US Customs and Border Protection releases 2019 Southwest border migration stats

The report notes an over 300 percent increase in the number of family units apprehended when compared to 2018.
3:00 | 03/05/19

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Transcript for US Customs and Border Protection releases 2019 Southwest border migration stats
And. Everybody welcome to the brief him on ABC's Devin Dwyer on this Wednesday great to have you with us here at ABC news live a busy day here in Washington as the trough administration just a few minutes ago. Announced the latest statistics from the southern border of the center of so much debate in this town take a look at the numbers. They are record setting according to the Department of Homeland Security customs. And border protection on the southern border there has been a 300%. Increase in the number of family units apprehended. At the border that's an all time high 36000. Families. Coming to between ports of entry on the southern border where as they're apprehended as you see there also. It's more than 6000 unaccompanied children coming in all told. In the past month alone 66000. It's set up what is really a humanitarian crisis in addition to a security crisis children. With their parents going and put into custody six. Into the fiscal year twin sixteen died in US government custody which is a tragedy in itself and you may or call the case of seven year old. Jacqueline call of Guatemala who died in December and Customs and Border Protection custody. There you see Jacqueline she had crossed the border are near antelope wells' New Mexico remote isolated area about 700. A 170 miles southwest of El Paso, Texas you see it there on the map. And that it is the home district congressional district of our next guest congresswoman says she'll tore a small she's also chairwoman of the hot house homeland security oversight committee great to have you with this congresswoman. I think so much for being here want to get your reaction. To these numbers just coming in pretty striking and why do you think they're skyrocketing. Well. This is part of an ongoing trend that where seeing when it comes to the changing demographics of people who are. At the border instead of seeing single men who are often. Coming from Mexico and trying to evade detection we're seeing more families and that are voluntarily presenting at the border. And as we see this increase that the big question is how do we make sure that CDP is an agency that can adapt to these changing circumstances. In a way that allows us to continue to enforce the law make sure that we are prioritizing border security. And also reflecting our values when it comes to making sure that agents that communities and that children their parents are safe. Page are you confident that we're prepared for this influx which doesn't seem to be abating. I I said I'm going to be we're having a hearing tomorrow with secretary Neal sent and one of the questions is. How have you worked to make sure that you have resource is in the right plates to become increasingly flexible. And one of the important aspects of that is making sure that we have a good relationship in congress. As we work to solve these problems together that there's transparency about the numbers there's transparency about the changes in protocol that we have so that we can adapt to these changing circumstance. In the circumstances are changing in those families keep coming in the numbers keep going up month by month want to bring in now another guest Erica. And he'll let she is said joining us from Phoenix Arizona she's a refugee. With the refugee and immigrant center for education and legal service says it's a nonprofit group that's helping a lot of these families caught up. In the air humanitarian situation the border Eric are great to see you what's your understanding the current state of play. With families coming across what happens to them as the congresswoman just said when they present themselves Seeking Asylum what happens next. Yeah well first look figure how to meet the interest. They're armor people who are choosing not go to a quarter of intrigue. Because there's there's a lot more hurdles you know not being able to ask for asylum. Hung in others through the bullet you'd like returned to practical policy. Remain like he's being actually. Many people act I after they asked what island and third you know individual or an act. I'm a lot more there's a lot of restrictions are coming in actually respond as well you know every day at ports of entry into. You know quote aren't we got her at that arena there was. About 2000 well aware recently putting to the old factory and it may well and there will basically. In the Mexican governor we're cooperating with and with. That your government is you know that are using carrying what it equally eatery you actually men. And all of its call in for people to you know this tribunal in the ports of entry. Which is very dangerous which is what we don't want happening you wonder treat people humanely as they're trying to beat her her life. What's your understanding of why the numbers keep going up so significantly mean 66000. Individuals last month alone. Record number of families 300% increase. I I think most people can understand the reasons that a lot of these migrants are seeking a better life many of them are very impoverished families children. Most from Central America movie not through Mexico to showing up at the border Seeking Asylum but. That's been true for years why now this huge influx just in the past year or so. You know they're and they're my remade. But we know is that it is a reality and a lot of a lot of individual client the client is here or grace says the work that we do. Be happy marriages really really does in stories are either violin. Property. You know it in it going up and an eerie how lady well my great. When