July 6th, 2014
12:54 PM ET
9 years ago

Border-state Democrat: Obama 'one step behind' on immigration

Washington (CNN) - The Obama administration is facing fresh criticism for its handling of the immigration crisis from two voices at the center of the debate.

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, and Mayor Alan Long of Murrieta, California - the small town that rose up in protest after federal officials bused illegal immigrants to a facility there - both criticized the administration for failing to fix a broken system and address what they called a foreseeable problem.

[twitter-follow screen_name='politicalticker'][twitter-follow screen_name='ConorCNN']

"With all due respect to the administration, they're one step behind. They should have seen this coming a long time ago," Cuellar, a red-state Democrat, told CNN's Candy Crowley on "State of the Union." His district sits right beside the U.S.-Mexican border in southern Texas.

"This is a national problem, and the world showed up on our doorsteps. We didn't have a lot of answers early on, and there were some legitimate concerns, health concerns and humane concerns," Long told Crowley on CNN, adding, "Those were questions that we just didn't get any answers to."

Crowds of angry protesters, both pro- and anti-immigration, flooded Long's town last week. What started as a concern of local residents became the latest flashpoint in a national debate, according to Long, who emphasized that Murrieta is "a caring, compassionate community. I can't speak for the rest of the world that showed up at our doorsteps."

"Our plan this entire time was to make sure we provided the safety for everyone, protesters on both sides and anyone who comes through the city of Murrieta. And that plan still is in place," he said, asserting that it was the Border Patrol who decided to redirect the buses of illegal immigrants to a San Diego facility.

Earlier in the week, Long blamed the immigration crisis on "a failure to enforce federal law at the federal level."

But Cuellar was quick to point to problems south of the border as well.

Beyond poverty and violence, he said, drug cartels have organized human trafficking rings that make millions by charging around $5,000 per person to get across the border.

"It's a big-money situation," he argued. "The organizations are trying to flood the zones and come in." He estimated that traffickers have made $240 million on the 48,000 immigrants that have crossed the border illegally.

Even if the problems are down south, the solution is here at home, according to Cuellar.

"We're hoping that we can get that money, so we can provide more detention spaces, more flights," to return illegal immigrants to their country of origin, he said, referring to the $2 billion President Obama has requested from Congress.

It will also require legislation. Cuellar pointed to a "2008 human trafficking law that needs to be changed" because it "is an incentive that, if you bring a child over here or your child by themselves, you're going to be let go."

The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 added protections for unaccompanied minors who entered into the U.S. illegally.

"The system that is in place right now lures these people into thinking they're coming to a better place," agreed Long. "We have to fix that."

Filed under: Immigration
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    Deport, cut all types of visas. First give priority to American citizens, green card guys. Freeze immigration.

    July 6, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  2. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    Obama MAY be one step behind BUT the GOP HOUSE is about 100 steps behind with THEIR DO NOTHING and SIT on their HANDS for the REST OF THE YEAR STRADAGY . Good luck in November with NO VOTES.

    July 6, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  3. king

    i guest Obama has to use executive orders to do what must be done, because thought those scary repubs sitting on the sidelines throwing rocks, don't have the balls to write laws to stem the problem. these repubs havent done nothing to bring this country forward in 5 and a half years. how can the american people fall for their insolence every time. we need the borders secured so congress get off your butts and write a law securing the border right now, and give this president the money he will need to do his job. the american people might like the drama you guys have been swirling for 5 years, but i am getting sick and tired of your crap. get up out of your seats and start doing your job for the american people DAM IT.

    July 6, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. Dick

    His concerns are not, without doubt, true, however, the facts are, the immigration service, has be under staffed, and under funded for many years. Same thing for the VA, until the s-, hits the fan. Remember this immigration law, was enacted under Reagan, and was never enforced, by either party, in large part for years. A US Supreme Court Ruling titled Plyor Vs. Dow, also added further funding, requiring education, and protections from enforcement's by ICE. THIS IS THE RESULT OF TRICKLE DOWN ECONOMIC, AND THOUGHT'S, " THAT REGULATION, TO MUCH GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM, UNTIL THEIR IS A PROBLEM" NOTHING IS FREE. THE UPPER INCOME, LOW TAX GIVE AWAY, TO THE UPPER INCOME, WILL RAISE ALL BOATS, HAS BEEN PROVEN WRONG AND HAVE TRICKLED UP, INSTEAD OF DOWN"

    July 6, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. Anthony

    Congress has plenary authority on immigration. Pass a damned law, Congress.

