Chris Cabrera, a Border Patrol agent and spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council, appeared on CNN Tuesday afternoon with anchor Brooke Baldwin to talk about the immigration crisis at the Southern border. Cabrera spoke from McAllen, Texas.
Baldwin tried to get Cabrera to concede to her liberal viewpoint on the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ crackdown on illegal immigration but Cabrera wasn’t playing her game. Baldwin played the tape of the crying migrant children and tried repeatedly to get Cabrera to condemning the Trump administration’s enforcement of immigration law but Cabrera demurred.
Instead, Cabrera gave Baldwin and CNN viewers an education on the deadly horrors migrant children are forced to experience because of the parents or others who use and abuse them to illegally cross the border.
CNN video posted to YouTube. Below the video is the complete transcript from CNN. (H/t Benny Johnson, Daily Caller.)
“I want to get back now just to these voices that we can’t hear enough of from this crisis on the border, these young children who have been taken from their parents.
Audio of their cries comes from the nonprofit news outlet ProPublica. It reports these children are somewhere between the years of 4 and 10.
The reporting also captured the words of border agents caring for them.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD (through translator): Daddy!
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD (through translator): Daddy! Daddy!
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD (through translator): Mommy!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Well, we have an orchestra here, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What we’re missing is a conductor.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BALDWIN: With me now from McAllen, Texas, Border Patrol agent Chris Cabrera. He’s also the spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council.
Chris, thank you so much for being with me.
CHRIS CABRERA, BORDER PATROL AGENT: No, thank you for having me.
BALDWIN: Listen, I know you’re a father. I know you’re a father of four.
I know this is hard for you too. But when you hear that audio where one of these agents refers to the cries of children, he says (SPEAKING SPANISH) right? “We have an orchestra.”
What did you think?
CABRERA: Actually, this is the first I’m hearing.
I mean, I try and distance myself a lot of — from a lot of this. I think the real issue we need to get at here is, we need to solve this problem.
BALDWIN: But, Chris,, hang on, hang on. I can’t let you off the hook. Hang on.
But if that is — that is the audio, even if you’re hearing it for the first time, and you hear this Border Patrol hearing saying — speaking about the cries of children, saying, “We have an orchestra,” and then the next one says, “Well, all we need is a conductor,” I need to have you respond to that.
CABRERA: Well, I mean, it’s probably — you know, like I said, I wasn’t there. I don’t know.
And, you know, it’s — they’re probably just making light of a bad situation. It is what it is, you know? You can’t change that.
BALDWIN: Hang on, hang on, hang on. (CROSSTALK)
CABRERA: You can’t change the fact that that is what it is.
BALDWIN: But, Chris — but making light of a bad situation, why should you ever make light of these children being ripped from their parents, period?
CABRERA: Well, you know, look at it this way.
I understand where you’re coming from. I don’t think everybody understands what’s actually happening down here. You have a lot of these kids that are coming down here and put through terrible, terrible situations by their parents.
They’re brought over in extremely dangerous conditions and in extremely dangerous terrain. And all this can be avoided if they just go through the port of entry. There would be no crime committed by them and they wouldn’t get separated.
Why don’t they do this is beyond me. But this problem is very easily solved, at least on the short-term basis, by going through the port of entry. If they choose to go through the river, they’re committing a crime. Just like anyone else, they’re subject to arrest.
And we all know, when you get arrested, you don’t get to stay with your family. It’s just the sad reality of life.
BALDWIN: So, a couple of things.
And I think you’re right to point out the port of entry — I think there’s so much being thrown at people who don’t know as much about immigration certainly as you do as a Border Patrol agent, right?
But there a couple of ways to come into this country. If you are an undocumented immigrant and you are in the Rio Grande River and you come out on the other side, that is illegal, right? If you are coming across from the…
CABRERA: Even if you’re a U.S. citizen and you do that, it’s illegal.
BALDWIN: It’s illegal. It’s illegal.
If you’re coming across the — let’s say the Matamoros, Mexico, bridge on over to Texas at — across that bridge at that port of entry and you’re seeking asylum, that is legal. I know you have to be inspected and the process needs to be — needs to happen to be appropriate.
But the problem is, even in some of those cases, those families — I talked to an NPR reporter yesterday — some of those families are being turned away. And it’s not just a day delay. It’s an indefinite delay.
CABRERA: Well, and therein lies the problem.
We have had this situation going on for four years now. And for some reason, we haven’t fixed it. I don’t think you can necessarily blame it on one administration or the other. It started under one, and it’s continuing under — under another. It hasn’t — it hasn’t been fixed and it needs to be fixed.
Right now, we have this beacon of we will leave the light on for you, you come across illegally, and we will let you into the country. And if you guys have seen some of the stuff that we have seen down here, you would understand just how important it is to have a tough stance, to divert people from coming here.
When you see a 12-year-old girl with a Plan B pill or with their — their parents put her on birth control because they know that getting violated as part of a journey, that’s just a terrible way to live.
CABRERA: When you see a 4-year-old girl traveling completely alone with just her parents’ phone number written across her shirt, I mean, come on now.
