United States Custom House
THE VICE PRESIDENT: First off, on behalf of the President of the United States and the American people, thank you for your service. Thank you for what you do here in Baltimore. Thank you for what you do for our country.
Homeland Security, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, each and every day makes this city, this state, this nation safer. And we’re grateful for it.
We recognize that you’re facing unprecedented challenges from a security perspective — whether it be MS-13, whether it be the flow of illegal drugs, whether it be human trafficking. And Homeland Security, and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, is stepping up every day and saving lives and protecting the people of Maryland and protecting the people of this country. And we’re all truly grateful for the work that you’re doing here.
Today, our administration is submitting a supplemental budgetary request because we know the challenges that this agency is facing not just in securing our border, but enforcing our laws throughout this country.
And I want to assure you that this President is going to continue to work with members of Congress, like Congressman Andy Harris, to make sure that you have the resources and the support that you need to accomplish your mission — whether that be saving people from human trafficking, whether it be sparing families the scourge of narcotics, drug abuse, addiction, and overdose, or whether it be stopping the violence of MS-13 and other gangs that are flowing into our country.
So, we thank you. And I want to assure you that we’re going to continue to fight for you to have the support that you need to accomplish your mission. But we’re grateful for your leadership and grateful for the support here.
We have a crisis on our southern border. And the reality is, what’s happening on our southern border — where, in the month of March, more than 100,000 people came into our country illegally — is not just affecting states along our southern border, as evidenced here with the flow of narcotics and human trafficking and violent criminals. What is happening at our southern border is affecting communities all across the United States of America.
And since early in this administration, President Trump has taken decisive action to address the crisis of illegal immigration in this country and to secure our border.
The President, earlier this year, declared a national emergency to secure our border. We’re in the process of building upwards to 400 miles of new border wall.
But the President and I understand that the work that you do every day also requires not only infrastructure on our southern border, but it requires us to close the loopholes in our laws that human traffickers and drug cartels are using to entice vulnerable families to make the long and dangerous journey to come north to our border.
I’m truly grateful for Congressman Harris’s support and the support of Republicans in the Congress. But the time has come for Democrats in Congress to set politics aside, to recognize the undeniable truth that we have a humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border, and come together and act to amend our laws to remove the loopholes that human traffickers and drug cartels use to entice vulnerable families to take the long and dangerous journey north.
We are calling on the Congress to act. We have a broken border. We have a broken immigration system. And it is absolutely essential that we end catch and release, that we change the laws in a manner that allow us to return people to their countries of origin when those countries are in Central and South America, and more importantly, that we allow Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security investigations then to be able to focus on individuals that really represent a threat to our families and our communities.
I mean, this mass migration — we’re on track this year for more than a million people to come across the southern border of the United States of America, exploiting loopholes in our laws. And as all of that happens, and as our Customs and Border Patrol, and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement deal with this unprecedented flow — numbers of which we haven’t seen for more than a decade — the reality is that the drug traffickers, the people moving fentanyl and other dangerous drugs into our country, the people that are exploiting children through human trafficking in our country, and the gang members that are exploiting that flow and the tremendous pressure on our system to bring more crime and more danger into our communities.
So it’s — the President has done his job. All of you are doing your job. It’s time for Congress to do their job. It’s time for Democrats in Congress to sit down with this President, to sit down with Republicans of the Congress to close the loopholes that are being exploited at our southern border and bring the security and humanitarian crisis to an end.
Q What is your message for the people of Venezuela? Changing the subject, please, sir.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We’re watching the developments in Venezuela with great interest.
As we said yesterday, America stands with the only legitimate President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó. We stand with the National Assembly. We stand with freedom-loving people in Venezuela.
It is heartening to see tens of thousands taking to the streets in Venezuela today to stand up for their libertad. And we want them to know: Estamos con ustedes — that we are with you; that we stand with them; and that America will continue to stand with President Juan Guaidó, with freedom-loving people in Venezuela, until their liberty and the rule of law and their democracy is restored.
Nicolás Maduro must go. Nicolás Maduro has no legitimate claim to power. And more than 50 nations around the world have joined the United States in recognizing Juan Guaidó as hte legitimate President of Venezuela.
The crisis that has embroiled that country has driven more than 3 million people to exodus that country, where 90 percent of the people of Venezuela are living in poverty. This crisis must end, but it must end through the restoration of democracy and it must end with Nicolás Maduro recognizing that his time is over.
Q Do you think that change is possible without military action?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: The United States stands with President Guaidó. We hope for a peaceful transition of power to the duly elected government of Venezuela.
But President Trump has made it clear that all options are on the table. And the people of Venezuela are suffering. Venezuela is a failed state. And failed states know no boundaries.
And what is happening in Venezuela is affecting the region and affecting the United States of America. And so we reserve all options. But we continue to — we continue to be hopeful that as the people take to the streets to stand for liberty in Venezuela, that they will know with confidence that the American people stand with them and we will continue to stand with them until their freedom is restored.
Q And when will the — what will the United States —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all.