CNN Newsroom: Interview With Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX)


Date: May 7, 2023
Issues: Guns Immigration


Well, we don't know at this time. You know, they are doing the drug and alcohol tests. He's not being very cooperative, and we don't know -- we got that video. There's other videos that I did not want to send over to you. They're a lot more graphic, but I think law enforcement will have a better idea tomorrow. I think they're having a press conference.


No, they didn't. I mean, if -- you know, I'm sure you've seen the video all and in play. I know you didn't play all of it out of respect for the families and the individuals, but yes, that vehicle was traveling at a very, very fast pace. Now, whether he did it intentionally or lost control, we don't know at this time. But we do know that any time if you're driving that fast, and there's people around there, there will be some sort of reckless, maybe criminal action against that individual.

But we'll leave that up to the local law enforcement, but again, you know, I just feel bad for those migrants who were just standing there, waiting for the bus, and many of them did not make it, and some of them are, of course, in the hospital with very, very serious injuries.


Well, you know, first of all, are we ready? The answer is no. I think there are certain steps, policies that haven't been implemented and will be implemented, but I think they should have done that a long time ago, quite honestly. For example, the agreement with Panama and Canada to hold some of the folks from passing through the Darien Gap.

Some of the processing centers outside the U.S., the new policy rule that will come into place probably sometime next week that says that people -- there should be incentives for people to come the right way, through the ports of entry or through the app, and not in between ports or they will be returned.

Using asylum officers at the Border Patrol station, that is a first. I personally think that we should have judges there, and, you know, with all due respect, we've got to get those immigration judges out of their comfort zones and go there in the Border Patrol stations because the decisions that those judges will make will be final, one way or the other. Either they come in or they stay out.

But to let people come in on a notice to appear, it's unfair to them because most of them, quite honestly, doesn't matter if they're coming in for a better life or they're coming in because of crime, drought, or whatever the case, I have heard all those reasons why they're coming in, 88 percent to 90 percent of them are going to be rejected. So I don't think it's fair for them to come in and then be rejected at a later time.

But, again, we have to think outside the box. So to answer your question, are they ready? No. Do they have some good policies that I think if they implemented right, yes, it's going to help, but they should have done that earlier instead of waiting until the last minute. Playing defense on the one-yard-line called the U.S. border is not the right strategy.

And I'll tell you about a couple of things real quickly. The numbers that I have right now, there's about over 150 to 2,000 people that are staged on different parts of the border and people that are in shelters are waiting outside of shelters, doesn't include the type of people that you got in. This is only the border states, the northern border states with the U.S. Then you got the ones that are in Mexico, then you got the ones that are in Panama, Guatemala, the other countries, and you're talking about easily somewhere about 250,000 to 300,000 people that we know of, that we know of.

So it's going to be a rough patch for a while. You know, the 1500 soldiers, active soldiers that are coming in, you know, we've done this since Bush, Obama, or Trump. It's been done.

Keep in mind that on enforced immigration law, they just come in to provide support. It doesn't matter if it's a Democrat or Republican president, they're here to give support, so the agents can go out there and do their work instead of being sitting behind a desk.


You know, I think if you look at the bipartisan bill that we did on firearms, it did provide some of it, but when you look at it, you know, keep in mind that it's not only Congress. It's really society as a whole.

Let me explain by that, if you look at the different factors, it's a complex multi-faceted type of factors from mental illness to social isolation to easy access to guns, to, you know, trauma for childhood experiences, cultural factors, extremism like, you know, some of the ideology I think we might see in Allen. So there's different things, factors out there. You look at the different studies, you know, there's a strict gun law provide better safety.

You know, you know, and I have heard some of your guests already talk about, there is a Journal of Public Health that has one position, the Journal of Criminology has another one. Look at California, look at the ones in red states. So again, to look for a single bullet to say this is it, this is the reason, I think it's going to take a multi- faceted approach by not only Congress but really by society as a whole.


Yes, look, I believe in the Second Amendment. Yes, I believe in the Second Amendment. I did vote for red flags. I did vote to raise the age to 21. I did vote to put more money into mental health. I did vote for the bipartisan gun violence bill that we have. The Charlotte loopholes, universal background checks. I have done all that.

But, again, you know, if we focus on guns, as I said, it's a multi- faceted factors. What about the other issues? Social isolation, what about, you know, the ideology that involved? It's not a single approach to this, but I think if you look at it, if we look at the research, the research out there says that it's a multi-faceted approach that we need to look at.


And one more thing.


One more thing. A lot of these folks, they indicate, they give telltale signs. They'll get on social media. We just have to do a better job in making sure that we look at those signs in the future.


Well, again, we -- again, you know, I got three brothers who are law enforcement. They have to put things together. Again, I don't know why they're not doing this at this time, but I hope that they provide the information as soon as they have it to the public. I'm sure there are state, federal, and local law enforcement all working together, and hopefully they can put that information out to the public as soon as possible.