The 2024 Democrat presidential candidate believes that Mexican drug cartels are driving the U.S. southern border policy.
As the number of migrants apprehended by U.S. immigration agents after illegally crossing the southern border has soared to near-record levels in September, Robert F. Kennedy chastised President Joe Biden for the “humanitarian crisis” and encouraged unity between Democrats and Republicans to “quickly secure the borders.”
Mr. Kennedy delivered remarks about the border crisis at a Sept. 22 press conference in Austin, Texas, where he will appear at meet and greets over the weekend.
“Since Biden was elected, 7 million immigrants have come across the border illegally,” Mr. Kennedy said. “In the same period, just 3.1 million arrived legally. What that means is the Mexican drug cartels are driving American border policy.”
“We need unity. This shouldn’t be a Democratic issue or a Republic issue,” he added. “The Democrats who have been urging an open border policy need to look at the evidence now and rethink their positions. And we need to quickly secure the borders. Then we can think about work permits or amnesty programs. But we can’t sell those to the American people until the borders are closed and the frontiers are secure.”
Mr. Kennedy held the press conference on the same day that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released an update showing the number of people trying to illegally enter the United States illegally reached the highest monthly figure in recorded history in August.
According to the agency, 304,162 people were either deemed inadmissible at points of entry or were caught by Border Patrol agents after crossing the border illegally in August.
That figure stood at 245,213 in July. The August numbers represented a 24 percent increase.
The previous record was also established during President Biden’s tenure, with 302,412 nationwide encounters in December 2022, according to CBP data.
Even in the midst of surging illegal immigration, the White House announced on Sept. 20 that the Biden administration will allow around half a million Venezuelans already in the United States—including those who illegally entered the country—to file for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This will permit them to temporarily work and be protected from deportation.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending and redesignating its TPS program for Venezuelan nationals for 18 months due to “extraordinary and temporary conditions” in Venezuela that prevent individuals from safely returning, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said.
The redesignation means that approximately 472,000 Venezuelans currently in the United States may be eligible for protection under the program, the DHS said.
“Giving 470,000 migrants work visas is a signal to the rest of the world that anyone who comes to this country is going to get a work visa. And that’s the last thing we want to signal at this point. Until the border is secure, we should not be talking about work visas for anybody,” Mr. Kennedy said at the Sept. 22 press conference.
Mr. Kennedy arrived in Texas at a time when Eagle Pass, Texas, Mayor Rolando Salinas Jr. issued an emergency declaration due to a “severe” surge in illegal immigration.
Mr. Salinas signed the order on Sept. 19, officially declaring a state of disaster for the city of Eagle Pass that will last for at least seven days and may be renewed if the crisis persists.
At a Sept. 19 press conference, Mr. Salinas estimated that over Sept. 17 and into early Sept. 18, around 2,500 people crossed into Eagle Pass illegally, though he said that this was not an “official, exact number.”
Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber said that another 2,700 migrants crossed at Eagle Pass on Sept. 19 and 3,000 more arrived on Sept. 20.
Mr. Abbott said he had ordered more troops from the Texas National Guard, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and local law enforcement to repel illegal crossings and install additional razor wire.
“We are building a border wall, razor wire & marine barriers,” he said.
On Sept. 20, DHS officials said that around 800 new active-duty military personnel were being sent to the border.
Law enforcement officials told The New York Post earlier this week that Mexican drug and human trafficking cartels have been purposefully directing masses of illegal immigrants to inundate CBP operations at the U.S. border.
The objective of this is to help the cartels conduct their illegal operations with less oversight.
According to the DHS, the active-duty personnel will focus on “logistics and other functions at the border to allow more Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and officers to return to their core mission and responsibilities.”
“Healing the divide” with “unity” is a core campaign message for Mr. Kennedy, who once agreed with President Biden’s border policy.
Mr. Kennedy has said that, initially, he wasn’t in favor of former President Donald Trump’s border wall. But after seeing the border firsthand in Arizona in July, he changed his mind. He said there’s a need for increased infrastructure and technology at the border, including more segments of a physical wall and sensors in areas where a wall isn’t feasible.
“The Democratic Party thinks our function should be welcoming all immigrants into the country no matter what, and to basically open the borders. And the experiment has been a disaster, a humanitarian catastrophe,” Mr. Kennedy told The Epoch Times in August.
“I watched it firsthand. I watched 300 people come across the border and then be processed and sent to locations all over the country with court dates seven years down the road.
“There’s now 7 million people who have come across illegally and have no legal status in this country. Those people are very vulnerable now to unscrupulous employers who are paying them $5 and $6 an hour,” he said.
Mr. Kennedy called the Biden administration’s open border policy “a way of funding a multibillion-dollar drug and human trafficking operation for the Mexican drug cartels.”
“As president, I will secure the border, which will end the cartel’s drug trafficking economy. I will build wide doors for those who wish to enter legally so that the U.S. can continue to be a beacon to the world where diversity and culture make us great,” he said.
“Immigration is good for our country, but this kind of immigration is unfair to everybody.”