Fox News hourlong special revisits border security as midterms approach

Migrants walk along concertina wire toward Border Patrol officers after illegally crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico into the U.S. at Eagle Pass, Texas, Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. (Eric Gay | AP)

A special broadcast focusing on border security featured two members of congress from the Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday who agreed with the conservative outlet’s suggestion that the Biden administration has more work to do along the Texas-Mexico border.

Fox News’ Harris Faulkner hosted the hourlong episode that featured footage from Eagle Pass and the broader Maverick and Kinney county area. It is the second special broadcast dedicated to the border in two months.

“Do we have sovereignty as a nation?” Faulkner asked Jon Aninsen, a member of the Border Patrol Council in Del Rio.

“I suppose we should. We do, right? But I, I don’t know any more,” he told her.

Faulkner traveled with the Texas Department of Public Safety, interviewed its spokesperson, a member of the Border Patrol council, a rancher, a sheriff and public officials. Notably absent were any interviews with migrants who were arrested on camera or standing behind Faulkner as she spoke about the “Biden-made crisis.”

Eagle Pass is part of the Del Rio sector managed by Border Patrol. Over the last fiscal year, it’s seen tremendous growth in the number of people crossing through that area. In June, for the first time in over a decade, more people crossed into the U.S. through that region than through the Rio Grande Valley, the “busiest sector” of the last ten years.

“We know Border Patrol has apprehended a record 2 million illegal immigrants, but note that’s a fiscal year record, and the fiscal year is not even over yet,” Faulkner said.

The total number of people encountered by border officials this fiscal year is closer to 2.5 million. However, the total does not reflect the number of people who crossed.

According to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, over a quarter (27%) of those who were encountered were people who crossed into the U.S. more than once. A more precise accounting of that rate estimates the total number of crossers is much lower than CBP data suggests, according to a nonpartisan group using Freedom of Information Act requests.

Faulkner’s hour-long special took officials to task about the measures taken in border communities by the federal government to bring down the number of encounters.

“Since President Biden took office, the number is 3.5 million so far,” Faulkner added, “So what will it look like for the next two years of his presidency?”

Guests included U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar, of Laredo. Mayra Flores, of Brownsville, Mark Brnovich, of Arizona and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who appeared in person even though he fled from authorities trying to serve him a subpoena on Monday, according to the Texas Tribune.

“If you look at the policies that were in place when Trump was here, we had this under control,” Paxton said. “We were making progress in the right direction, and the idea of building a wall and using Title 42 and stopping the catch and release and the remain in Mexico program, those were all working.”

Title 42 is a public-health policy implemented in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic. It is not an immigration policy, though it is temporarily leveraged to keep migrants out of the U.S. due to the spread of COVID-19.

Another policy, the Remain in Mexico program, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, was challenged in courts due to its interpretation of asylum law and the risk migrant families were exposed to in border cities.

Local representatives are split on the approach.

“What I want to see is have more personnel, Border Patrol down there coordinating with the local police – sheriffs and DPS,” Cuellar told Faulkner, who asked the congressman what he was doing to address immigration at the border.

Faulkner pressed Cuellar on the construction of a border wall.

“Your people need a fully built primary wall down there in the Del Rio sector, and they need it now. What are you doing about it?” she asked the congressman.

Cuellar replied with his usual answer, saying he believes the answer is more technology, deportations and resources on the ground. Cuellar, however, has previously made his position clear.

“A fence is a 14th century solution to a 21st century problem,” Cuellar had said about the border wall.

The District 28 congressman said he’s tried telling the Biden administration about his proposals, but when Faulkner asked if Cuellar believes they have listened to him, he said, “No. No they’re not.”

District 34 U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores listened as Cuellar responded and followed up when prompted by Faulkner.

“What would you say to him?” Faulkner asked Flores.

“It’s clear that the Biden administration doesn’t care about South Texas. Doesn’t even care about what Henry Cuellar is saying,” Flores said. “That should be a sign to Henry Cuellar that he should no longer be supporting the Democrat Party that doesn’t even care to hear his cries and his concerns that he has for his own district. And he should have stepped away from the party that no longer represents us in South Texas.”

Flores, an immigrant who gained entry to the United States through her father’s citizenship, admitted that the process to enter the country is “broken.”

“We do need to improve the legal process. It takes 15 to 20 years to be able to come here to the United States,” Flores said.

Some people from countries with high-levels of immigration, like Mexico or China, have to wait anywhere from 19 to 24 years for visas to become available, according to the American Immigration Council.

Flores also supports the bipartisan bill, Farm Workforce Modernization Act, that would create legal pathways to citizenship for undocumented farmworkers living in the United States to address a critical labor shortage in the agriculture industry.

Faulkner’s broadcast ended with a question that many have posed to the president.

“I left the border with a single thought, a question for President Biden: How can the President of the United States fix his policy-aided crisis if he doesn’t see it?”

The cry is similar to one Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez made this summer as the federal administration contemplated ending the pandemic-induced policy known as Title 42.