they're you know living conditions at worst worst thing lancry and it ended early it happened. The question is how the united they going to respond to the and the answer is not a wall answer it not you know eighteen children away from their parents when they. I N and none of those brands are free now we need to figure out there are variations that. And we create a way where arms seekers that's how the ability or UA I'll wait to demean the United States. In countries where they're not going to be heard it what are going to have a better life for their children. In a caravan asylum seekers has been front and center in so much of the debate just in the past couple of months particularly after the death to Jacqueline call. The reports of abuse widespread abuse in US facilities. Recently at the White House the Homeland Security secretary Kirsten Nielsen offered these assurances about what her department is doing to make things better take a listen. You need it and to ensure that that hair but he. The next minute he threw it and let it pack it don't happen facility. There be vs the legal authorities to keep his grace. And congresswoman tore small back to you on this you visited a lot of these facilities that are in your district. Down there on the New Mexico Mexico border. How confident are you that DH SH HS have learned the lessons from the death of Jacqueline call and others it do you get the sense that. Who on the upswing in terms of care for these asylum seekers. Listen that's going to be a key focus the hearing tomorrow is is asking those questions about what have you learned from the ink investigations of these two deaths. And how are you implementing them I had robust conversations with medical experts on the border. Both within the community and the rural health care infrastructure that is is often. Helping address this crisis as well as within DHS. And we have to make sure that need to stop gaps that that are being put in place now turning into policies to make sure that people are screened adequately win name when they present at and make sure that they are receiving the care that they need. And and meanwhile we have to address the larger challenge as a fundamental piece of border security is a clear moral immigration system. And we have to make sure that at that our rules are clear but also that there is a way to address this in front. And a former let you go congress and are struck by an interview he gave recently. And you were talking a little bit about the wall. And you you made the point the goal of building a wall all along much of the open border in your district. I would not solve the asylum problem because as you said there would have to be a small patch of land actual US soil. Between the wall and Mexico which wouldn't do anything to stop those asylum seekers from stepping foot. On there that's absolutely correct so I I think that when we look at border security we have to take it by a mile by mile an hour cents to make sure that we look at the time it takes to enter into another Canadian avoid detection. And the time it takes for Border Patrol agents to approach and to do the interdiction but that's all for people who are trying to avoid detection. And and what we're seeing now in the increase in numbers as people who are voluntarily presenting at the border. And that requires a whole different process in terms of what it looks like two to inner decked and then process those people who eventually make claim asylum. And that's why my focus has been how do we make sure that this agency that CBP is prepared to make adjustments as they seek changes in trends we've seen this in this. Start in 2014 in terms of more families so it really is time that we start having protocols to address that's we should be more prepared than we are. And we know you're gonna press the Homeland Security secretary tomorrow when she comes before your committee are represented insists she'll toward a small thanks so much it's great to see you. I hear in the ABC news live briefing room hope you'll come back and join us again and we'll check back here tomorrow as well think you. And our thanks also to Erica and the only joining us from Phoenix Arizona and her advocacy group and the work they're doing with immigrants they are speaking. Of congress holding people accountable. In this White House and administration are Johnson Tucci is here he's tracking the accountability front from the investigations unit John. It's been a big week on that front the president spouting off we'll hear from him in the second and combo were things stand today. With the White House response to all of these did democratic requests for documents eighty plus. From individuals. Over the over the past toward four hours or so were boarding learning. Basically its we're not complying so we have about 81 individuals and business entities they've been contacted. By the House Judiciary Committee it's the first broad outreach we've seen from the new democratic leadership up on Capitol Hill. They are asking for documents records emails text messages from. Everybody current former administration officials the president's children have also been asked so far we're not a lot of compliance with that meaning this is just been submitted as of yesterday but. Pulling all as information together one of the biggest pieces of push back we are getting is that we already given this informational remember. Many these people cooperated with special counsel Robert Muller's probe. They've cooperated with the three other congressional investigations that have gone on the last two years now it's like we do this whole forget. Presumably though they have all the documents are there any doubt how do you patient off so there is sir sort of a political game here. I'm going on president suggested as much as a few minutes ago here's what he had to say. His latest comments on this new offensive by house