Here’s what President Donald Trump had to say about immigration during a Cabinet meeting earlier today. The excerpts were pulled from a transcript distributed by the White House.
My administration is also acting swiftly to address the illegal immigration crisis on the southern border. Loopholes in our immigration laws, all supported by extremist, open-border Democrats — and that’s what they are. They’re extremist, open-border Democrats. If you look at Nancy Pelosi and you look at Chuck Schumer, you’ll see tapes where they wanted to have borders — they needed borders for security — just a short while ago. A number of years ago, I see Chuck Schumer — “We must have borders.” Hillary Clinton — “We must have borders. If people penetrate our borders, we must get them out of our country.” Now, all of a sudden, they’re big open-border people. It’s a whole big con job. In the meantime, people are suffering because of the Democrats.
So we’ve created, and they’ve created, and they’ve let it happen — a massive child-smuggling industry. That’s exactly what it’s become. Traffickers — if you think about this — human traffickers are making a fortune. It’s a disgrace.
These loopholes force the release of alien families and minors into the country when they illegally cross the border. Since 2014 alone, nearly 200,000 unaccompanied alien minors have been released into the United States as a result of Democrat-backed loopholes, including catch-and-release, which is one of the worst. You catch them, and then you release them. Might as well save your time. Don’t bother catching them. And this is what we’re stuck with. They’re the worst immigration laws in the history of the world. The whole world is laughing at the United States, and they have been for years.
These alien minors were separated and sent all the way up here alone. But they really came up with coyotes. You know what a coyote is. Not good. These are not good people. They were sent up here with human traffickers because the Democrat-supported policies have allowed this to happen.
Democrats also refuse to fund the personnel, the bed space, the resources that we need to house the minors. Now, they want us to take care of the minors, and that’s fine. But they don’t want to give us the money to take care of them. Because the worse everything looks, they think, the better they’re going to do, with respect to the blue wave. Which is turning out, frankly, to be a red wave if you look at the polls. I think we’re going to have a red wave, not a blue wave.
So they want us to take care of bed space, and resources, and personnel, and take everybody. And, you know, like, let’s run the most luxurious hotel in the world for everybody. But they don’t want to give us the money. So you could ask them about that.
We have to house these minors, and we have to house them safely. And frankly, we have to house them. And we should be taking good care of them, and then we should return them back home. That’s what we have to do.
But every time we ask for resources, the Democrats say no. They say no to everything. They’re obstructionists. Because they think that’s good, politically. I think it’s bad, politically. For them, I think it’s bad, politically. We’ll see.
In addition, Democrat and court-ordered loopholes prevent family detention and lead to family separation, no matter how you cut it. I signed a very good executive order yesterday, but that’s only limited — no matter how you cut it, it leads to separation ultimately. I’m directing HHS, DHS, and DOJ to work together to keep illegal immigrant families together during the immigration process and to reunite these previously separated groups.
But the only real solution is for Congress to close the catch-and-release loopholes that have fueled the child smuggling industry. The Democrats are causing tremendous damage, and destruction, and lives by not doing something about this. And they know that. They know that better than anybody up there with a pen.
If we don’t close these loopholes, there is no amount of money or personnel in the world to address the crisis. Very serious crisis. Been going on so long. This isn’t Trump administration. You look back at 2014, during the Obama administration, they have pictures that were so bad. They had a judge that said it was inhumane the way they were treating children.
Take a look at some of the court rulings against the Obama administration. They talked about inhumane treatment. I read them; I looked at them. They’re all over the place. Inhumane treatment. They were treating them terribly. We have a situation where some of these places, they’re really running them well. And I give a lot of credit to Secretary Nielsen and all of the people that have worked this. It’s the nicest that people have seen. But it’s still something that shouldn’t be taking place.
My wife, our First Lady, is down now at the border because it really bothered her to be looking at this and to seeing it, as it bothered me, as it bothered everybody at this table. We’re all bothered by it. But we need two to tango. We have 51 votes in the Senate. We need 60, unfortunately, because we have the ridiculous filibuster rule. So we need 60.
