a thousand percent. Many of these people from these foreign countries are just opening their jails up, and they come straight into the United States of America. We know that that is happening.

Actually, the Marielitos did this in communist Cuba a few years ago. They opened their jails up; they came in. Well, some of these countries are doing the exact same thing, and we’re endangering a lot of American lives and property. This is exactly why Governor Abbott in this great state of Texas, which I’m proud to be a Texan, is instituting—we’re having to take the bit in our own mouth in order to have some kind of semblance of border orderliness and security.

I really appreciate the governor doing this because it’s a provision in the constitution. Article Four, Section Four says that our federal government has got to protect us from invasion, from domestic violence.

We’re counting on the federal government to do that. If they don’t do their job, they’ve completely violated their oath of office, the Biden administration have, in not protecting us. I really appreciate the state of Texas doing this and the other various states that are sending people here to help us maintain order and secure our border.

Mr. Jekielek: You mentioned countries that are opening up their jails. Can you elaborate on that, where’s this data coming from? I hadn’t heard of this.

Rep. Babin: Well, this actually came from—I was on the border just the other day with the governor and a number of border patrol agents and chiefs were down there and even President Trump as he spoke to us in the round table there said that sometimes people will empty their jails out and those people can make their way up to here.

I don’t have any other data other than what I heard down there in the Rio Grande Valley the other day with Governor Abbott and President Trump, but I can tell you that it happened during the Cuban crisis when the Marielitos were coming here, boatloads of them, many of them criminals, and we’re seeing an enormous, enormous [increase in] hard data of the number of criminal aliens being apprehended by our border authorities today. It’s up over a thousand percent.

Child sex trafficking, women are being molested and sexually assaulted, one third of them before they get up here. I’ve seen photographs and horrible videos of dismembered people who have crossed the Mexican drug cartels. I’ve seen a lot of things, really just terrifying things that are happening.

Again, the de facto control of our borders is in the hands of the cartels because this Biden administration has empowered the cartels by their foolishness and doing away with these provisions that the Trump administration had worked so hard on. They have done away with these provisions, and now we’ve got bedlam and chaos on the border.

When we hear “extreme progress” being made down there on the border by our Vice President Harris, and we find out that that progress means facilitating the processing of illegals across the border and facilitating their release as fast as possible—this is what the book Democrat philosophy is, open borders.

They believe that we should have open borders. No matter whether it costs Americans their jobs, their lives, their property, drugs coming in by the ton, it seems to be not that it doesn’t bother them.

Mr. Jekielek: Just to speak to this question of processing people as being a mark of success. No one disputes, I think, that there is a humanitarian crisis at the border as we speak, right? I’m just thinking out loud here. Presumably everyone wants to alleviate that humanitarian crisis, whatever their other plans are, right?

Rep. Babin: Even though they call Trump inhumane and cruel with his policies, we have seen far, far worse. The children and kids in cages that we all saw back in 2019, those cases were not made and constructed by the Trump administration. We found out later that they were constructed by the Obama administration.

Having gone to the border no less than three times in the last six months, I have seen facilities down there. One comes to mind in Donna, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley sector that had a capacity of 250 unaccompanied children and there were 5700 unaccompanied children packed like sardines in this facility.

A few weeks later, the Biden administration released photographs that shows these pods that were packed with children, now suddenly with not very many kids in them. We find out later that they’re just sending these children [across the street].

They’re facilitating their release from the CBP facilities in Donna into a health and human services facility 50 yards across the road. Even a Democrat Congressman Henry Cuellar, who represents that particular area, made the comment that this is a shell game.

They’re showing empty pods now where they were just jammed pack, when in reality, they’ve walked these kids 50 yards across the road to go into a health and human services, HHS facility. And they say, “Look, see, we’re taking care of the problem.” That is their idea of success. It’s simply a shell game: “Hey, where’s the pea? Which cup is the pea under?”

It is simply a way to keep the American people from seeing the terrible overload on the facilities down there and what’s happening to these children. We have seen things down there, Jan, incredible things.

For instance, a number of these female people, unaccompanied children, that are coming into the El Paso sector and Fort Bliss—I went and saw that HHS facility—many of the females are already pregnant. They’re doing pregnancy tests on them. They don’t even have cameras up around the facilities, at least they didn’t at the time that we were there a couple of months ago. So I’m not sure that the security there was very well either.

Then when we asked the admiral who is the director and administrator of this facility at Fort Bliss how much this was costing the American taxpayer, he could not tell us. He said, “I don’t have that information,” but I can tell you that the American taxpayer is being soaked for billions and billions of dollars taking care of these illegal immigrants that are coming in, especially the unaccompanied children.

The Biden administration simply does not really want us to know how much it is costing. We couldn’t get that information. In fact, I was even denied entry into the El Paso Intelligence Center, me and 12 other Republican members of Congress. All of us authorizers are appropriators. We were actually appropriating the money that paid for the El Paso Intelligence Center to run, and the Department of Justice would not allow us entry into that facility.