Democrats. To seek accountability in the White House Nicholas. There was no collusion. It was a hoax it was no anything and that they wanted to do that a city getting legislation passed anyway. People or organizations got letters it's a disgrace it's a disgrace to our country. I'm not surprised it's happened basically they've started the campaign so I think campaign begins so it's a shame. And the people understand it. When they look at it they just say presidential harassment. Presidential harassment the new slogan Catherine folders joins us as we look at this statement from Sarah Sanders Catherine. And ended it not just the president but his press secretaries campaign the Press Secretary his allies on Capitol Hill. All using this line now it's a coordinated push back after we're seeing under way. CNN's John and I have also been reporting we. An expected the president to go on the attack since the beginning of these investigations we knew he was going to use that word presidential harassment we've seen. His allies on Capitol Hill and go that Mitch McConnell Lindsey Graham. So if you. Pretty is certain that we're still going to continue to hear this language not only from the president but from the White House but that was a is extremely. Fiery statement from Sarah Sanders a trunk and can't also released a similar one but what it does tell us that that's any indication of if the White House is going and to cooperate or how they're going to respond. To all these requests we can expect to see a lot more about that and. And we did see something concrete today Johnson Suu Kyi were the White House actually sent its first letter responding to. House oversight committee request saying thanks but no thanks again not responding. Here's that letter that committee is failed appointing authority establishing legitimate legislative purpose for the committee is unprecedented and extraordinary. Intrusive demands as a letter in response request for six. Beauty where it's yeah this is it separate investigations so the House Judiciary Committee is 81. This is the security clearance questions this is really bouncing off the New York Times report from last week about memos related to Jared Kushner that apparently general John Kelly wrote he was ordered by president trump to override the experts and that. The teen at the White House and grant Jared Kushner a top security clearance. Quite stunning if true you know the president said on record New York Times only January that he did not do this upon could trump told ABC news that her father mean no special. I'm exceptions for her or her husband. But now we are seeing that this is the White House is gonna have to go back and review a reading over the last two years with Democrats on the control. And K Cha joins us as well for the conversation our legal analyst Kate and also former White House counsel herself Kate. It does seem like the White House here is sort of gunning for a subpoena fight they want this to land in court. Well I think it so far they are acting as though they're not Anderson inserted that ordinary negotiation an accommodation process that typically follows a document requests like this now that's what happens a big broad request or 81 big broad requests are sent out and then negotiation ensues and the request get narrowed in some documents are turned over and summer withheld. And sort of slowly you kind of get to a resolution that everyone can live with and so. Courts are actually almost never brought into and resolve these kinds of disputes and actually isn't a pull out of key slot. On net sort of reach principle I don't over the congress'. A legitimate oversight prerogative and the president's which emit executive privilege prerogative out which one has to give to the other. If they are in conflict but it seems to me quite likely that we're going to face at least one and probably many judicial battles about just that question out. Probably before too long thing in case you served in the in the counsel's office during the Obama administration the president said today that. He said a similar thing happened during were President Obama and Obama never responded to congress he said he said they didn't do a thing when they got accurate reports is that true. I'm not sure what he was referring to but there were always responses from the White House so you know. It is true that there was one in the lead Obama administration there was a very huge now with congress over investigations into the fast and furious operation at the Department of Justice. Which did result in a subpoena and attorney general holder being held in contempt of congress so is so some of these fights you know did proceed and did end up in court album that never went beyond the district court muffle fund but it's ounce will indicate that every White House initially resists. I've broad request from congress but it's also the case that historically every White House has ultimately cooperated to some extent chain and and so it'll be interesting to see how they proceed beyond just rhetoric. In this White House had anticipated this turns into Q Daley and mobilizing for months before this very junction idea and. And remember they had a big change at the end of last year downing and the white house council stepped down many of the individuals that he brought with them from his former law firm Jones day. Had left with him almost forty people exited the White House Counsel's Office. Pats have blown the new White House counsel has staffed op. Part a lot of individuals but past experience and oversight and take a look at this graphic here just explain how this is gonna work now for the trump world what they're gonna have to deal with what they're looking at. Is it it's gonna be three different entities that are gonna have to respond to contacts from congress the first one is the presidency that is the White House Counsel's Office