And I think I’ll get four or five or six from senators, frankly, running in states where I won by 25, 30, 40 points with Mike. And I think we’ll get six senators, maybe we’ll get seven senators. That still doesn’t get us to 60. So there’s nothing you can do to get there. And people don’t understand that. When we have a majority in the Senate, we have a majority by one, but we need ten votes.
So we need 10 — essentially, we need 10 Democrats. Not going to get them. They’re told by Schumer and Pelosi, “Don’t do it because we want to see if we can pick up seats.” They don’t care about the children. They don’t care about the injury. They don’t care about the problems. They don’t care about anything. All they do is say, “Obstruct, and let’s see how we do.” Because they have no policies that are any good. They’re not good politicians. They got nothing going. All they’re good at is obstructing.
And they generally stick together. I respect them for that. That’s about it. Their policies stink. They’re no good. They have no ideas. They have no nothing — the Democrats. All they can do is obstruct, and stay together, and vote against, and make it impossible to take care of children and families and to take care of immigration.
We should be able to make an immigration bill that can really solve the problem, not just — this is one aspect of it. This is one very important but small aspect of it. We should be able to do a bill. I’d invite them to come over to the White House anytime they want. This afternoon would be good. After the Cabinet meeting would be good. They are invited, officially. I’ll let you do the inviting. Let the press do the inviting.
But we have to do something about immigration in this country. For 50 years, and long before that, it was a disaster. But over the last 20, 25 years, it’s gotten worse. Every time they write a rule or regulation, it makes it worse, not better. We can solve this problem.
We have to hire thousands of judges. No country in the world is hiring judges like that. They hire border people that — you can’t come into the country. Mexico, by the way, is doing nothing for us. Nothing. They have the strongest immigration laws. They can do whatever they want. They can keep people out of Mexico. You have a 2,000-mile journey up Mexico. They walk through Mexico like it’s walking through Central Park. It’s ridiculous. Mexico does nothing for us.
So then when people say, “Why are you being so tough with NAFTA?” And I am being tough because we — it’s a terrible deal for the United States. Mexico is making $100 billion a year off us and the horrible NAFTA deal. And I am being tough. One of the reasons I’m being tough is because they do nothing for us at the border. They encourage people, frankly, to walk through Mexico and go into the United States because they’re drug traffickers, they’re human traffickers, they’re coyotes. I mean, we’re getting some real beauties.
Mexico is doing nothing for us except taking our money and sending us drugs. They’re doing nothing. They could solve this problem in two minutes; you wouldn’t even have to do anything. But they don’t do it. They talk a good game, but they don’t do it. So we’ll see how that all comes out. It’ll be very interesting to see.
Later, Trump is asked about immigration:
THE PRESIDENT: They got to get together and do something. Honestly, they have to get together. The question is: What’s my message to lawmakers, having to do with immigration? They’ve got to get together and do something. This has been going on for decades. And they have to sit down — I’ll be — certainly, I’m willing to do it. I just told you, I’ll invite Senator Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. They can come over. They can bring whoever they want. But the lawmakers have to sit down and they have to do something because our country cannot continue to run like this.
We can’t have open borders. You have to have borders. You don’t have a country without borders. They have to be enforced. It has to be a strict enforcement. At the same time, we want people to come into our country. We need them. We have many companies, right now, moving back into the United States. They need workers. We have 3.8 percent unemployment. They need workers. We have to have them come in.
You know, I’m saying, I want people to come in. They have to come in through a merit system. But we can have a lot of people come into our country through the merit system so they can help these companies that are looking so hard for people to make the company work.
But the — in a very, very simple way, Congress has to get together, get their act together. Democrats and Republicans. They have to come up with a solution. I have ideas, they have ideas. We can put them together very easily.
There’s so much hatred. There’s so much — I mean, honestly, I’m not saying this — I mean, there’s a lot of false reporting, a lot of misreporting. There’s also a lot of great reporting. But Congress has to come together and this is the best time to do it.
