Earlier this week President Donald Trump announced he would be withdrawing troops from Syria and moving National Guard forces to protect the border, a decision that many Democrats including Rep. Ruben Gallego are against.
“I think it’s a bad use of resources,” the representative for Arizona’s District 7 says. “Illegal border crossings are at an all-time low right now. We have a border that’s most secure that most of our big cities. We have a military that’s being stretched. Taking these funds and putting them on the border does not solve the problem. It only solves one problem and that’s fulfilling the president’s ego.”
Gallego says since the president has been struggling with getting the funds necessary to build a wall, this is his next best bet. It’s how he is able to fulfill a campaign promise.
When it comes to the four main branches of the military, Gallego says the president isn’t allowed to move them to a national border. Even getting the National Guard down there is just a symbolic effort, he says. If Trump wanted to guard the entire length of the border, it would require about 40,000 guardsmen.
Securing the border with the National Guard isn’t something new. Previous administrations have declared similar actions, but it was with the intent to assist the already existing border control.
“If you need more border security, you come to Congress and we work through the civilian aspects of our government, and we fund the border patrol in that matter,” Gallego says. “It helps the president politically because he needs to answer to his very, very xenophobic base who are mad that he hasn’t done anything about the border.”
Gallego says the rules currently in place regarding immigration issues are “very strict.” Hundreds of thousands are deported yearly. The representative says if the president knew more about immigration politics and policies, we wouldn’t be having as many problems that we do.
“We need to have a cleaner immigration law that allows us to keep more people here who should be here and makes it quicker to get people out of here,” Gallego says. “The problem with that is the president doesn’t want to work with us, he doesn’t want a bipartisan compromise. Every time we’ve approached him about that he has rejected it.”
Trump has also talked about getting NAFTA involved in getting the wall built. Getting trade involved with immigration flows is something that can throw off the world balance, Gallego says.
“We need to take care of our borders,” Gallego says. “We need to pass legislation that actually does that and also at the same time deals with the many people who are here undocumented. Trying to make Mexico pay for your stupid campaign promise is not good policy, especially when right now Mexico is going through its own election.”
TED SIMONS: CONGRESSMAN THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US WE APPRECIATE IT THE USE OF THE MILITARY ON THE BORDER YOUR THOUGHTS.
REPRESENTATIVE RUBEN GALLEGO: I THINK ONE IT'S JUST A BAD USE OF RESOURCES, BORDER CROSSINGS ILLEGAL BORDER CROSSINGS ARE AT AN ALL-TIME LOW RIGHT NOW. WE HAVE YOU KNOW A BORDER THAT IS MORE SECURE THAN MOST OF OUR BIG CITIES AND WE HAVE A MILITARY THAT IS STRETCHED AND A BUDGET THAT IS STRETCHED. TAKING THESE FUNDS AND PUTTING THEM ON THE BORDER DOES NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM AND IT SOLVES ONE PROBLEM WHICH IS FULFILLING THE PRESIDENT'S EGO. HE CAN'T GET THE BORDER WALL BUILT BECAUSE IT'S NOT POPULAR AND USE THE ARMY, THE MILITARY IN GENERAL, NATIONAL GUARD IN THIS CASE BASICALLY TO FILL A CAMPAIGN PROMISE.
TED SIMONS: IS IT THE NATIONAL GUARD BECAUSE INITIAL REPORTS WERE THAT HE IS CONSIDERING ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY, HE CAN'T DO THAT, CAN HE?
REPRESENTATIVE RUBEN GALLEGO: UNLESS HE IS GOING TO GO AND CHANGE SOME STANDARD LAWS THAT HAS ESSENTIALLY BAN THE MILITARY FROM DOING THIS I DONE BELIEVE HE CAN DO IT. WHAT HE CAN DO IS NATIONALIZE THE NATIONAL GUARD AND PAY FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FUND BUT IT'S A BAD USE OF FUNDS, IF YOU USE THE NATIONAL GUARD THEY ARE LIMITED IN WHAT THEY ARE ALLOWED TO DO AND WE HAVE A LONG BORDER WHY ARE YOU GOING TO USE THIS BASICALLY ESSENTIALLY JUST TO DO A SYMBOLIC EFFORT BECAUSE THE BORDER IS SO LONG THAT YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO ACTIVATE ESSENTIALLY MORE THAN MAYBE 30 - 40,000 NATURAL GUARDS TO GET ANY TYPE OF LEVEL OF SECURITY QUOTE UNQUOTE, AND NOT ALLOWED TO ARREST OR SHOOT PEOPLE OR ANYTHING OF THAT NATURE.
