Texas Lawmaker Weighs in on Border Crisis: ‘No Doubt It’s a National Emergency’

Rep. Michael Cloud, R-Texas, joins the podcast to chat about how Republicans are trying to protect the lives of babies born alive after an attempted abortion, and how in his South Texas district, the border crisis is affecting people. Read the transcript, posted below, or listen to the podcast:

We also cover these stories:

  • As the crisis at the border continues, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is sending backup.
  • A White House employee alleges people who don’t meet criteria are getting security clearances.
  • One Democrat is trying to get rid of the Electoral College the old-fashioned way—by introducing a constitutional amendment.

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Daniel Davis: Joining me now in studio is Congressman Michael Cloud. He’s a Republican representing the 27th District of Texas. Congressman Cloud, welcome to the studio.

Rep. Michael Cloud: Thank you, it’s good to be here.

Davis: Congressman, one of the issues that you’ve given a lot of focus to in your time in Congress is the issue of protecting life, and it’s been in the news a lot in the last couple of months, for some reasons that aren’t so great. We saw the New York bill. We heard [Virginia] Gov. [Ralph] Northam’s comments.

In your chamber in the House right now, there’s a discharge petition that is circulating, being led by Congresswoman Ann Wagner, along with Steve Scalise, basically trying to force a vote on a bill that would protect infants that survive an abortion attempt.

This is going to come to a head this week. The window opens to trigger that vote. You were recently elected. When you got elected, did you really imagine that the issue of protecting born infants would be an issue in Congress?

Cloud: Right. Yeah, and that’s the thing. You knew issues about life would be certainly protecting the unborn, but who would have thought at this point that we’d be talking about children who are born alive, and whether or not we should protect their life? That’s just unconscionable, the fact that we’ve moved the playing field to that.

It’s just a sad state on where we’re at on that issue in our nation at this point. … The glimmer of hope is that it’s coming to the forefront as a point of conversation that you can see the American people are with us on this issue, and that we should value life and, certainly, there’s no disputing whether a child who’s born alive is alive and is a life worth protecting.

Davis: Right. The discharge petition needs to get to 218 votes to trigger a House vote on the issue, which would require 21 Democrats to switch over.

Cloud: Right.

Davis: Regardless of how that works out this week, what’s interesting is since the Gov. Northam comments, you’ve seen more polls coming out and actually a shift toward the pro-life side, a lot of Democrats even.

Cloud: Mm-hmm.

Davis: I’ve got a couple numbers here to share. From a recent poll by YouGov and Americans United for Life, 34% of Democrats now say they’re pro-life, and 80% of all Americans surveyed said that they oppose removing medical care from a viable child after birth, which is what this bill would do.

Cloud: Right.

Davis: How do you explain that disconnect between what seems to be a lot of actual Democratic voters from the politicians in the Democratic Party?

Cloud: I think a lot of it has to do with … who’s electing and nominating Democratic candidates.

As far as the general populous and feel of our nation, the heartbeat of our nation, certainly so many people of faith, this issue is extremely important to them. But you have this far-left fringe, this socialist movement even, this movement that devalues life and liberty that’s beginning to elect many of the nominees.

So, you’re seeing that extreme side have a grasp in our national politics that you wouldn’t have imagined would have even 10 years ago.

Davis: Yeah.

Cloud: And so, in the same way we would have said that socialism was on the dust heap of history, yet we’re talking about it again, who would have thought we would have been talking about a child born alive and whether or not it has value or not?

… To the normal people who lived throughout the nation, that’s an obvious question. You ask any child who’s … if this child born alive deserves to live, yes, of course it does.

Davis: When you speak to your constituents about this issue, is that pretty much the view mostly that you hear?

Cloud: Yes. So, on this issue, … aside from your very fringe, die-hard, this is a unanimous thing, a child born alive deserves to live and deserves to be protected.

… We’ve had this decades-long question about when does life begin? We all should know that at the first breath, at a very minimum, this child is alive. And of course, we’ve seen a lot of development over the last 50 years in scientific technology, even when it comes to protecting life of an unborn.

Fifty years ago, you can understand, maybe, I wouldn’t have agreed with it, but you could understand how somebody might say, “OK, we don’t really know what’s going on inside.” Ultrasounds were not common back then.

Today, we have 40 ultrasounds. We know a child feels pain at 20 weeks. We know there’s a heartbeat. We know there’s brain activity. We know there’s even emotions and smiling, and those kind of things already going on. So, there’s a strong case.

… Technologies have made this available to us, that we can see inside. We can peer inside and watch the wonderful development of a child, and understand that there’s actually life there. There’s something to be cherished, something to be valued, and certainly at a very minimum, a child born alive, it deserves to be valued.

Davis: Absolutely. Shifting to another issue in the news this week, border security, also an issue important to your constituents in South Texas.

Cloud: Yeah.

Davis: You represent a district, is it Corpus Christi, or just outside Corpus Christi?

Cloud: Corpus Christi is in the county that’s the southern most tip of my district.

Davis: OK.

Cloud: It goes up the coast, almost to Houston, and cuts over almost to Austin. And so, we’re the southern most Republican, I guess, in the state of Texas, and for years, we’ve known what’s called this fatal funnel. Two major highways from the border come through our district, go to Houston, and whether it’s drugs, or whether it’s human trafficking, it kind of follows what’s called that fatal funnel.

We had 19 migrants die in the back of a pickup truck some years ago, 10 minutes from my town, because of this callus regard for life. But, we’re seeing it at unprecedented levels, 80,000 people, I think, in February, crossing our border. I think last month, it was closer to 100,000.