and that is. Pats have blown anything to due with the actual functions of the job of the president. The second one is going to be Trump's personal attorney so he actually Rudy Giuliani correct the president the man the individuals who Rudy Giuliani. Gina Mardi Gras in the federal prosecutors form press prosecutors they're helping them they're the ones are have to deal with specific questions that the president Donald Trump the man. The third considering the president that we have here. This man has a very big company to Trump Organization so there is a full legal team that's been assembled one of the former White House ethics lawyers finished chewing that teen. They are bracing for big battle and the difference also we have to remember is that anything that involves the president or the presidency so teams won in two. They could to clear privilege they could get away with blocking subpoenas when he deals the Trump Organization. Our sources have told us they are going to be forcing have to comply when their can't. No one of the topics that they are going to be fighting over Wrenham perhaps most fiercely is the tax returns issue the president he is not released any of his tax returns. Are breaking with president want to bring in our White House correspondent terra pulmonary who has some new reporting on the tax returns this year Terry you you've learned just in the past 24 hours that he'll committees have staffed up. Got teams together they are getting ready to go after the taxes. Tell us what you know. We'll Moeller report was certainly a factor in terms of when they would start preparing to ask firm request of the president's tax returns after. Michael Collins bombshell testimony they all feel more in power there's a lot of pressure from other committees. For the house ways and means means which has been jurisdiction to ask your tax return to start. And dancing that request it's a one page document to pair asked nothing crazy but they are really preparing for the fact that they expect that. Those letters will be mourned. Popular district court and the Supreme Court may have four lawyers were not every now which is not many if you think about it. But I think they decided to pick this battle for it and it's personal tax returns at they're going after originally they were thinking trump foundation drug organization. But they think you know what instead of Julian sort of what Nadler did which is again at a bank. Free for all and see who responds they want to focus on the one thing the personal tax turns and if they get that they think. The others will follow. But it's going to be along by and they have to work with the Treasury Department to get the tax income right it's secretary menu chin who authorizes the IRS to hand over. Those tax returns I don't expect that they're gonna do that very narrow easily he said at a passing missing and they'll look at the legality of it there are many other relationship with chairman Neil who actually was very cautious about it but I think he's feeling a lot of political pressure and I think. I am also feeling pressure from Rene is owned panel. And so as used to just suggested of this is likely is certain to appear before the Supreme Court as if starting in federal this from this correct Kate shocked Kate. What legal issues will the courts federal courts be looking at assuming this whole tax returns issue lands there what. What what what may be considering and you expected by the Supreme Court. News while I should say that like everybody else I'm still getting up to speed on the statute by just on the face of the statute it does seem to authorize the chairman of this committee to request any person's taxes. And there's no special need. In terms of a showing of any particular sort that need to be made it seems to be pretty straight forward so. The president is going to be. Probably deploying some pretty creative arguments to justify with holding those taxes. Look there's never been any test of the applicability of the statute to a president because no president has ever needed after tax as requested by it weighs and means committee right baseball voluntarily disclose their taxes previously. But just my initial thinking about it is. You know executive privilege the way that the president might be able to block the other categories of documents that on just talking about. That's about protecting the president's ability to can advice from his advisors and I think you know. Brainstorm about. Creative solutions to problems without embarrassing exposure to the light of day if things that you know never even amount to to and policy. And so there's all kinds of policy reasons to protect certain kinds of presidential documents from disclosure. None of that seems to apply here so I don't know that the president is going to have very strong arguments to Marshall. In order to avoid this disclosure so it may not be a very long court fight but you know again we're all getting up to speed and is totally untested set of legal theories that are likely to be answered. That's very fascinating he shot legal analyst thanks so much for joining us today Kate and thanks for your reporting terrible marry much more. From terror online and you can read the full report Johnson teacher great to have you heard of before we let you go you're gonna tell us about your new episode of the podcast the investigation if you haven't heard it. Fascinating new interview with one of president trounced former personal attorneys Ty Cobb who. Policing their from a different skill yeah highly I think there are different choir practice and conflict to Ty Cobb the ever colorful former White House lawyer has great experience for us capitals dealt with this before but. You anti teen into the street a very interesting time so president trump obviously starts dealing with all these investigations doesn't have any DC lawyers brings in a New