TED SIMONS: OBAMA HAD 1600 AND PRESIDENT BUSH I THINK HAD 6,000 BACK IN THE DAY. WHAT DID THEY DO, DID THEY HELP THE BORDER PATROL, AND WERE THEY IN THE WAY OF THE BORDER PATROL HOW DID THAT WORK?
REPRESENTATIVE RUBEN GALLEGO: FOR DIFFERENT ADMINISTRATIONS AND THROUGHOUT THEY HAVE BEEN USING DIFFERENT WAYS BUT MOSTLY ASSISTANCE OF BORDER PATROL AND WE HAVE A BIG BORDER PATROL PRESENCE IN THE STATE AS WELL AS THE COUNTRY THE LARGEST POLICE FORCES NOT JUST IN THIS COUNTRY BUT IN THE WORLD AND ESSENTIALLY UNDER BUSH AND UNDER OBAMA THEY WERE THERE TO ASSIST THEM SO THEY WERE YOU KNOW DOING MORE YOU KNOW OBSERVING, THEY WERE TRACKING AND THEY NEVER ARRESTED ANYBODY, THEY DID NOT CHASE ANYBODY, THEY WERE NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE WEAPONS, THESE KINDS OF THINGS YOU KNOW BASICALLY WHAT IS THERE TO GIVE BORDER PATROL A LITTLE MORE UMPH AND MORE DEPTH WHEN IT COMES TO WHAT WE CAN DO. SINCE THEN WE INCREASED MASSIVELY THE BORDER PATROL. IT FUNDED A LOT MORE, IT HAS MORE PERSONNEL SO ADDING YOU KNOW NATIONAL GUARDSMEN IS NOT GOING TO ACTUALLY HELP THAT SITUATION
TED SIMONS: THE PRESIDENT SAYS THIS MOVE IS NEEDED TO SECURE THE BORDER. YOUR THOUGHTS
REPRESENTATIVE RUBEN GALLEGO: IF YOU NEED MORE BORDER SECURITY YOU COME TO CONGRESS AND WE WORK THROUGH THE CIVILIAN ASPECTS OF OUR GOVERNMENT AND WE FUND THE BORDER PATROL IN THAT MANNER. WHEN YOU'RE DOING THIS THROUGH THE DEFENSE BUDGET YOU ARE ESSENTIALLY SAYING THAT WE HAVE TO NOW START TAKING MONEY FROM WHAT ARE BIG PROGRAMS TO FUND A CIVILIAN PORTION OF OUR COUNTRY'S ASSETS, THAT IS NOT HOW YOU GOVERN, IT'S A DANGEROUS SLIPPERY SLOPE AND I THINK AT THE END OF THE DAY IT'S NOT GOING TO DO WHAT WE THINK THE PRESIDENT THINKS IT WILL DO BUT WHAT IT DOES DO IS ESSENTIALLY HELP HIM POLITICALLY SO HE HAS TO ANSWER TO HIS BASE WHO ARE MAD AT HIM ANYTHING ABOUT QUOTE UNQUOTE THE BORDER.
TED SIMONS: PRESIDENT SAYS CONGRESS, YOU, NEED TO TOUGHEN IMMIGRATION AND HE CALLED IMMIGRATION LAWS WITH WEAK BORDER LAWS WEAK AND PATHETIC WERE HIS WORDS, YOUR RESPONSE.
