Remarks in a Roundtable Discussion on Border Security in Yuma, Arizona
The President. Hi, Doug. Well, thank you very much, everybody. Great to be here. Beautiful runway. A little warmer than I'm used to, but that's okay, Doug, right? We have a—I was just given a beautiful picture of the wall. That's before and after. And that's quite a difference: one area you walk over, you drive over, you do whatever you want, and other one you say: "Well, I guess we don't get in." Here's another one—just given. That's great. That's a different section. Pretty amazing.
They've done a great job; we're up to 212—more than that now, about 220—but over 212 miles, and we'll be very close to 500 miles by the end of the year. And that's the area that we wanted.
So it's great, and thank you all for being here. Thank you very much. And I'm thrilled to be in Yuma, Arizona. They've treated me very nicely in Arizona. So we're very happy about that, Mr. Governor. Right? To commemorate the completion of more than 200 miles of powerful border wall.
We're on pace to complete 450 miles by the end of the year, and 500 miles, almost immediately thereafter. We may even have the 500 miles by the end of the year. We're doing a real job. The Army Corps of Engineers, I want to thank them. They've been incredible.
This is the most powerful and comprehensive border wall structure anywhere in the world. It's got technology that nobody would even believe, between sensors and cameras and everything else.
With us today are Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, who has done a fantastic job. Thank you, Chad. Commissioner Mark Morgan. Mark, thank you very much. Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, who's doing a fantastic job at the Army Corps. We have interesting construction talk, don't we?
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chief of Engineers and Commanding General Lieutenant General Todd T. Semonite, USA. Yes, sir.
The President. Really great stuff.
President of the National Border Patrol Council, Brandon Judd. Hello, Brandon. What are you doing sitting back there? I've never seen that before. You're always up here with me. You're getting low key lately, huh? That's confidence. That means he's got a lot of confidence. That's great. And thank you for everything, Brandon. Say hello to everybody. Great job you do. Appreciate it.
He was a supporter of mine before I ran. He said, "I hope that guy runs." Right? So I appreciate it very much. We won't forget it either.
And several other very dedicated and heroic members of law enforcement. I met just a few of them back there, and they gave me a beautiful replica of the wall, a little shorter version, but that's okay. And we want to thank everybody.
We're also joined by some of my very good friends and people I have great respect for you. You have a great Governor in this State. And he's been a great friend for the State, but he's been a great friend to our Nation and does a—just a great job: Doug Ducey. Thank you very much, Doug. Governor Douglas A. Ducey of Arizona. Thank you, Mr. President.
The President. Appreciate it.
Gov. Ducey. Thank you.
The President. Talk to you in a little while. Appreciate it.
Senator Martha McSally, who I hear is doing very well. We need you in Washington. Will you please win?
Senator Martha E. McSally. Yes, sir. [Inaudible]
The President. Because we need you. The alternative that's running against you is not the person that we want, where he's got things that we don't want. So we want you to win this race. It's very important. And we appreciate all the help that you've given us, especially on the border wall. We appreciate it, Martha. Thank you very much.
Representative Debbie Lesko has become a tremendous friend of mine and supporter. And with the impeachment hoax, she was right up front. And it was good for you. You became very famous. I became more famous and you became very, very famous. Right?
Representative Debra K. Lesko. Well, you helped me. Thank you.
The President. Well, it certainly didn't hurt. She was one of the really great advocates, who's terrific. We appreciate it, Debbie. Thank you.
Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls. And thank you, Douglas, very much for being here.
Mayor Douglas J. Nicholls of Yuma, AZ. Thank you. Welcome back to Yuma.
The President. Thank you very much, Doug. It's really an honor.
And Yuma Police Chief, Susan Smith. Thank you, Susan, very much for being here.
So my administration has done more than any administration in history to secure our southern border. Our border has never been more secure. I think Doug can tell you that. Anybody at this table can tell you that. It's never even been close.
The numbers now, including not only the wall—the wall has helped a lot, where we have that 200 miles—212 and now 220—it's really, essentially, almost, I guess 99.6 or something like that. Maybe somebody can get an extraordinarily long ladder, but once you get up there, it gets very high. And it's just about unclimbable. So it's really great. That's made a big difference, but we have other things that we've done.
During the past 2 months, we've seen the lowest number of illegal border crossings in many years. Illegal immigration is down 84 percent from this time last year. Illegal crossings from Central America are down 97 percent.
Now, the news—I won't say "fake news"; I want to be nice today. So the news will say "97 percent," Doug. "That's not very good." But 97 percent, I would say, sounds pretty good.
Gov. Ducey. A-plus.
The President. You sure it's 97 right?
Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark A. Morgan. Yes, sir.
The President. Ninety-seven. That's a pretty good——
Acting Commissioner Morgan. Yes, sir. The President. That's a pretty good number you're doing. Ninety-seven percent down. Nearly 450,000 pounds of drugs have been seized this year, and 2,337 criminal aliens have been apprehended. We've stopped asylum fraud, ended catch-and-release.
If you look at so many of the different crimes that come through the border, they're stopped. We've implemented groundbreaking agreements with Mexico. I want to thank the President of Mexico. He's really a great guy. I think he'll be coming into Washington pretty soon, to the White House.
But they have a total of—what's the number today, would you say? Soldiers? What would you say?
Acting Commissioner Morgan. Over 20,000, sir.
The President. Yes. Over 20. So we've had 27,000, 28,000, 25,000 Mexican soldiers are on our border making sure people aren't coming across.
So I want to also say that we've made a lot of progress with Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. And now, when somebody comes over, whether it's MS-13 or anybody else, we bring them back and they take them gladly. In the previous administration, they didn't take them at all. They wouldn't take them. They said, "You keep them."
Using our emergency public health authorities, we prevented a coronavirus catastrophe on the southern border, shutting down human smuggling and swiftly returning the crossers—we call them "crossers." They cross now, and we bring them right back. In the old days, it would take years to get them back. They wouldn't get them back. Other administrations, like the previous administration, essentially didn't bring them back.
Without these public health measures, the southern border would be a global epicenter of the viral transmission. And if you look at some of the towns on the other side of the wall—as an example, in California, we have a certain area that is heavily infected on the Mexico side. And if we didn't have a border wall there, it would be a—it would be really a catastrophic situation.
So I just want to thank everyone. The Biden people—and he's controlled totally by the radical left, as you understand. He's not controlling it; they're controlling him. They want open borders. They want criminal sanctuaries. They want everything that doesn't work. I don't even think it works politically, frankly, at this point. People see what happened.
You'll take a look at what's happening in Seattle, or take a look—Minnesota is such a great, great State, but you look at Minneapolis, and you see what happened there. Until we sent in—we sent in the National Guard. We said, "You got to do it." As soon as they were there, boom, it shut down. All the problems they had shut down. You didn't hear about them anymore. And many other places.
Last night in Washington, we heard they were going to take down the statue—Washington, DC—the statue of Andrew Jackson. A beautiful statue in Lafayette Park. And Mark Meadows is here. He heard about it. I heard about it. We sent people there. And law enforcement did an incredible job. They ran into that place. And we were minutes away. That was a sneak attack.
And now we've enacted an act, a very specific statue and monument act that puts people in jail for 10 years if they do anything to even try to deface one of our monuments or statues. So we have numerous people in prison right now; others are going there. And we're going to look at that from a standpoint of retroactivity. We can go back and look at some of the damage they've done.
But largely, it's State damage, because the States have been very weak—extremely weak in protecting their heritage and protecting their culture. So the States are going to have to take care of themselves, but we're with—we're there to help. If they want, we'll gladly help. But the Federal statues, monuments, buildings, various things that we have, including if you look at the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial. They want to take down George Washington. How about that one? That's a new one. We heard that the other day—George Washington. I don't think we'll let that happen, Doug, right? I don't think we're going to let that happen. But George Washington and so many others. They—I really don't even think, frankly, they know who they're taking down. I think they just want to do things for bad purposes.
So—and these aren't protestors. These are agitators and others. So we've taken a very strong stance. And it won't be happening Federally. If it does, they're going to pay a very big price, and they know that. It won't be happening with the Federal statues and monuments.
So with that, I'd like to just introduce Chad Wolf to say a few words about the border—the job we've done on general security, not just the southern border. The southern border has been a primary focus, as everyone knows, because tremendous amounts of drugs and other things come down. Human trafficking, we have that down to the lowest number we've had in many years. And again, being helped a lot by the length of our wall, which is going to be complete very soon.
So, Chad, say a few words, please.
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf. Well, thank you, Mr. President. And we're here today as a testament to your leadership and determination to secure our Nation's borders. In recent weeks, as you've mentioned, our country has witnessed an all-out attack against our law enforcement. Thankfully, you have not stood idly by. Instead, you're supporting the brave law enforcement officers who sacrifice so much for all of us every day. And nowhere is that support as important as it is here at the southwest border.
[At this point, Acting Secretary Wolf continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]
So, Mr. President, I want to thank you once again for your support of the men and women of DHS, also for your support of law enforcement across the country, but particularly here along the southwest border.
We look forward to continuing our work on the border wall system and making the border even more secure.
