The following is a transcript of an interview with Mayor Victor Trevino of Laredo, Texas that aired on “Face the Nation” on May 14, 2023.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re now going to Mayor Victor Trevino to find out what’s happening on the southwest border of Texas in Laredo. Good morning.
MAYOR VICTOR TREVINA: Good morning. Thank you for having me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s great to have you here. A few days ago you said your city was being boarded up like a hurricane in preparation for the end of Title 42. Does your city have the resources it needs? Do you feel like the hurricane has passed?
TREVINA: Well, first of all, first of all, there’s no question that we’re seeing historic problems on our border. And as a doctor, I have already seen it. Even before Section 42 ended, our local hospitals were already at or near capacity, and there is no pediatric intensive care unit. But everything we’ve been doing since the state of emergency has been put on hold and we’re not overwhelmed at the moment. But yesterday we accepted about 700 migrants. And yet, as we receive overflow from El Paso and Brownsville, we are still on high alert. And until we see that the numbers in the detention centers of border guards are decreasing, we can say that the episode has passed.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You just said that there is no pediatric health center in your area. You said you are already underserved in the community. What is the health situation of migrants, especially children who arrive?
TREVINO: Yeah, they used to be mostly individuals, now they’re family groups. And families have children who have traveled miles and miles and will obviously need medical attention. So, because we don’t have a pediatric intensive care unit in our city, it’s a concern because we’re not working in our hospitals most of the time, and the ambulances sometimes have to wait outside the emergency room, or one or two hours, before they get there. we will be able to treat patients. There was a lot of concern about this spike, so we activated — we activated a disaster declaration.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The mayor of El Paso was just with us and he said he’s getting what he needs from the state and the federal government and he thanked Homeland Security. Do you agree? Are you getting what you need?
TREVINA: Well, we send buses and migrants come, they are processed, they are sent to our NGOs. And the number of migrants that we expect initially, a large flow, is not here yet. And a lot of that has to do with Mexico taking in some migrants. And so – the rules of the asylum have changed. You have to apply for asylum in different countries before you get here. And also the headline — Chapter 8 is changed, you have to, if you’re deported, you — you can be imprisoned for five years. And it was the TRO event that changed things a bit. You have to get a court date before you can be released, and – and the tension in – in the NGO.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah, you’re — you’re talking about all the things that the Biden administration has changed to essentially make it more difficult for people to come through asylum, even though there’s still that legal path, which is more complicated, meaning there are more restrictions. this. When you hear presidential candidates talk about closing the border, what do you think?
TREVINA: I don’t think it’s a Democratic or Republican problem. This is an American problem. And it should have been done a long time ago. Immigration reform is long overdue. And what we’re seeing now is the result of that, and as Americans have said, we have to do better as a country and as a leader of the free world. We are what we are, a humanitarian effort. But we also have to have laws to match and balance that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I think many Americans would agree with that. What do you see as the gap between the conversations in Washington and what you see on the ground?
TREVINA: I think that’s one of the reasons we have to get real-time information from the border guards and the people who work and live here, the border mayors. And cooperation is crucial. We need to establish these things and they need to listen and come here to see what the real situation is. And that’s the disconnect that I see — what’s happening. If they don’t get real-time information and a real perception of what’s going on, I think they can move on and make adequate rules.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, Doctor, Mr. Mayor, thank you for your time. Good luck to you.
And one quick note: I called Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol. So my apologies to those agents. This is border protection. We will be back soon