REPRESENTATIVE RUBEN GALLEGO: FIRST OF ALL THE PRESIDENT HAS ZERO CLUE WHAT HE IS TALKING ABOUT, IF YOU SEEN TIME AND TIME AGAIN HE KNOWS LITTLE ABOUT IMMIGRATION POLITICS OR POLICIES INCLUDING HIS STAFF, OUR INTERACTION WITH CHIEF OF STAFF KELLY SHOWS HE HAS NO CONCEPT WHEN IT COMES TO IMMIGRATION WHAT THE LAWS ARE CURRENTLY OF THE LAND AND HE IS GETTING MOST OF HIS NEWS FROM RADICAL RIGHT WING NEWSPAPERS WHO DON'T REALLY ARE EITHER PUSHING THE AGENDA THAT HE ACCEPTS OR WANTS TO ACCEPT. OUR LAWS ARE VERY STRICT AS IT IS RIGHT NOW, WE HAVE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE GETTING DEPORTED EVERY YEAR I THINK ACTUALLY SOMETIMES IT GOES UP TO A MILLION. AND WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS ACTUALLY HAVE A CLEANER IMMIGRATION LAW WHICH ALLOWS US TO KEEP MORE PEOPLE HERE THAT SHOULD BE HERE AND MAKES IT QUICKER FOR US TO GET PEOPLE OUT OF HERE THE PROBLEM IS THE PRESIDENT DOESN'T WANT TO WORK WITH US AND NOT A BIPARTISAN COMPROMISE AND HE HAS REJECTED IT.
TED SIMONS: IT ALSO SOUNDS LIKE THE PRESIDENT IS WILLING TO PUT NAFTA INTO PLAY IN ALL THIS IN TERMS OF NEGOTIATING WITH MEXICO TO PAY FOR BUILDING THE WALL OR DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IMMIGRATION DOES THAT MAKE SENSE TO YOU?
REPRESENTATIVE RUBEN GALLEGO: DOESN'T REALLY MAKE SENSE TO ME BECAUSE MOST OF OUR ILLEGAL BORDER CROSSINGS ARE NOT COMING FROM MEXICO ANY MORE. NUMBER TWO TRADE SHOULD NOT BE TIED TO IMMIGRATION FLOWS. YOU START DOING THAT YOU ARE GOING TO GET INTO A BAD PRECEDENT AND ESSENTIALLY THROW OFF A LOT THAT WILL BOUNCE WHEN IT COMES TO TRADE IN GENERAL. WE NEED TO TAKE CARE OF OUR BORDERS, WE NEED TO PASS LEGISLATION THAT ACTUALLY DOES THAT AND ALSO AT THE SAME TIME DEALS WITH THE PEOPLE UNDOCUMENTED. TRYING TO MAKE MEXICO PAY FOR YOUR STUPID CAMPAIGN PROMISE IS NOT GOOD POLICY ESPECIALLY BECAUSE MEXICO IS GOING THROUGH THEIR OWN ELECTION
TED SIMONS: WHAT ABOUT TELLING HONDURUS THAT FOREIGN AID COULD BE IN JEOPARDY IF YOU SEND PEOPLE FROM MEXICO COMING INTO AMERICA?
REPRESENTATIVE RUBEN GALLEGO: NO COUNTRY UNLIKE WHAT THE PRESIDENT THINKS NO COUNTRY WANTS CITIZENS TO LEAVE AND HAVE MILITARY PERSONNEL IN HONDURAS TO STABILIZE THE GOVERNMENT AND THE BOOING TACTICS DOES NOT HELP GET MORE COOPERATION. ACTUALLY HURTS US MORE AND PROVIDING ASSISTANCE TO STABILIZE THE ECONOMY AND MORE SECURITY WILL ENCOURAGE MORE PEOPLE TO STAY HERE BUT HUMAN BEINGS ARE ALWAYS GOING TO LOOK FOR SAFETY AND THEY WILL AND SAFETY AND SOME TYPE OF FUTURE. THEY WILL ALWAYS LOOK PAST THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT TO FIND THAT
TED SIMONS: WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF AND THE PRESIDENT REFERRED TO THIS, HE REFERRED TO THIS NUMEROUS TIMES I KNOW ON SOME BROADCASTS OUTLETS AROUND THE COUNTRY THIS CARAVAN OF HONDURAS MIGRANTS MAKING THEIR WAY UP THROUGH MEXICO AND THE CONCERN IS I GUESS GET TO THE US. BORDER I'M NOT QUITE SURE ABOUT THAT CONCERN BUT THERE IS THIS CARAVAN OF MIGRANTS THE PRESIDENT KEEPS REFERRING TO.
