Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner Robert Perez said Friday that “Congress needs to act" further to address the humanitarian crisis along the southern border.
“We absolutely need to put integrity back into the system and we need Congress to act,” Perez told "Fox & Friends."
“It took nearly two months to get Congress to act on the supplemental request to provide 4.5 billion dollars for the humanitarian piece of this crisis.".
While House Democrats expressed concerns about the treatment of migrants at the southern border during a House Oversight Committee hearing on Thursday, Perez denied Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's suggestion of a “dehumanizing culture” within the agency.
Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., questioned Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan about provocative graphic memes aimed at her on Facebook by Custom and Border Protection employees.
The New York Democrat asked McAleenan whether the agents’ separation of children from their families contributed to a “dehumanizing culture.”
“We are a culture of front line agents and officers, men and women, who have already affected 4,000 rescues, risking our own lives for the sake of rescuing people who find themselves in danger trying to, more often than not, illegally cross the border,” Perez responded, noting his 26 years on the job.
He said the culture among agents is to protect communities from gangs, drug traffickers and other criminals.
Perez also updated on the progress made in building the border wall, confirming that over two-and-a-half years, construction of “over 51 miles of new and enduring capability along our southwest border” has been completed.
He said construction took place and will resume along the border of southern California and El Paso, Texas.
“We will soon be building in Yuma, Arizona as well,” Perez added.