York team. Ty Cobb enters as the White House Washington expert to help there. As he strained exit you know that's when president trump gets into a bit of attention more with Bob Mueller and that's he starts going on the attack Ty Cobb exits we asked Ty Cobb as part of our podcast. What he thinks of special counsel Robert Mueller who is known for decades. Here's what he told us. I think Marmol has an American hero I think Bob Muller's gather and you don't even though he came from an argument privileged background. You know handsome backbone of steel he walked and firefight in Vietnam to pull out one of his injured colleagues in the was appropriately honored for that I've known in thirty years as prosecutor. And a friend and I think I think the world of Bob Barr he's a V is and he gave very. Deliberate yet. Anybody's also class act and I'm and it's a very. Just disoriented. Person. Did I hear that right Bob Mueller American hero again that was entitled from sway savvy is icon that's still friends at present trump you know he says he has spoken to a little bit since he is left the White House all but obviously a very different approach we actually asked him about what he sees the biggest difference right now he said look. I want to engage I wanted to be peaceful I didn't want to fire upon Twitter. Rudy Giuliani has a different approach while fast area Arsenio new and new episode of the investigation podcast you subscribe audits and survive me five starts and apple iTunes podcast Johnson teaching things to you agree to getting here is always shifting gears now. Back to Capitol Hill where house Democrats have a lot on their hands not just do with president trump of one of their own. Stirring up controversy one of two Muslim women members of congress represented at you on Omar of Minnesota is stirring up controversy. For some of her comments about Israel and Judaism take a listen to what she said just a couple days ago. CE yeah isn't any harm he wants it. More allegiance to the horn. Why is it okay. I mean. Yeah so be at her name. Fossil fuel interests he's a big pharma and hot. How horrible unhappy. Movie that it isn't Lindsey's mom. She was widely condemned for those comments suggesting that allies of Israel and the Jewish people or pledging allegiance to a foreign power. I she did respond on Twitter explaining that she. Did meant to question the relationship and that it's fair game of course she's taken a lot of blowback from Democrats including Republicans and now. Our John Parkinson up on Capitol Hill is tracking a very unusual. Democratic house democratic resolution condemning in one of their own we think it's coming up for vote tomorrow John. Yeah that's right there should be a vote as early as tomorrow some time on this resolution. And what's gonna say it's not gonna name congresswoman Omar. This democratic taxes not name her but it goes through really the history of anti semitism and then at the end it's Dave rejects that. And since expresses a sense of the House of Representatives to reject anti semitism. There's a competing Republican measure that's out there it's unclear if this is gonna come into the floor with any sort of procedural vote. But the Republican bill itself. Does named congresswoman Omar and takes through some of the actions that she's taken and also the other women that is elected proceeded to lead. Who had some comments earlier this year they were controversial. How widespread is thick condemnation. You know if you. Both publicly but also privately are yeah are you seen our people distancing themselves from representative Omar. Even in the hallways of the capitol behind the scenes or is this your mostly just up a public show of condemnation. Yet seems like a veiled rebuke of what the congresswoman is done here since it does not name her. But this is very unusual that the democratic leadership is bringing this resolutions the floor. Given the timing on how all this is gone down over the weekend. One thing that we haven't mentioned about congressman Omar is that she appeared on a poster at the West Virginia GOP. Like state convention this last weekend. That tied her excuse me to the 9/11 September. The terrorist attacks and so. You know I think we're she was you know pushing back against that there's been people that have. Gone out to her defense Weathers congresswoman book costs Joseph Cortez. Or congresswoman need a lowly but need a low he than said. Look it doesn't Goebel plays you have to. Be able to stand up for both you know don't perpetuate stereotypes against Jewish people but also we have to deflect defense members against the Islamic phobia that they're facing. And I guess what it one last. It litmus test fruit democratic outrage John is whether she'll lose her seat on the foreign relations committee Republicans. Are adamant that she be kicked off the committee or is there any indication that would happen. Yet congressman les Eldon from New York he's one of two Jewish house Republicans he's calling for her to lose her seat. There were calls a couple weeks ago and mid February for the congresswoman lose it. And speaker Pelosi at the point. You know said that that you know she wasn't gonna take that torch that sort of action I think it's unlikely that we see the congresswoman. Get booted off at least at this stage I think that's you really have to escalated to another level in order to lose her seat on that committee. And already she's drawn fire for two comments in just as many weeks drawn condemnation from our own party will watch that vote tomorrow John Parkinson on Capitol Hill thanks so much. I see you thank you for watching us here in the brief here today on this Tuesday very busy Tuesday hope you join us back here tomorrow. 3:30 eastern time on Devin Dwyer in Washington Gupta CNN. Yeah.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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