REPRESENTATIVE RUBEN GALLEGO: FIRST OF ALL THE CARAVAN OF MIGRANTS ARE THE THREAT. THEY ARE PROBABLY THE DUMBEST MIGRANTS IN THE WORLD BECAUSE THEY ARE ADVERTISING HOW TO GET IN THE UNITED STATES AND THEN THEY ARE GOING TO ALSO SHOULD THEY GET TO THE BORDER WHICH AT THIS POINT I THINK THEY ARE NOW STOPPED IN A CITY THAT IS A THOUSAND MILES AWAY FROM THE BORDER AND I DON'T BELIEVE THEY ARE GOING TO MAKE IT BUT SHOULD THEY SOMEHOW MAKE IT THEY WILL LITERALLY TURN THEMSELVES IN RIGHT. SO ESSENTIALLY WHAT THE PRESIDENT JUST DID IS GIVE THIS ACTIVIST GROUP A LOT OF PR BECAUSE THIS HAPPENS EVERY YEAR.
TED SIMONS: IT'S A PROTEST MOVEMENT IS IT NOT?
REPRESENTATIVE RUBEN GALLEGO: THEY DO THIS EVERY YEAR AND GAVE THEM FREE PR AND THE PRESIDENT WILL SETTLE FOR PROPAGANDA PUSHED BY ONE OF HIS CONSERVATIVE FAVORITE CHANNELS AND THEM AMPED UP HIS FEAR AND HE IS AMPING UP THE FEAR OF THE CARAVAN OF PEOPLE THE PRESIDENT SHOULD BE FOCUSING ON THE SECURITY OF THE COUNTRY. PR STUNTS ARE NOT AND RUSSIA INVOLVING ITSELF IN OUR ELECTION AND HACKING OUR NUCLEAR POWER PLANT IS AN ACTUAL THREAT BUT YOU DON'T SEE HIM FREAKING OUT ABOUT THAT.
TED SIMONS: LAST QUESTION, BOTTOM LINE, AND DO YOU TAKE THE PRESIDENT'S WORDS SERIOUSLY?
REPRESENTATIVE RUBEN GALLEGO: NO. BUT THE PROBLEM IS THAT BECAUSE I DON'T TAKE HIS WORDS SERIOUSLY OTHER COUNTRIES DON'T TAKE HIS WORDS SERIOUSLY, NOBODY CAN PREDICT WHAT HE IS GOING TO DO. IT REALLY DIMINISHES OUR STATUS AROUND THE WORLD AND DIMINISHES US AS A DEMOCRACY AND DIFFICULT FOR ME TO DEAL BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW WHAT HE IS GOING TO DO OR SAY IF HE DOES SAY IT CAN HE BACK IT UP. I HAVE SEEN THE PRESIDENT ACTUALLY SAY THINGS TO US THAT HE IS GOING TO DO THIS AND STICK WITH US IN TERMS OF GETTING THINGS DONE AND HE WILL FLIP FLOP LATER. HE MOCKED THE SENATOR FOR THE NRA AND THEN IS AFRAID OF THE NRA, HE SAYS IN A PUBLIC PRESS CONFERENCE SEND ME ANY IMMIGRATION BILL I'LL SIGN IT AND TAKE THE HEAT THEN HE REJECTS ALL IMMIGRATION BILLS, HE IS REALLY UNSTABLE WHEN IT COMES TO HIS MODEL OF LEADERSHIP
TED SIMONS: CONGRESSMAN RUBEN GALLEGO THANKS FOR JOINING US.
REPRESENTATIVE RUBEN GALLEGO: THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.
Rep. Ruben Gallego: (D) Arizona District 7