Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. convened a press conference yesterday in Austin, Texas, to address the ongoing immigration and border situation that he defined as a humanitarian crisis, in which migrants suffer from rapacious drug and human trafficking cartels, as well as unscrupulous employers once they arrive.
Flanked by a diverse group of supporters and concerned citizens, Jr., an environmental lawyer who is challenging President Joe Biden for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination, confronted the pressing issue with a firm stance on border security that highlighted humanitarian compassion, in contrast to the way xenophobic Republicans have exploited immigration without alleviating the border crisis.
Kennedy referred to New York Mayor Eric Adams’ statement that the flood of immigrants is destroying his city, when he observed, “Every city in this country has now become a border town.”
The mayor of Eagle Pass, Texas, just declared a state of emergency. Its health and safety services are utterly overwhelmed as thousands of migrants surge into the city.
He made the point that the border crisis is first and foremost a humanitarian crisis, in which migrants suffer from rapacious drug and human trafficking cartels, as well as unscrupulous employers once they arrive. “They can never make enough money to get off the street,” Kennedy said.
Los Angeles police arrested an armed man who was carrying a U.S. Marshal badge and falsely claimed to be part of Kennedy’s security team outside the Wilshire Ebell Theatre where Biden’s Democratic challenger was giving a speech to mark Hispanic Heritage Month about two miles away from where his father, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, was assassinated in 1968.
Commenting on the Biden administration’s recent announcement of work permits for 470,000 Venezuelan immigrants, Kennedy said, “Giving 470,000 migrants work visas is a signal to the rest of the world that anyone who comes to this country is going to get a work visa. And that’s the last thing we want to signal at this point. Until the border is secure, we should not be talking about work visas for anybody.”
Kennedy had harsh criticism for Biden’s border policies, which triggered a surge in migrants since they were put in place by the administration in May.
“Since Biden was elected, 7 million immigrants have come across the border illegally,” he said. In the same period, just 3.1 million arrived legally. What that means is the Mexican drug cartels are driving American border policy.”
But he also struck a note of bipartisan unity. Kennedy said, “We need unity. This shouldn’t be a Democratic issue or a Republic issue. The Democrats who have been urging an open border policy need to look at the evidence now and rethink their positions. And we need to quickly secure the borders. Then we can think about work permits or amnesty programs. But we can’t sell those to the American people until the borders are closed and the frontiers are secure.”
Following the event, Kennedy issued the following statement: “As President, I will make the border impenetrable to illegal migrants, but we can’t afford to wait a year and a half for that to happen. That is why I am calling on Democratic and Republican leaders to unify on this issue. I’m asking Democrats in particular to reexamine their assumption that a loose border is somehow more compassionate. It is not. It has created a humanitarian crisis for the migrants that is now destroying our cities, crushing our social services, and harming the working poor by undercutting their wages.”