EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Bill Hagerty returned late Friday from a visit to Mexico and Guatemala, where he met with top officials of both countries a month before Vice President Kamala Harris is due to make a similar trip — with the Tennessee senator warning that it is vital the U.S. treats the border crisis with a sense of urgency that he believes is currently lacking.
“I went because this is the most urgent national security and economic problem we face as a nation, and we need to convey that sense of urgency to the leadership of Mexico and Guatemala,” Hagerty, R-Tenn., told Fox News in an interview Saturday.
SEN. BILL HAGERTY TO VISIT GUATEMALA, MEXICO IN EFFORT TO HELP RESOLVE MIGRATION CRISIS
(Sen. Hagerty meets with Guatemalan Foreign Minister Pedro Brolo (Office of Bill Hagerty))
“This needs to be fixed now,” he said. “This isn’t something to take our time with, to have conference after conference and endless bureaucrat meetings, we need to do something about it now.”
Hagerty, a former businessman who served as U.S. ambassador to Japan and helped secure a trade agreement between the two countries, met with the president and foreign minister in Guatemala, and Mexico’s foreign and economic ministers — along with American and Mexican business leaders.
Harris, who was put in charge of leading diplomatic efforts to resolve the border crisis in March, has yet to visit either country although she has held “virtual” meetings with leaders of both Guatemala and Mexico. She is due to visit both countries at the beginning of next month.
Hagerty said he was told by representatives of those countries that cartels are getting stronger and more powerful, partly because they are able to market messaging coming from the U.S. about an easier ride and better benefits for illegal immigrants in the U.S.
KAMALA HARRIS CALLS FOR ‘IMMEDIATE RELIEF’ FOR NORTHERN TRIANGLE IN VIRTUAL MEETING WITH MEXICAN PRESIDENT
“When they hear news of perhaps a $15 minimum wage, $1,200 stimulus checks for illegal immigrants, this is the place to come if you want to get your COVID-19 shot because they don’t have COVID vaccines down there yet — all these messages are being translated into marketing materials by these cartels, these coyotes to go prey on vulnerable people to create a sense of hope, a sense of urgency, a false sense of opportunity that they’re going to come here and make a minimum of $15 an hour, and they’re going to be treated a very special way here, better than they’re being treated at home,” he said.
The number of migrants coming to the border has spiked dramatically since President Biden took office, with more than 172,000 migrant encounters in March alone and a record number of migrant children that quickly overwhelmed facilities. Similar numbers are expected for April.
Critics have blamed the rollback of Trump-era policies by the Biden administration — namely, the construction of the wall at the southern border and the endi
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