WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., said that the southern border is controlled by Mexican criminal organizations and not the United States.
Bridenstine was appearing on Fox News when he made the comments Monday.
“We don’t control the southern border of the United States the way the law requires right now but the transnational criminal organizations in northern Mexico, they control the southern border on the south side of the border,” Bridenstine told Fox News. “If you pay them enough money you get into our country,” and that many immigrants “remain illegal residents in perpetuity.”
The representative from Oklahoma added children are endangered by the dangerous criminal organizations since the border is not secured.
“There are a lot of children there that have suffered on the trek to the United States of America,” Bridenstine told Fox News. “We’re talking about cases where people were abused. When you pay criminal organizations to transport children, you’re putting your children in harm’s way. If you don’t pay enough money your children could be subject to forced labor, forced prostitution, sold in the slave trade, and in many cases many cases death. There are mass graves in northern Mexico because somebody didn’t pay the right criminal organization.”
Bridenstine explained further that the children are being released to non-citizens who cannot easily be subjected to background checks.
“What I found out was a lot are being released to folks in the United States of America who are not legal citizens of our country,” he told Fox News. “As such, it is very difficult to do a criminal background check, if not impossible.”
Bridenstine, along with Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., visited Fort Sill Army Post in Oklahoma Saturday where some of the more than 57,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the U.S. illegally since October are being held. Most are children and teens from Central America.
“This is a humanitarian crisis in our country that we have to figure out,” said Bridenstine.
“It’s horrendous,” Bridenstine said, adding that conditions in Central America may be dangerous, but it is far more dangerous to turn children over to human traffickers.
“This is about protecting the children,” Bridenstine said.
Blackburn said the U.S. should reduce financial aid to the nations the children are fleeing, in order to pay the cost of caring for them while they remain in the U.S.
“We need to let these countries know that we will take the cost of this from their foreign aid accounts,” Blackburn said.
Blackburn said she opposes President Barack Obama’s call for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to deal with the crisis along the nation’s southern border.
“Money has been appropriated for border security,” she said. “People are coming because they think if you get here you can stay. It is imperative that we let these countries know that there is not an entry mat.”
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