3:16 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you, Secretary Nielsen. And please be seated. Be comfortable.
Governor Ducey, Director Vitiello, Commissioner McAleenan, distinguished members of Congress, to all the leaders from state and local level, and especially to all of you who wear the uniform and serve on the front lines of law enforcement and homeland security, to your families, and especially to the precious families of our fallen officers: It is my great honor to join you here today as we pay tribute to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection. You are heroes all. (Applause.) It’s true. It’s true.
President Trump convened this gathering to pay a debt of gratitude to all of you who have stepped up to secure our borders and enforce our laws.
I’ve seen firsthand your courage and your selflessness. This year I had the privilege to meet with many ICE and CBP officers at the Hidalgo Port of Entry, in McAllen, Texas; at El Centro Station, in Imperial, Florida [California]; and even at ICE headquarters, not far from here, in our nation’s capital.
I know that you make an extraordinary difference in the life of our nation and for the safety and security of our people. Last year, CBP accounted for more than 310,000 apprehensions at our borders, including more than 8,100 dangerous criminals. And thanks to your efforts, our nation refuses entry to 10 known or suspected terrorists every single day. Job well done. (Applause.)
And at a time of unprecedented criticism of ICE, the American people deserve to know that last year alone, ICE arrested more than 127,000 criminal illegal immigrants, including nearly 5,000 gang members. And ICE rescued nearly 1,000 victims of child exploitation from their captors. (Applause.)
To all of the members of law enforcement here, be confident that you have the support of the overwhelming majority of the American people. And also be confident in this: You have a champion in President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
Working with members of Congress, this President has enacted the largest increase in border security funding in nearly 10 years. He’s increased funding for ICE and CBP by nearly $3 billion. And we’ve already started to build that wall on the southern border.
As we speak, President Trump is working with the Congress to provide additional funding and to close dangerous loopholes that too often serve as a magnet of vulnerable families, drawing them to our southern border. And as President Trump will again make clear today, in this White House, we are with you and we will never stop fighting to give you the resources and the respect that you deserve.
So to the heroes of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection, you have our support and our gratitude. You embody the best of America. And you inspire the American people every day.
And as you continue your courageous service, know also not only do you have our support and our gratitude, but you have our prayers, and, I know, the prayers of the American people; that as you secure our borders and enforce our laws, we’ll continue to pray that “no harm will [ever] overtake you…that He will guard you in all your ways.”
With your continued dedication and service, with the support of these members of Congress, with leaders at the state and local level, and with President Donald Trump in the White House, I know we will make America safe again. And we’ll have all of you to thank.
So thank you. God bless you. (Applause.) And God bless America.
3:21 P.M. EDT