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Border Patrol union VP on relationship with Trump

Border Patrol union VP on relationship with Trump


In 2016 border security top
the president’s platform, and throughout his
presidency, that’s continued. – We’re building the wall,
as I said, faster than ever, and it will soon be almost one new mile a day. We’re looking for that. – [Lorraine] In
Arizona, construction
is currently underway to fortify the Mexican border. President Trump meets
regularly with agents. Most recently, last
week in Washington, D.C. the “PBS NewsHour”
captured the meeting and the special callout from
the president to Art Del Cueto. – [Donald] And Art Del Cueto. (crowd applauds) Art Del Cueto, we’re getting
better with that name, right. – [Lorraine] Del Cueto
is the vice president of the National
Border Patrol Union, he’s a native of Douglas and serves as an agent
in the Tucson sector. Days after the meeting, Del
Cueto joined me in studio and told me about his
relationship with the president. – You know, it’s
not a huge union by any standards obviously, but it’s obviously
the hot topic. So we have had meetings
with the president. We’ve been able to sit
down and talk to him in the oval office
several times, and he asked for the opinion. He asked for what
agents are needing, and we’re very open about
it, not just myself, but obviously Brandon Judd
who is the national president, he gets to speak with
him a lot more often, and I think we’re very thorough and we explain exactly
what the needs are. Sometimes it’s frustrating
because I know agents come back and say, “Well, we needed
this, we needed that.” But there’s also
Congress in the way. So the president can’t
just wave his magic wand and make everything the
way that we need it. – You know though there
are people who will say he does wave his magic
wand and do what he wants, given the border wall that
we’re seeing being built up here in Arizona, waiving
environmental laws. Have you been part
of those discussions saying the 30-foot bollard and being able to see through
what’s happening into Mexico? – We have, so that
was one of the things that we did discuss obviously
that we’ve always said we would like some type of
barrier where we can see through and see what’s happening
on the other side and that prevents individuals
from the Mexican side that’ll actually come up,
throw things over the wall and attack some of our agents. I think that’s what’s important. So when it comes to him
waving a magic wand, I think if he would’ve
waved that magic wand or if he had the
opportunity to do that, we would’ve already had the wall and nobody would be
saying anything about it. But obviously it’s
been a slow process. What’s interesting is
people complain about having the wall and
then they turn around and they say, “Well, the
wall hasn’t been built.” You can’t have it both ways. You can either say,
“It has been built,” or, “It hasn’t.” There’s areas where the
wall has been reconstructed and those are areas that
we already have a wall. But what I do
wanna point out is, it’s been reconstructed with much better type of
barrier than was there before. The easiest way that I’ve
always had to describe it is, if you have an empty lot
with just a shack on it and you destroy that shack
and now you build a house, two-story, you had running
water and everything else, then it essentially
is a new home. And I think that’s the way
we see the area of the wall that’s been rebuilt, it
needed to be rebuilt. – This wall is
very controversial. You have people who’ll say, “Well, once it’s
done being fortified, “you can walk around it. “They’ll still be
able to penetrate it.” How do you sell
the skeptics on it? – I think the biggest
issue that I’ve seen, and I’ve talked to individuals
on both sides of the aisle and that’s I think
what’s important. I believe that border security
is something that we all, if we sit down and
we talk about it and we see the logistics
and the reality of it, we’re going to agree on it,
and I’ve told individuals, whether you’re on the
right side of the aisle or the left side of the
aisle, at the end of the day when you go home, you
still lock your doors, and you lock ’em because you
want security for your home. When you go to a store, when
you go to a shopping center, you lock your car
door and you do that because you want security
for the things that you own and the things that you
have in your vehicle. Our nation’s borders should
not be any different. We need that wall
for that purpose. Now, if you lock
your door at night, that’s not gonna
prevent individuals from still breaking in,
but you still do it. If you lock your car doors, that’s not gonna prevent your
vehicle from being stolen, but you still do it because
it’s an extra barrier between you and individuals that try to do
some type of harm. Now, when it comes to the
barrier on our nation’s border, what it does is, it
is that extra barrier. Now, can people still climb
over it, dig under it, build a tunnel, walk around it? Of course they can. However, then the agencies that are in charge of
protecting our borders are able to send
agents in those areas that are more
susceptible for entries and at the same time,
that barrier slows down the individuals trying
to enter our country so agents can respond
to those areas. – Sometimes the president
uses the agencies under Department of Homeland
Security interchangeably. Does he ever get things wrong? What’s he missing from
this conversation? – No, I think it’s difficult. That’s actually a
fantastic question because I think it is difficult. I get more frustrated
with individuals in the media,
especially out here. So we’re in Southern
Arizona, so this isn’t new, the immigration issue
isn’t new to a lot of us. The different agencies
that are involved in the immigration issues should
not be new to a lot of us, but what is upsetting is, I
think the media gets it wrong a lot of times,
there are stories that are covering individuals that work at the port of
entry or they’re stories that cover individuals
that worked for ICE, but the media always
seems to throw border patrol pictures
there as their poster child for anything
immigration related. – And that then
challenges the narrative the public is consuming. – Correct. – You’ve shared the stage
with the president since 2016. We’ve seen videos,
press conferences. How would you describe
your relationship with him? – You know, I think
it’s, I don’t know, man. Sometimes I go back and forth,
and I think it’s surreal that I’m even there at
times, but the reality is, I’ve been able to speak with
the president very frank. He’s very open to
some of the things that we have had to say. And it’s hard to say, right, because he is the
president of United States. I don’t want to come
out here and say, “Oh, Art Del Cueto said
he’s real good friends “with the president.” No, obviously we talk
about different issues. We concentrate on border issues. We concentrate on the
needs of the agents, but at the same time we’ve been
able to share conversations about personal things
once in a while. – Okay, Art, thank you. – Thank you for having me.

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