Right now, I think is the best time I’ve seen for people that really are well-meaning. Now, unfortunately, we have an election coming up in a few months and, you know, I guess they’re looking at it and we’re looking at it and maybe we have to just sort of put on the blinders when it comes to doing that.
But Congress has to get together and we have to do something on immigration. It’s very important. We have to change almost everything that’s been done in the past. It’s ridiculous. We are being laughed at as a country because of our bad immigration policies. And you know, we’re a young administration. This has been going on for 50 years, 60 years, 70 years. But it’s gotten worse over the last 20 because laws have been so complex and so ridiculous.
We really don’t have a law. We have laws that don’t allow you to do what you’re supposed to be doing. And we also want to keep it in a very humane way. We want to take care of people. If we don’t take them in, we have to help. And we also need help from Mexico. Mexico has not helped us, and we need help from Mexico. So that’s a long answer, but I also appreciate the great job you’ve done.
Q Thank you very much, Mr. President.
Q What about the kids who were already separated?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes?
Q What about the kids who are already separated from their parents?
THE PRESIDENT: Say it. I can’t hear you.
Q The kids who are already separated from their parents.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we want to put them together. We don’t want to have people — we don’t want to have children separated from their parents.
You have to understand, you gave an example yesterday of 12,000 children. Of the 12,000, 10,000 came up either alone — they weren’t necessarily young children, but either alone or they came up with traffickers and coyotes. And these coyotes are bad dudes. But they came up with other people, brought them up. And they used them. They’re using these children. That’s 10,000 out of the 12. Of the 2,000, a lot of the people, well, they came in with their children. This is their third, fourth, fifth time trying to come into our country.
So this is not a perfect situation, this is a very bad — now, port of entry — if you go to a port of entry, it works out very nicely. They’ve been doing a very good job. But they don’t want to come in through the port of entry. That’s called “doing it the legal way.” But many of the people in the 2,000 category, you’re talking about 2,000 children, those are people that have tried to come into our country many times, the same way. They don’t want to go into the port of entry. Usually, that’s for a very bad reason. Why don’t they want to go in legally? So you have to ask yourself that question.
So you have a situation that is ripe for Congress to get together and come up with a solution. And I am ready, willing, and able to help. And ready, willing, and able to take this pen right here and sign very quickly.
Q Zero tolerance still exists, though? Or are you suspending zero tolerance?
THE PRESIDENT: If you took zero tolerance away, you would be overrun as a country. You’d have millions of people pouring through our border. If you took zero tolerance away, everybody would come, right now. They’d be getting their little belongings, unfortunately, and they would be heading up. You would be — you would have a run on this country the likes of which nobody’s ever seen.
So we have to have strong borders. Frankly, the wall, in terms of drugs, in terms of keeping certain people out that we don’t want in this county, the wall is imperative. We have to have the wall. We started the wall. We have $1.6 billion. We’re fixing tremendous amounts of wall where it’s been overrun. But we have to come up with a solution.
I would consider it, whether it’s North Korea, whether it’s so many other things. We have a lot of things. Look, I’ve been given a very tough hand. Because I came up here, we had an economy that was going down. We had an Iran problem. We had a Middle East problem. Take a look at what was going on in the Middle East. It’s a lot better now. You’re a lot smoother right now than anything you heard over the last eight years.
But we were given a lot of bad cards. One of the bad cards, we were given this immigration mess. And it was made worse by all of the different contradicting and the contradicting laws that have been passed.
So we’re going to work very hard with Mike Pence and with everybody else in this room. We’re going to work very hard to see if we can solve the immigration problem.
But we need Democrats to be able to do it. If they’re going to obstruct, it can’t be done because the Republicans don’t have the votes.
Now, I think we’re going to win additional Senate seats. That will help us a lot. But unless we get additional Senate seats, and unless we keep the House more or less like it is right now, you’re not going to be able — unless the Democrats are serious and they want to come along and they want to get immigration work done.
We can do something that’s going to be historic. We can do something that will be historic and we can get it done. I am ready. I’m here. All of these people — these are very talented people — we’re all ready. We’re all here. We need votes from the Democrats or nothing can pass.
Thank you all very much.