I think that’s an unconstitutional move on their part. We are the ones that are constitutionally mandated to oversee that facility, and the Biden administration would not let us in.

Mr. Jekielek: Why do you think they didn’t want you in there?

Rep. Babin: Because they didn’t want us to see what was going on in there. Drugs were escalating through the roof at that point in time, and one of their main functions and mandates of the El Paso Intelligence Center is to keep drugs from coming across the border. Fentanyl was up about a thousand percent, and they simply would not let us in.

The DEA agents are doing the best they possibly can. Our border patrol, the DEA are doing a tremendous job, but they’re batting with a short stick. They’re having their hands tied behind them. Fully 40 percent, this is a good number, fully 40 percent, of our border patrol agents have been taken off the line to work and help care for children, for illegal immigrants, that are in these facilities.

When that happens, it leaves the border wide open for the drug cartels to have sex trafficking, human trafficking, and also bring in more and more loads of drugs. That’s what’s happened. The cartels know exactly what they’re doing. Exactly.

Mr. Jekielek: I know as a fact, for example, that the state of Florida sent some law enforcement officials to support. Perhaps there’s other states that are also doing this kind of thing.

Rep. Babin: There are other states.

Mr. Jekielek: How does that work? Have you encountered any of these people?

Rep. Babin: Not yet. When we were down there several weeks ago, when President Trump was there with Governor Abbott, we were just getting word that Governor DeSantis was going to send a number of his law enforcement officers to Texas to help secure our border.

Governor Kristi Noem from South Dakota, North Dakota, Idaho, there are a number of other states that were going to send some of their law enforcement agencies’ officers down to Texas to help us secure our border. Very thankful for that.

As I said earlier, constitutionally, if the federal government under the Biden administration refuses to do their job and honor their oath of office to uphold, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States, and they are not doing that, they’re in violation of the law. They’re ignoring the law. Then it’s up to the states. Article Four, Section Four of the U.S. Constitution gives states the authority to step up and enter that gap and secure our own border to protect Texas citizens and their property.

The border is out of control, Jan. If the federal government is not going to do their job, in violation of their oaths of office and violation of the law, then it’s up to the various states on the border to do so. That’s what Governor Abbott is doing. I’m in full support of what he’s doing, and I thank these other states who are sending help to Texas to do that.

Mr. Jekielek: I asked you when we interviewed back in March what you see the solution being here. I know that you’ve been consulting with a lot of experts. Now where do you stand with respect to this? What is the solution here?

Rep. Babin: These policies that were put in place by President Trump cannot just be put right back in at the snap of fingers. It’s going to be tougher to go back to these policies.

Number one, resume construction of the border wall. It worked. Nancy Pelosi lives behind walls. She erected a wall, a steel wall topped with barbed wire around our beautiful Capitol. She spent almost $2 billion on securing our Capitol after the January 6th riot up there where one person got killed. It was a terrible day, it certainly was, but why spend nearly $2 billion securing our Capitol and yet stop the border wall, which is costing the American taxpayer untold billions of dollars, murder victims, rape victims, drugs, human trafficking.

There’s an entire sub-economy of serfdom, if you will, and denatured servitude, because the cartels are charging these individuals coming across the border. Everyone that crosses that border has to pay the cartels. If they don’t pay, they die.

They do terrible things to these people. I’ve seen some of the photographs. I’ve even seen some of the evidence of it when I was on my tours down to these areas in Texas and in Arizona and New Mexico. We absolutely have got to get a handle on this.

The cartels cannot be empowered. We’ve got to declare war on these cartels, we’ve got to build this wall, we’ve got to man this wall, and we’ve got to increase the funding for border security, which has basically gone flat. The budget of President Biden doesn’t give us any extra money for border security. It’s incredible, and yet he’s going to spend trillions of dollars on what he calls infrastructure, Green New Deal policies, killing our fossil fuels here in Texas, and he’s not going to increase the funding and appropriations for border security. It’s incredible.

We’ve got to turn that around. That’s the only solution we have, re-institute these policies. It’s going to be tough to do, but we can do it. Start building and constructing that wall, hire more boots on the ground down there so that we don’t have to leave gaps in the wall to take care of kids and families and start turning people back that have a criminal background.

A thousand percent increase in fentanyl and other dangerous drugs that are killing up to 90,000 Americans a year are coming in, incredible. President Biden, abide by your oath of office. Vice President Harris, don’t just go down to the border and have a photo op, go to where it really is bad. Start taking care of our border.

This philosophy of open borders is going to be the destruction of our great democratic republic that we’re all so proud of and have enjoyed the liberties and freedoms of past generations to pass it on to future generations. We’ve got to have a secure border. If we don’t have that secure border, this country is in very dire straits and in grave danger of destruction.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, Congressman Brian Babin such a pleasure to have you on.

Rep. Babin: Great to be with you, Jan.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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