The President. Thank you very much. You know, when we first came, there was a thing called the "caravan." And you'd have caravans, you'd have these massive amounts of people coming up, and they'd be coming from sometimes Honduras or Guatemala, El Salvador, other countries. They'd come through those countries sometimes, but thousands and thousands of people. I guess the largest one we saw was maybe 15,000. That's a lot of people.
Acting Secretary Wolf. It's large.
The President. And very dangerous for those people too. Things that happened on that journey up were brutal, and it was a long journey. But we don't have that anymore because they know they can't get through. And when they know they can't get through, they don't want to go through that.
So, you know, we've told other countries: "You can't do that. You can't have caravans." And they listened to us, so it was a big—it's a big difference right now. Tremendous difference.
Acting Commissioner Morgan. Yes, sir. So a couple things. First, I want to echo what the Secretary said, sir. I want to say, as Commissioner of CBP, thank you. Thank you from early on. You listened where others before you have not. I think Brandon Judd could testify to that. Early on—right, Brandon?—he was engaging you. And you engaged the experts who are on the frontlines every day, risking their lives for this country. And you asked them, "What do you need?" And one of the things they said is, "We need an effective border wall system." And, Mr. President, you have delivered that.
[Acting Commissioner Morgan continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]
And I want to end by saying a special thanks also to General Todd Semonite. It's been an incredible relationship that we've had. His "wall team," as we call it, and CBP's wall team, we've worked together for the past few years and making this happen. And I am 100-percent convinced that we will reach that 450 miles by the end of the calendar year.
The President. That's great. Yes, I think we'll do that. Todd, go ahead, please.
Lt. Gen. Semonite. Well, sir, first of all, thanks for having us in. And the Corps of Engineers is exceptionally honored to work on one of these largest infrastructure projects in our country. And the Commissioner talked about the team. I mean, it goes to Secretary Wolf, all the CBP agents—phenomenal people. We couldn't do this alone. And it's just a very noble calling to be able to put this in place.
[Lt. Gen. Semonite continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]
We want to continue to make sure that we are doing—going overboard on COVID compliance. And, right now, our contractors have some of the most stringent measures in America before—to make sure, before they ever walk on the workspace, they're being as safe as they absolutely can. And if there's anything else that we need to do to be able to make sure we're working very, very close with your constituents, we are committed to do that.
So, sir, we're honored to be here, and we've got a lot of great things going on.
The President. Great job. Thank you very much, Todd.
Brandon, could I ask you to say a few words? Because you were the ones that said—you told me, "We need a wall. You got to get the wall."
National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd. Well, first, President, actions speak much louder than words. You're the only President in my 20-year—23-year career that has actually come down to the border multiple times to look at and assess what actually needs to be done.
[Mr. Judd continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]
You've talked with the men and women of the Border Patrol. You've invited me to the Oval Office on multiple occasions to consult with what the boots on the ground want. They have consistently told you: Walls in strategic locations work. It allows us to dictate where traffic goes. It allows us to be a lot more effective.
You, not your predecessors, have done that. You built the economy. You have provided border security. And you continue to do it, and we continue to look forward to working with you. Thank you.
The President. Thank you, Brandon, very much. It was very interesting because Brandon was telling me, right at the beginning, we needed the wall, and what kind of wall we need, and you have to have a vision through the wall. If you don't have the vision through—and then we met, and you all agreed.
But we met with your people. We had various design competitions for—I said, "If we're going to build it, let's build it right." And we had design competitions. The wall that was hardest to get over, the wall that was impossible to climb or certainly very, very hard—and this was the hardest. And we built the top of the line. But you were really a great help. Thank you, Brandon, very much.
So a man that's been so much—has just done a great job for the area and very—is so into security of this State, of this great State of Arizona—and I just think he's really a fantastic guy, the Governor. Could you say a few words, please, Doug?
Gov. Ducey. Sure—[inaudible]. One, welcome back to Arizona, Mr. President. It's good to have you here and, I want to say, to be down on the border.
For years, Arizonans have heard empty talk about the border, and this is the first administration that has taken action. So I want to say how grateful I am for the partnership with Homeland Security; how your Border Patrol, your Customs and Border Protection, and ICE have all been helpful.
[Gov. Ducey continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]
And your top folks have partnered with the Border Strike Force in Arizona. And as a result, we've kept dangerous drugs and this poison out of our schools and neighborhoods, as well as protecting people who are not being trafficked over the border. So I'm grateful, and I know there's more to do because the border is longer than 220 miles, and I look forward to working with you in the coming years to complete the job.