We’re not equipped for this. We’re not ready to deal with this sort of situation, and these cases are coming over and claiming asylum, which is supposed to be a credible fear of prosecution. That’s different than wanting economic freedom, which we all do want, but our Founders gave us a model, and that is to be that shining city on a hill that says, “If you live by these principles, you can have a free and prosperous society.”

It’s not that we don’t care about these individuals, but imagine if 14, 20,000 people in Honduras marched on their capital, the kind of effect they can have on their nation for generations. So, it’s about the principles that sustained liberty and prosperity, and those principles, if people are not seeing those results in their nation, they should question the principles that their nation are being led by and work to affect change.

… We cannot immigrate 3 trillion people who are living in substandard living or developing nations into our country to heal the world. The way to heal the world is to be the champion for these principles that promote freedom and prosperity that we’ve seen throughout decades bring social uplift throughout the world—certainly in our nation and throughout the world—to have those principles propagated throughout the world and in governance across the world.

That’s how we see social uplift. That’s how we see people reach economic prosperity and be able to take care of their families and live the opportunities that we’ve been so blessed to live here in the United States.

Davis: Yeah, you mentioned that recent surge in migrants coming across just in the last couple of months.

Cloud: Right.

Davis: And Border Patrol is reporting that they are overwhelmed. They’re starting to release migrants into the country because they—

Cloud: Right.

Davis: … just can’t handle it, and they don’t have the resources from Washington to handle it.

Cloud: Mm-hmm.

Davis: With divided control of Congress, it looks difficult to move forward, but the president has declared a national emergency. How do you feel about that at this point?

Cloud: There’s no doubt that it’s a national emergency. There’s absolutely no doubt. One hundred thousand people a month potentially coming across the border, our resources are overwhelmed. We do not have enough people to handle it, and cartels are driving this.

It’s not like this sudden mass. Cartels are driving this because they want the chaos. It allows them to get drugs across our border, [and continue] trafficking humans. Many of these women who are in these caravans are being abused, and this is driven by cartels who have complete operational control across the southern border.

… I recently visited the border, and I was asking them, I said, “What’s the next win?” And this is before the 100,000 people come a month. “What’s the next win?” They said, “We just want operational … we want situational awareness. We want to have enough resources to understand what the cartels are doing. We’re not to the point that we’re mitigating it. We’re just trying to understand what’s going on.”

We’ve even taken a step back from that to where we’re having to close checkpoints and such because we’re so taxed and overwhelmed by the insurge and the influx of migrants. And cartels are doing this. They’re sending people one way.

Customs and Border [Protection] released a video the other day. They dropped a couple of young people, I think they were a couple of young ladies, into some barbed wire, some razor wire, so that our customs and border patrol people would leave their post to go deal with the human need. And then while they were dealing with these young people, they were just filtering people through the open checkpoint. This is the callus disregard that is at the border and we must deal with it.

Davis: Wow. … When it comes to these surges of migrants coming across, a lot of them are coming from Central America. We saw the president, I guess he cut foreign aid to several countries in Central America recently, although, I guess Congress will probably have something to say about that.

Do you see that as a positive move, trying to get those countries to do something to reduce the flow of migrants? Obviously, Mexico has shown some more willingness in recent months to try and help the administration.

Cloud: Right.

Davis: But you still have migrants coming across. What’s the responsibility there?

Cloud: This is a true humanitarian crisis, and it is one that should be dealt with with more than just us. We need to do everything we can at the border, but the more we can bring other nations on to realize that this is their problem, too, it’ll help the situation. So, I applaud any efforts to make this a multilateral solution.

Davis: When it comes to the border wall, of extending the wall across the entire border—I’m not actually sure where the wall is, with regard to your district in South Texas. Is there a wall near … Brownsville?

Cloud: Throughout the border, there’s wall in different regions.

Davis: Sections, yeah.

Cloud: Yeah. The Rio Grande Valley sector is where we’re seeing a lot of the issues right now, and it’s because they don’t have the kinds of protections that they do in other parts of the border. … The wall gets all the attention, but it’s not just about the wall. The wall is the backbone of a system.

We need the boots on the ground. We need the immigration judges. We need enough bed space to deal with the situation. We’ve got to even take a very targeted, strategic, I think, even a stronger stance against what the cartels are trying to do, and be a little more proactive instead of reactionary in those ways, and figure out the tools we can use to take it to the cartels, instead of constantly reacting to what they’re doing.

Davis: When you speak to your constituents on this issue, what are they sensing at this moment?

Cloud: In South Texas, we get it and we understand. When I came to Congress—I guess it was about eight, nine months ago—I was surprised … how many reps had no clue what was going on in the border. A number of them were against it, but because they’re not feeling the results of it.

Davis: Right.

Cloud: But in South Texas we get it. We know it. We see it. We see the drain on resources. Right now there’s a health crisis that’s coming. Diseases that we pretty much eradicated from the United States are now entering again through this situation.

You see the hospitals that are taxed, the school districts that are taxed, the counties who have to bury the migrants who are found dead on ranches, and, of course, the biggest thing is that these lives are being lost, and the counties are having to deal with this situation that’s not really part of their job description.

So, we’ve got to do what we can. Each life that’s lost is part of our responsibility because we did not secure the border. We have not done what we can to do it.

The wall is part of that system. It does slow people down. We have proof that it’s worked in the past. A number of reps … think the wall is this new idea. It’s like, “No, we’ve been building a wall for many decades now, and we have the statistical proof that it works very well.” … I guess, “Continue to build the border fence that we’ve been building for many decades” doesn’t fit on a poster or on a hat—

Davis: Right, right.

Cloud: … as well as “Build the wall.” But the truth is that this is a proven way to deal with the situation, and it’s part of a system that will work.

Davis: Well, Congressman Michael Cloud, really appreciate you coming in, taking the time to chat.

Cloud: Sure, thank you. It’s good to be here.

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