    July 6, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  6. joamaeica

    I live in a border state that is being overrun with illegals. The hands of our border patrol have been tied. Border patrol officers are no longer allowed to use guns unless fired upon. They have been issued pellet guns and tazers. If illegals throw rocks at them, they are required to back off.

    A Mexican Teen that was Killed By Border Patrol recently was ruled as being Protected By the U.S. Constitution, even though he was a MEXICAN! So now that border patrol officer is able to be sued!

    Illegal immigrant crime is soaring and the police are hamstrung by court orders to not even ask if someone they stop is illegal, and DHS/ICE refuse to respond to their requests about status.

    These illegals are getting free medical screenings while our veterans die waiting for one.

    I have no doubt that this whole "crisis thing is being carefully orchestrated by the obama administration to give enough "reason" to enact his Amnesty desires!

    Our rights as citizens are being ignored. Forget this reform crap, ENFORCE OUR LAWS THAT YOU SWORE TO UPHOLD OBAMA! Citizens' rights demand it. Citizens are NOT second class people in America. ENFORCE THE LAW!

    July 6, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  7. Rufino Varela

    Wow! I can't believe it, I agree with a Democrat!

    July 6, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    This is not a crisis........is a government planned importation. Nothing less. Our own government is breaking our laws.

    July 6, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  9. nintex

    And it's all President Obama's fault, of course. This whole immigration problem started yesterday, according to my tea party friends, and it's just one more thing President Obama (or whatever derogatory name they're calling him this week) is responsible for. Listening to them, which I try hard not to, would make you think the President has done nothing positive for the country in the last six years, because that's what Fox News told them. And they believe it, of course. Just wait until history shows President Obama as one of the best presidents ever, and even then they'll think historians are making it up, because that's not what Rush said.

    July 6, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  10. Amazing

    Instead if pointing fingers, Mr. Cellar needs to get us peers off their do nothing back sides. The President, Congress and the Senate share blame for the problem. The President is limited in what he can do. The real blame needs to be place with us because we continue to send the same idiots (from both sides) to Washington. Doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

    July 6, 2014 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    “Although there has been some recovery from the Great Recession, fewer working-age natives held a job in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000, while the number of immigrants with a job rose 5.7 million above the 2000 level,” CIS announced.
    The impetus for the report is S.744, sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and passed by the Senate.
    If Schumer-Rubio becomes law, according to Congressional Budget Office projections, the number of new legal immigrants allowed into the country will roughly double to 20 million over the next decade, adding to the 40 million immigrants (legal and illegal) already here.
    Rubio and Schumer said the law was needed to prevent “labor shortages” in the U.S.
    “With 58 million working-age natives not working, the Schumer-Rubio bill and similar House measures, which would substantially increase the number of foreign workers allowed in the country, seem entirely disconnected from the realities of the U.S. labor market,” Steven Camarota, co-author of the report and the Center's director of research, said in a statement.

    July 6, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  12. Chris..E.al

    I'll tell you what they should do with those poor illegals ? ( And they are pitiful ) they should bus and set up camps at the White House lawn and in their fancy gated neighborhoods and they should change their diapers with their cash and feed them and keep them up for the rest of their lives and earn that guaranteed vote that is all its about at any cost get them on welfare foodstamp housing project and keep them poor and down with low self esteem and lie to them and get that vote . Sad .

    July 6, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  13. Blake

    Here's the big problem:

    President Obama is following the law when it comes to these illegal immigrant children (really refugees but whatever). The Federal Gov is bound by legislation to not turn away unaccompanied children from Central/South America (these kids are Mexican kids). They must provide them food and shelter and can only deport them AFTER relatives or arrangements with said nations are made. This law was passed and signed under the Bush Administration in 08.

    This is in Congress' court. Speaker Boehner said again only a couple days ago that regardless of the crisis there will be NO new legislation on immigration. Translation: The House Speaker is leaving the federal government out to dry so people blame the President.