The President. We'll have it mostly complete by the end of the year, and there may be a little—we may add a little, and then we may find spots where we want to add. But we'll have everything we wanted pretty much by the end of the year. That's great, Doug. Thank you. Great job you're doing.
And, Martha, you're there, and you've been such a help, and I appreciate it. And I know how you feel about border security, maybe better than anybody——
Sen. McSally. Yes, sir.
The President. ——but I just want to thank you for your help. Please say a few words.
Sen. McSally. Absolutely. Mr. President, welcome back to Arizona. It was an honor to fly with you on Air Force One and bring you back for this commemoration. I feel like we were just here recently for the 100th mile, and so it just shows with the partnership that's been talked about here how quickly you've been able to enact this border wall system to give the agents everything that they need in order to secure our border.
[Sen. McSally continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]
And the drugs that have been flowing through easily that are impacting and killing loved ones around America—it has to stop, and this border wall system is a huge part of stopping the cartel activity; stopping that poison from coming across; and giving these agents everything they need, as we support law enforcement for everything they do in order to keep us safe at the Federal and at the local level.
So thanks for your leadership and your partnership on this. Welcome back to Arizona.
The President. Thank you very much. Thanks, Martha. Great job. Appreciate it.
Debbie, go ahead. Come on.
Rep. Lesko. Well——
The President. Let's see if you can do it again. [Laughter]
Rep. Lesko. You know, I'm—I'm on the ground, I'm on Judiciary Committee and Homeland Security committees, so I see firsthand how many of my Democratic colleagues really want to prioritize illegal immigrants over U.S. citizens and they really do want open borders. I mean, I don't understand it, but they do. And so there's such a clear difference between you and your future opponent in this issue and Democrats as whole.
I mean, I sat in Judiciary Committee when Chairman Jerry Nadler said that the Border Patrol officers were guilty of child abuse. And I think they said to Mr. Morgan that he was guilty of negligent homicide. I mean, the insanity of what they're saying and the difference is so clear between what the Democrats want for the future of our Nation and what you are doing to make us safe and make our country safe, and I want to thank you for that.
The President. Well, I think one of the alltime classics—and I'm sure you all remember it well—was they had a picture of a cage, in the New York Times and other places, and it was a cage for children. And they said President Trump built it and how horrible it was. And they still talk about it, even though they know it's not true.
And somebody wrote in, "No, no, that cage was built in 2014 by President Obama."
Rep. Lesko. That's right.
The President. I guess you could say Biden, but I don't think Biden knew too much about it, frankly. He still doesn't. But it was built by President Obama.
And Mark called, who was around this business for a long time. He said, "That wasn't built by President Trump; that was built by President Obama in 2014." They gave me an exact date. Actually, they gave me the date it was constructed, meaning a series of cages. And I've, sort of, never forgotten it.
And they still say that. You know, they still take—take that same picture. That's why they get called the "fake news," and it's too bad, because they ought to straighten it out. It would be so good for our country.
But, no, that was built in 2014, and I never forgot it. Somehow, I never forgot it.
Anyway, Mr. Mayor, would you like to say something?
Mayor Nicholls. Thank you very much, Mr. President, and thanks again for coming back to Yuma. But thank you, more importantly, for last year when you helped us through a big surge of the Central American families. The folks with DHS really stepped up and addressed the very specific concern we had.
[Mayor Nicholls continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]
But the men and women of DHS that live here—they're our residents, they're our friends, they're our family members, and it's a very personal and very poignant fact for us to have those kind of protections in place.
So thank you very much.
The President. Well, you have to see San Diego. So, on the other side of San Diego is a tremendously big problem with COVID and other things. And they wanted that wall so badly—you know, you don't hear this about California. They wanted that wall. They were calling. Everybody was call—I won't even tell. I won't embarrass them by saying who called. But people that didn't want the wall outside wanted the wall.
And I built the wall, and it worked 100 percent. You know what I'm talking about. And then, I see one of the politicians 2 weeks later. "They should take down the wall." By the way, it worked so well. But he was saying, "They should've taken down the wall." But now they don't even say that, because now it stopped COVID; it stopped everything. It stopped the whole deal. And you've had it, and you see the experience. And we're going to take a good look at a big chunk that we have right in your backyard, right here.
And I know it's made a big difference for Yuma, and that's great. You've done a fantastic job. Thank you very much.
Chief, would you like to say something?
Chief Susan Smith of the Yuma, AZ, Police Department. Yes, sir. Welcome, Mr. President, to Yuma. And I really first want to thank you very much for your support of law enforcement, local and Federal. It's much needed right now, and it's appreciated.
