Texas is a border state, and Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss how illegal immigration is affecting it.
“With my military background, 20 years in the Air Force, it’s incumbent upon commanders to visit troops in the field,” Pfluger told The Daily Signal.
“We’ve asked the commander in chief to visit the Border Patrol agents, because what stood out to me was, when you talk to these folks, they’re trying to the best of their ability to do their job to secure our country, and they don’t have the resources,” the freshman Texas lawmaker says. “In fact, this administration is cutting resources, halting construction on the border wall, not giving the technology that they need.”
Pfluger also shares his take on the 178,622 illegal immigrants detained along the U.S.-Mexico border in April. That’s the highest number of monthly apprehensions in at least two decades.
He also discusses how demand for gasoline is skyrocketing after the Colonial Pipeline was hacked by a criminal organization called DarkSide.
We also cover these stories:
- House Republicans oust Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming from her position as GOP Conference chairwoman, the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives.
- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says that the United States is professing “ironclad support” for Israel as the Jewish state faces ongoing attacks from Hamas, a Palestinian militant group.
- The government is asking Americans not to hoard gasoline amid increased shortages on the East Coast stemming from the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack.
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Rachel del Guidice: We are joined today on “The Daily Signal Podcast” by Congressman August Pfluger of Texas. Congressman Pfluger, it’s great to have you with us on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
Rep. August Pfluger: Thank you for having me. It’s great to be with you all.
Del Guidice: In February, you were on a trip to the border with [House Republican Leader Kevin] McCarthy and some other members of Congress. Can you just start off by telling us what you saw?
Pfluger: It’s amazing what we saw at that point in time and now a couple months later, how much has changed and how much worse the situation, the crisis, has actually gotten.
We were there at a time when I think a lot of the reversal of [former President Donald] Trump’s policies by the Biden administration was really starting to hit and people were starting to see it for the first time. I’ll give you an example.
The number of folks that were surging toward the southern border had started, but the facilities were not yet at full capacity until, no kidding, the very day that we showed up in El Paso. That sector, that facility was built about a year and a half ago and it was built for a maximum capacity of 1,040 people. Well, it had never reached capacity until that day that we were there.
Now, obviously, we saw 172,000 encounters with illegal migrants in March, we saw 178,000 encounters in April. We’ve got almost 750,000 to date in this current fiscal year and anticipating 2 million in the entire year. That’s the estimated number that does not include the “got-aways.”
So what we saw was the sheer number of people who were being trafficked by “coyotes” and cartels and traffickers, and being used to get across the border.
The clear message from the administration is our border is open and yet nothing is being done, no visits from the president or the vice president, and a reversal of all the policies that we knew were working with the last administration.
Del Guidice: Is there any one particular thing, Congressman Pfluger, that stands out to you from this trip to the border, something you learned, something you saw that really characterizes the time for you?
Pfluger: Absolutely. With my military background, 20 years in the Air Force, it’s incumbent upon commanders to visit troops in the field. We’ve asked the commander in chief to visit the Border Patrol agents because what stood out to me was when you talk to these folks, they’re trying to the best of their ability to do their job to secure our country and they don’t have the resources. In fact, this administration is cutting resources, halting construction on the border wall, not giving the technology that they need.
They’re pleading with us, telling us we have people who are on the known and suspected terror watch list that are crossing into this country. They’ve apprehended four already this year, and yet they don’t have the resources. So it’s just unconscionable to think that the administration is not providing those that would keep us safe with the resources they need to do their job.
Del Guidice: What do you want people to know about the situation at the border that the mainstream media isn’t reporting on? If there’s one or two things you could highlight and bring up on that topic, what would you want to say people need to know this and this is what they’re not hearing from the media?
Pfluger: Well, it’s impacting daily life in the state of Texas, and I suspect in Arizona and other border states. It’s impacting our ranchers and our farmers with literally hundreds of people illegally crossing through their land every single day, high-speed chases that are knocking down fences trying to get the ones that they do encounter.
In my district in Midland, Texas, just last Friday, [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] uncovered 33 illegal immigrants who were in a stash house who had been trafficked. So you think about this.
I’ve talked to the ambassadors of these countries and in fact, had a conversation just today with one. I said, “Well, is there a difference between this administration and the last administration?” Of course, he’s an ambassador, he has to work with whoever the president is. He said, “Yes, the message is loud and clear to those in Central and South America and around the world to come to America at this point in time.”
I mean, that’s just unbelievable that the mainstream media won’t cover that and won’t hold them accountable for the lack of policies to keep us safe.
Del Guidice: [Customs and Border Protection] released the numbers for April of detentions along the U.S.-Mexico border. They said that over 100,000—178,622—illegal immigrants were detained along the border in April. They’re saying this is the highest number in at least two decades. So what’s your perspective on this really significant jump that we’ve seen?
Pfluger: You compare that to last April, 17,000, but yet the message coming from the administration is, “Well, the numbers have plateaued.” It’s just unbelievable that we’re looking at 172,000 in March, 178,000 in April, and yet they still won’t take a trip to the border to see this.
I mean, look, the fact is that our communities are literally suffering a huge crisis. If the administration is unwilling to look at it from the security of Texans and Arizonans and New Mexicans and other border states, well, why don’t we look at it from the safety and security of the kids who are being trafficked and just start there?
Because this ambassador that I talked to told me that they are being recruited from traffickers every single day and it’s not that hard because they know that it’s going to be very easy to get into this country, even easier than if you’re trying to come as a U.S. citizen and you don’t have a COVID test to prove that you’re COVID-negative. Yet as an illegal immigrant, you can literally walk across the border.
Del Guidice: Congressman Pfluger, you’ve talked about how the president and vice president, they haven’t been to the border to assess the situation and the administration itself is saying that what’s happening at the border isn’t a crisis. They said that on multiple different occasions. Would you agree with their assessment of the situation?