    July 6, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  14. warthog6


    Until sympathizers at home are more afraid to demonize protectors than defiled by mobs, our country will continue being overrun, our labor devalued, our jails filled, our schools over-crowded, our streets filled with gangs, and anyone who speaks against it will be be labeled a racist.

    Now the damage being done by Mexican adults has been syndicated to the children from a host of other countries, who being Catholic, believe birth control is how the devil gets inside you.

    We can face up to this like grown-ups, or let our OWN children's futures be destroyed by the alternative.


    July 6, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  15. drake mallard

    Why Are We Protecting the Borders of Other Countries When We Can’t
    Protect Our Own? or We can protect our borders, but the politicians or
    big business choose not to do so! This is supposed to be a nation of
    laws.No illegal immigrants should be given citizenship. We have
    immigration laws that must be followed, and following those laws is the
    pathway to being a legal resident in the U.S

    there is a difference between Illegal and Legal immigration.  All sides of the immigration debate need to recognize that distinction in order to hold productive debate.other vs. Cubans: Is There A Double Standard On Illegal Aliens?seems like a double standard. If you come from Cuba you are granted automatic residency, but if you come from other countries you need to have the proper documentation

    July 6, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  16. Chris..E.al

    Put them on a bus plane and give them to the home nation and send them a bill like the ever rising kind we receive in the mail or at the store on a daily basis due to the dem policies and just plain ignorance . And they claim they are the the party for the poor and they are ? The party that will make you poor if your not already .

    July 6, 2014 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. Malory Archer

    Rick McDaniel

    This is not a crisis........is a government planned importation. Nothing less.


    Got proof? Let's see it.

    July 6, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  18. NameBetty Wiggs

    Stop blaming my President for everything. He has done an awesome job. Stop the hate.

    July 6, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  19. Chris..E.al

    This is the dems reasoning correct me if im wrong but im right and if you try your not being honest with yourself . Zer0 .

    July 6, 2014 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  20. rs

    Malory Archer
    Rick McDaniel

    This is not a crisis........is a government planned importation. Nothing less.


    Got proof? Let's see it.

    He's got none- all he has is the usual mindless conspiracy theories the Right loves so much. Ask him about bigfoot, or little gray aliens, I am sure the government factors into those fantasies too.

    July 6, 2014 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  21. 2_indy1600

    We're all immigrants, and some of our families came over as indentured servants to pay their dues: it was common at the time. Liberals want us to throw words like "illegal" out of the national vocabulary. It's how they attempt to control the narrative. Remember " it depends on what the definition of is is," ? Same playbook, different cause. Always remember the oldest trick in the book: "look over there." It's all they got.

    July 6, 2014 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  22. rs

    I dunno guys, the absolute power of the U.S. does not extent to El Salvador, Ecuador or other Central American nations. The President asked for immigration reform, and the Senate complied with a sane, logical bi-partisan bill. Naturally, the lunatic GOPpers in the house are refusing to vote on it, so the problem, and where the solution lies is crystal clear.

    Once again, the GOP prefers drama to actual shared leadership, and politics over the needs of real people. I believe they think this can make them electable after 6 years of doing absolutely nothing. Sure, 7 years of doing nothing looks LOTS better, right?

    July 6, 2014 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  23. Thomas

    Hey Texas , why is this only now a problem for Rick Perry ?

    Don't blame Obama .

    In the Valley of the Blind the One Eyed Man Is King .

    July 6, 2014 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  24. Ray L.

    Our governor is calling for more "more boots on the ground," to what end. The only way to stem the flow at the border is to shoot the violators as soon as they set in foot in the U. S.. Once they are on our soil our laws take affect.

    Of course this is not an option but what is? Educating the parents before they ship their kids north? Promptly shipping the children back to their home country?

    It is a problem with no clear answer but the left & right must work on it together.

    July 6, 2014 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  25. GotRocks

    So we have a bunch of people still screaming for Amnesty, even though it's DEAD IN THE WATER for this year (you almost suckered us into supporting you guys, but then Cantor got creamed).

    So my question is: just how will Amnesty stop the deluge of kids coming across the border? If you cannot answer that, then you really have NO BUSINESS posting on this article. Go post on an article beating up Republicans or something, as your posts are meaningless here and TOTALLY off-topic.

    ...but if you can explain how passing the Senate Amnesty bill will help here, let's hear it.

    July 6, 2014 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
1 2 3