[Chief Smith continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]
One thing I want you to take away is that Yuma County is a very unique community in that all of the law enforcement work very collaboratively together, from our Federal, State, and local partners. So I hope you get that takeaway when you leave here.
The President. Thank you very much. Appreciate it. I look forward to seeing it.
Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy James W. Carroll, Jr. Thank you, Mr. President. As your principal drug adviser, when we first told you about China and fentanyl coming in from over there, you took decisive action and you held China accountable. We explained about South America and drugs coming up through the Caribbean, and you had Secretary Esper do a surge out at sea to prevent the boats from bringing the drugs into our country. And as we're talking about today, when we talked about the southwest border, you already knew it, but you knew to took action, and you did it. And you are now taking a tough stance here at the southwest border.
[Director Carroll continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]
It's been a great honor to be able to work for you in this capacity and see your passion for saving American lives.
The President. That was really nice. I appreciate that very much. We are working very hard on it. So I appreciate it. You're doing a great job, too.
Director Carroll. Thank you, Mr. President.
The President. Thank you.
U.S. Border Patrol Yuma Sector Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Carl E. Landrum. Mr. President, thank you for visiting Yuma Sector Border Patrol. The agents here, the men and women of this sector, have put in tireless days the past several years in the recent surge across the southwest border. Here in this sector, even though—even though Yuma is a small sector—the second smallest sector on the southwest border; less than 800 agents here in this sector—even though that is the case, we were the third-busiest sector on the southwest border.
[Agent Landrum continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]
And I thank you for the leadership. I thank everybody at the table today for leadership around the room, in order to take on this particular effort and help Yuma Sector Border Patrol in doing what we need to do to help secure the United States.
So thank you very much, Mr. President.
The President. Thank you very much. Those are incredible numbers. And I just want to say: This was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do, because we had to raise, you know, large amounts of money. As you were saying, this was one of the biggest projects you've ever worked on.
Lt. Gen. Semonite. Yes, sir.
The President. It's a tremendous—you know, you hear it's a wall, but it's a wall that's very big and very long and very powerful. And the Democrats didn't want to do it. They just didn't want to do it, Doug, no matter what. It didn't matter. And these are people that voted in favor of it 10 years ago, but they never got it built because they didn't know how to build it—because building it is tough, too. But I do that, and we know how to build.
But they tried to block it. They did everything in their power to block it. And it's very interesting because, in the end, it sort of just went through and the military helped us and we're getting it built regardless. But they don't like bringing it up and it's never mentioned anymore; the wall is never mentioned anymore.
The reason it's not mentioned: It's not that we won the battle. It's that it's such a compelling thing to have done. Because you see the numbers, and where that wall is going, as you're saying, it's like magic. You don't have to do—it saves tremendous manpower and womanpower. It saves tremendous human resources and saves lives.
But they want open borders, and they don't want walls. And they fought harder than anybody I've ever seen. And in the end, they quit. They gave up. The reason they gave up: Because, politically, it's unacceptable to say—especially with this new disease coming in, the pandemic. The new disease coming in, a gift from China. Especially when that happened, and they say, "How can we be putting this . . ." So they don't want to talk about the wall anymore. They opposed it. They were strongly opposed to it.
And it was interesting because—you said about the wall—they'd say, "No, no, we don't need a wall. We can have airplanes flying above. We can have pic-—people taking pictures. We can have drones." They wanted drones. I say, "What are you going to do? Take pictures of everyone flowing across?" They didn't want to say. They said, "No, no. Walls—that's old technology." No, walls are the greatest technology. They work.
I said—I sort of came up with this; I'm sure somebody did, before—I said there's two things—because everything changes in the world. They change fast. Change is so fast. You do a computer, and it's obsolete in 2 weeks. But two things that have never changed: a wall and a wheel. We're going to always have wheels, and we're going to always have walls. And we have the best security wall ever built. And we'll have it a completed very soon.
And the way you said that was very nice. I appreciated the big difference that it's made. It's—it's really great. Thank you very much. Thank you.
So we're going to the wall now. And we're going to see a piece of the wall. We're not going to be able to cover 500 miles of view, but we'll be able to cover about 10 yards. But we'll see a piece of a long wall that we're building. And you'll see—you'll see what we're talking about.
We'll see you over there. Thank you, media. Thank you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 11:34 a.m. at the Yuma Sector Border Patrol Station. In his remarks, he referred to Arizona Democratic senatorial candidate Mark E. Kelly; President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico; 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.; and White House Chief of Staff Mark R. Meadows. Director Carroll referred to Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper.
Donald J. Trump, Remarks in a Roundtable Discussion on Border Security in Yuma, Arizona Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/342148