Something needs to be done. We had a 9-year-old boy last year have a heatstroke and die in front of us with no family around. And that’s because we’re allowing people to continue to take advantage of this system.
And let’s be honest here. If we want the law changed, then we need to do — that’s on Congress. That’s on nobody else but Congress. They need to come in there. They need to get to work and they need to change this law.
Until then, us, as Border Patrol agents, we have a duty to enforce these laws. And we will continue to do it, until they change this law. And, hopefully, they will.
And just — let me just underscore some of what you’re saying. Seeing a 9-year-old boy suffering heatstroke, seeing young girls come to you with Plan B or birth control pills because their parents provide them for them because they know the journey involve them being raped, this is what you are seeing. And I can’t even begin, Chris, to put myself in your shoes.
But keeping the focus on the kids, America is outraged by what is happening. And I want you, as a Border Patrol agent, can you assure everyone watching that you and your Border Patrol colleagues are treating these children humanely?
CABRERA: I can tell you with absolute certainty that they’re being treated humanely.
Most of our agents are parents. I have seen guys — and I have done it myself — you give your last bottle of water to a kid. You will take a toy out of your car to give to one of these kids because you know the situation they’re in.
CABRERA: Agents are very sympathetic. We’re human. We’re fathers. We have families. We do a lot for the communities here, whether or not a camera is involved.
Our agents are very involved. And nobody saves more lives along the southwestern border than the U.S. Border Patrol. And I can tell you for a fact one of the worst things that you would ever have to do is have to pull the body of a young kid out of the river because they were crossing and they just didn’t make it.
So, something needs to change, so we can avoid some of these tragedies that happen. Granted, having these kids in detention centers, obviously, it’s not ideal.
CABRERA: But it’s far better than the alternative, a lot of these kids not making it.
BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.
And I know you say ultimately it’s up to you. You’re doing your job. But I know you say it’s up Congress.
But, actually, it is up to President Trump. I mean, they don’t have to separate these children from their parents. That is what’s different from, say, under the Obama administration vs. now.
So, Chris, just straight up, do you think the president should right now end this policy of separating families?
CABRERA: I think — I think you’re wrong there. It is a law.
And the law needs to be enforced, regardless — if we don’t like the law, we can’t just decide which law we’re going…
BALDWIN: What is the law?
CABRERA: As far — if you come across that river illegally, you’re subject to arrest and to prosecution. And you will get arrested and you will get prosecuted.
BALDWIN: But this is the difference, Chris.
CABRERA: If you don’t like that option, then you can go through the port of entry.
BALDWIN: Listen, I absolutely hear you. And I respect that law.
CABRERA: Say again?
BALDWIN: I hear you. And I respect that law.
But there is no law on the books that says if a family comes over illegally, that the parents and the children need to be separated.
It’s a zero tolerance policy that the Trump administration put into place this spring. That’s the difference between now and a couple years ago.
Well, and the thing is, is, not every family is getting separated. Some are. Some aren’t. It depends on the circumstances, if you have a criminal history.
For instance, just a couple of days ago, we caught a guy coming across with his 5-year-old daughter. And we had to separate that family, reason being he had a criminal conviction and he was subject to prosecution. He had a criminal conviction for rape here in the United States.
So, I mean, obviously, we wouldn’t want that guy walking free. But we had to separate that family.
BALDWIN: No. Sure.
CABRERA: I don’t see anybody up in arms over that one.
BALDWIN: Sure. No. And I think that, yes, if you’re a criminal…
BALDWIN: Go ahead. Go ahead. What happens to the little girl?
She’s going to get — she got — she gets placed in a center, until they can find some family that they can place her with, whether it’s here in the United States or back in her home country.
And another thing that we look at is we get all the time, daily, that people are claiming to be family units, and they’re not. And that’s very dangerous for these kids. If we don’t find those — I mean, what can come of those kids once this adult doesn’t have the need for this child anymore?
And I know some children are used as mules, are they not? Some children, Chris, are used — are used as mules. Some of this is nefarious. It’s not all just a family.
Can you still hear me?
CABRERA: Yes. You know, yes, it is. Some of these children are used like that. And it’s a shame. And I think the other thing that needs to be looked at here is, we do have a lot of unaccompanied children coming over.
And the fact remains is, the parents are already here in the United States. And they’re sending for these kids. And these kids are traveling solo across two or three countries. And, when they get here, they are reunited with your — the families.
And, to me, that is mind-blowing, because you can’t do that as a United States citizen. You can’t send your 5-year-old kid to ride on top of a train through three states, and when they get there, they’re coming back to you.
You would get prosecuted. Yet when it comes to illegal families, we put on the kid gloves with them and we don’t — we don’t look out for the best interest of this child. And that’s another thing that needs to be changed.
Chris Cabrera, as a Border Patrol agent, we just haven’t heard from as many of you all. And I appreciate you coming on live national TV to explain what your job is like and enforcing it, and also just what you see in being a father. I appreciate you. I appreciate your voice. Thank you.
CABRERA: All right, thank you for having me.
BALDWIN: Thank you.”