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Sen. Cruz: At a Time That Is Particularly Challenging for Our Country, U.S. Border Patrol Agents Hold Exceptionally Important Jobs

Renews calls for Senate Democrats to support U.S. Border Patrol agents defending southern border

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, today issued the following statement of support for the men and women of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP):

"I am proud to support the men and women of our Border Patrol, and the work they do day after day to protect Texas and our country. At a time that is particularly challenging for our country, the brave men and women in green hold exceptionally important jobs and remain steadfast in their commitment to secure and defend our nation's border. As I've traveled across Texas, an overwhelming majority of Texans have expressed that they want to see our border secured, our Border Patrol agents supported, and legal immigration championed. And yet, Senate Democrats continue to ignore the ongoing security and humanitarian crisis at our southern border. Now more than ever, I remain committed to fighting for our Border Patrol agents to ensure they are provided with the technology, resources, and support they need to continue to protect and defend our border."

In April, the U.S. Border Patrol released a report of their record-breaking numbers of apprehensions, which have reached a five-year high: "In Fiscal Year 2019 to date, the U.S. Border Patrol has seen a more than 370% increase in the number of family units apprehended compared to the same time period in FY2018. Today, 60% of apprehensions along the Southwest border are family units and unaccompanied children, made up predominantly of individuals from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador." Following the release of this report, Sen. Cruz called upon Congressional Democrats acknowledge the crisis at the border and to take swift actions to address it immediately. Read his full statement here.

Recently at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Cruz raised concerns regarding the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis at the Texas-Mexico border and urged his colleagues to put aside party line politics to address the crisis at hand. There, he also expressed his gratitude and support for CBP and ICE officers working to protect our southern border and Texas' communities. Watch Sen. Cruz's full line of questioning here. Excerpts are below.

"Sen. Cruz: "Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for being here, it's good to see you again. Let me say a special thanks to the men and women of Border Patrol, the men and women of ICE, for doing an exceptionally difficult and an exceptionally important job at a time that is particularly challenging. We are grateful for the men and women of law enforcement, and the work you do every day to keep us safe.

"Chief Provost, can you give us the most up to date statistics on how many people are crossing the border illegally and what the trend is that you have been seeing?"

Chief Carla Provost: "Certainly Senator. Overall fiscal year to date, 460,294 -- that's border patrol southwest border apprehensions. Just in the month of April, for border patrol southwest border, 98,977. And the trend it is increasing day by day. We had a group just last week -- or a day -- where we apprehended over 5,200 people. We are seeing groups, we actually have apprehended 148 large groups of individuals. Compare that to 13 last fiscal year, and two the fiscal year before that. When I say a large group, that's 100 or more people in one group; 148 of those groups. As you know well, the demographic is changing as well. We have apprehended over 165,000 individuals from Guatemala, 133,000 from Honduras, 42,000 from El Salvador. Currently 80 percent of our apprehensions are other than Mexican nationals, which is a huge demographic shift from where we were just a few years ago. 74 percent are from the northern triangle. In FY18, we apprehended individuals from over 140 different countries. This fiscal year to date we have already apprehended individuals from 127 different countries."

Sen. Cruz: "In your judgment to what extent does ‘catch and release' contribute to this massive increase in illegal crossings?"

Chief Carla Provost: "It is a huge pull factor. In my opening statement, I said my biggest concern is that we will have to start releasing single adults if ICE cannot get enough bed space. What we have seen with family units, since we have had to release all family units, we have seen the numbers grow exponentially. I am highly concerned about what's happening with single adults. Those numbers are increasing dramatically. Over 167,000 single adults. Everybody is focused on the humanitarian crisis, we have a crisis here as well. Those individuals, we have to maintain the ability to maintain those individuals through their immigration hearings and we need a way to safely and securely detain families together through the process as well."

Sen. Cruz: "In March, Commissioner McAleenan testified before this committee that Border Patrol had identified over 1700 cases where children crossed the border with adults claiming to be a family unit only for the Border Patrol to discover that the child and the adult were not related. Can you provide any update on those numbers?"

Chief Carla Provost: "Our fraud numbers are over 3500 now fiscal year to date. That includes individuals who are not related whatsoever. It also may include individuals who claim to be juveniles. But then we determine that they are actually adults themselves as well as some may have-"

Sen. Cruz: "Do you have the breakdown of how many are fraudulent family units? And if not could you get the-"

Chief Carla Provost: "Over 3500 so far."

Sen. Cruz: "So I've heard reports that the cartels are now engaged in the practice of renting children. To what extent has Border Patrol seen that occurring? And is it increasing?"

CBP Chief Carla Provost: "We have seen cases happen. HSI is focused on this as well now, and have task forces that are working with us. Just last week, actually in an office, field operations officer who was assisting border patrol agents, identified a case just like that and worked hand-in-hand with HSI on that investigation where the child admitted to being basically sold by his mother."