Hurd Calls on President to Appoint Special Representative to Stop the Flow of Migrants Heading North

WASHINGTON, DC — In remarks Wednesday morning before a breakfast meeting of The Ripon Society, U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (TX-23) called on the President to appoint a Special Representative to work with the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and to stop the flow of families and unaccompanied children heading north.

“You have to imagine,” the Texas lawmaker stated, “how bad is your situation that you would put your child in a coyote’s hand and have them go on a perilous 4,000 mile journey to meet a distant relative somewhere else?  That’s how bad the situation is in those countries.  So the way we’re going to solve this long term is we have to address the violence and lack of economic opportunities in those three countries.  And the way we do that is to establish a Special Representative for the Golden Triangle – a senior diplomat.

“We have a Special Representative dealing with the Taliban in Afghanistan and negotiating there.  We should be doing the same thing when it comes to the Northern Triangle.  That senior diplomat should be working with those three countries as well as the rest of the western hemisphere, because this is not just a U.S. and Mexico problem.  It’s a problem for the entire western hemisphere and the entire western hemisphere needs to be engaged.”

“We have a Special Representative dealing with the Taliban in Afghanistan and negotiating there. We should be doing the same thing when it comes to the Northern Triangle.”

Hurd represents the 23rd District of Texas, which includes an 820-mile stretch of the southern border – more of the border than any other District in Congress.  A former intelligence officer who spent nearly a decade working for the CIA, he has made solving the immigration crisis one of his top priorities since his election to the House in 2014, and has put forward a number of commonsense proposals to achieve that goal.  In addition to appointing a Special Representative to the Golden Triangle, those proposals also include making sure that those who are applying for asylum actually need it, and are not using it as an excuse to get into the United States.

“Why are they treating everybody like an asylum seeker?” Hurd asked.  “Because what’s been happening is after five days in custody, you have somebody that came from Tegucigalpa in a room with 200 people.  And those 200 people start sharing the word, ‘Hey, say you have a credible fear of going back home.  Then they have to treat you like an asylum seeker.’  Well, the way the law is written, the person adjudicating whether someone should go through the system for asylum or not – you can take the credibility of the individual into your decision. If 400 people are using the exact same story, guess what?  That’s called a fabrication.”

“Last month alone, 144,000 people came in and surrendered to Border Patrol. That’s one month. All of last year, we apprehended 400,000 people. As of the end of May, 491,000 people have been captured coming into this country. Those are insane numbers.”

Hurd pointed to the increased sophistication of human smugglers as one of the reasons these numbers have gotten out of hand.

“Kingpin human smugglers have gotten smart and improved their infrastructure to move people from point A to point B,” he said.  “It is not easy to get from Tegucigalpa to El Paso. Before, a trip was taking about 21 days and costing $7,000.  You gave a smuggler $7,000 and you got three tries. Why were you given three tries? Because most of the time you were getting caught and being deported. Now, with everybody being accepted as an asylum seeker, we’re making the job of the human smugglers easier because their success rate is 100%.”

Noting that smugglers rely on cell phones, move people on public busses, and operate more or less out in the open, Hurd also said U.S. intelligence agencies need to step in and play a greater role in getting the problem under control.

“DHS is not an international intelligence organization,” the former intelligence officer stated matter-of-factly.  “They should be collecting and they should be debriefing people who are coming in here illegally to get that information, and that should be passed to the NSA, CIA, FBI, in order to do the collection. But ultimately, the CIA should be working with our allies in those regions to stop this problem in those countries.”

Hurd closed his remarks by recounting an experience he had while serving in the CIA.  It was an experience, he said, which reinforced to him the importance of America’s role as a global leader, and one which reminds him today why it is important for America to be a good ally around the world.

The experience occurred in Pakistan.  After a devastating earthquake struck the country in 2005, he was dispatched by helicopter to Kashmir to help evacuate a village that had been destroyed by the quake.

“There was this little girl about six or seven years old who lost both her mother and father,” he recounted.  “She sees this whole scene and she’s crying, she’s screaming, she’s scared. This village elder picks this little girl up and hands her to me.  I hold her as tight as I can, and she’s crying, she’s upset. Halfway through the trip, she calms down and finally relaxes.  We get to our location, opened the bay doors of the helicopter, and people start piling off.

“I put the little girl down, she takes a couple of steps, spins around, comes back and gives me the biggest hug I’ve ever gotten in my life. She goes over to the helicopter crew and approaches the guy who she probably thought was from outer space, and kisses him on the hand.  He pats her on the head and smiles real big, gives her a thumbs up. She returns the gesture, smiles, and then runs away. This little girl’s face is seared into my brain because it’s an example. What we did that day is an example of how the U.S. government is the only country in the world that has the resources and the willingness to help people – even if they’re 7,000 miles away.

“The United States of America is the only country that has achieved its position in the world by what we have given, not what we have taken. The only way that we’re going to continue to keep the position that we’re in is if we continue to strengthen our allies, not wreck those relationships. Because all of these problems that we’re dealing with, we cannot solve them alone.  We need allies. I think that’s what we learned from the celebration at D-Day a couple of days ago.  Strengthening those alliances is the way we’re going to solve these future problems. That’s the mindset we should be in when it comes to dealing with this problem we have on the border. That’s the kind of perspective I’m going to try to bring.”

To view Hurd’s remarks before The Ripon Society’s breakfast discussion Wednesday morning, please click on the links below:

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 — Ripon, Wisconsin.  One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success.  These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.