Pfluger: No, it’s absolutely a crisis. I think the disheartening thing here is that national security is not partisan. National security is not a Republican or a Democrat thing. National security involves everybody here in our country, and yet the administration refuses. I mean, even doing away with the words, I just want them to visit the border to see the facilities, to understand that their policies have caused this surge.
Del Guidice: How much would you say the crisis at the border is costing the U.S. taxpayer when it comes to the handling, the transportation, the feeding, all these different things of those who cross over? How is this impacting the U.S. taxpayer?
Pfluger: Well, it’s billions of dollars. I think we probably don’t even know the full extent of it right now.
I’ve introduced a piece of legislation called the American Border Rescue Plan because Gov. [Greg] Abbott, the governor of Texas, called me and asked our delegation and myself to help because the state of Texas is actually now shouldering the burden, the financial burden, for protecting our own border because the federal government has abdicated on this issue.
So literally, Texans are now paying federal taxes that should be going toward border security and they’re not, and the state taxes that we pay are helping the [Department of Public Safety] troops that the governor is sending down, the National Guard troops that the governor is sending down, and the other resources.
What we’re asking for in this piece of legislation would reimburse the state of Texas and others who use state funds to do what the federal government should do, which is to protect the border.
Del Guidice: You touched on this Congressman Pfluger, but Vice President Kamala Harris was appointed by President [Joe] Biden as the point person for the border crisis. As you highlight, the president has not made a trip to the border. Vice President Kamala Harris hasn’t made a trip to the border. What is your reaction to this? What do you think needs to happen?
Pfluger: We’ve sent several letters to the vice president and the president asking them, inviting them in fact, to come down and see the border for themselves. So I think it just speaks to their priorities and that they really have abandoned border states.
I wish New Mexico would look at this and Arizona. I mean, the fentanyl that is crossing the borders, the drugs that are crossing the borders, the children that are being trafficked, I mean, it is a tragic situation. They use this word “humane” a lot. This is not humane. They have literally put children into one of the worst situations that you can imagine.
When we find 33 of these migrants illegally held and trafficked in my district, and 90 in Houston just a couple of days later, we understand that their priorities have nothing to do with security and safety and humanity. They’re just completely misprioritizing the American people and our need for security.
Del Guidice: … The day he was inaugurated, President Biden stopped all construction of the border wall. You, I believe, with some colleagues, had sent a letter to the administration talking about the suspension of border wall construction. Can you tell us a little bit about that, if you’ve heard any response, where that stands right now?
Pfluger: Well, no, we haven’t heard any response, but I think the lack of response is exactly the answer and that is no action is being taken.
In addition to that letter and others, we in my district have one of the first emergency intake centers for migrant children. In the middle of night with no communication and a severe lack of transparency, the federal government, the HHS, [Department of] Health and Human Services, set up a facility to take in the overage of children who were crossing the border. I mean, we have a record number of children, unaccompanied minors.
So another piece of legislation that I’ve introduced is the Migrant Facility Transparency Act, which basically is so simple, but it’s not happening.
We are asking for the federal government, the health and human services secretary, to just let us know what the plan is, what the actions are, what’s the strategy, when are you going to be able to close down and get back to normal operations because these are emergency centers? That’s not being done. There’s no response to the letter that you mentioned and no response to any of our inquiries.
Del Guidice: Before we wrap-up, I wanted to ask you about the recent situation with the [Colonial] Pipeline and gasoline problem we’re seeing right now. A criminal organization called DarkSide hacked into the [Colonial] Pipeline and now there’s just been this basically reaction of demand for gas and the whole crisis with this pipeline being hacked. What’s your perspective on what’s happening and how should this be responded to?
Pfluger: Well, it’s a serious situation. As a conservative, I’m grading the president on two things: Have you made our country more safe and more prosperous, more secure and more prosperous?
Coming from a district in West Texas that produces with the Permian Basin there 40% of our country’s oil, tremendous amount of natural gas, energy security is national security. Energy security has everything to do with our economic security and our national security. And this Colonial Pipeline, which produces 45% of the East Coast’s fuel needs, being hacked into and having a criminal organization holding it hostage is a serious threat.
I think it highlights the need for resiliency and also should highlight and be a wake-up call for the American public to understand that our way of life has everything to do with the affordable, reliable energy that’s produced in my district and in others and has allowed the American dream to really take off in the last 10 to 20 years.
Del Guidice: On that note and as we wrap-up, you had pointed out on Twitter that the national average for gas prices is the highest it’s been since President [Barack] Obama was in office in 2014. What would you say, Congressman Pfluger, about what this has to say about the future?
Pfluger: I think that there’s a couple of factors that go into this. Some of them are just market-based factors from the pandemic. But certainly, when you look at the policy and the all-out assault that the Biden ministration has on fossil fuels and in fact, today I had a chance to question Secretary Kerry, former Secretary of State [John] Kerry, in his role as the energy leader for the Biden administration and asked him why we would give our power away.
I asked him, I said, “Do you believe that our country’s baseload capacity requirement for electricity can be served by just wind and solar?” He said, “No.”
We ran out of time, but what I really want to know is then why are you assaulting the industry, the oil and gas industry, which can provide clean, affordable, reliable energy to 330 million Americans and so many other people around the globe?
So it’s beyond me why the administration has assaulted this industry, but the things that it has done for our country and for the rest of the world are so incredible and we’re going to keep fighting to protect it because it really does make our quality of life and others’ around the world so much better.
Del Guidice: Congressman Pfluger, thank you so much for joining us on “The Daily Signal Podcast.” It’s been great having you with us.
Pfluger: Thank you for having me. I sure appreciate it.