Will immigration crisis become Obama's 'Katrina moment'?

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," July 7, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


QUESTION: You say there's an urgent humanitarian situation. Are you not at all concerned about the optics that the president can fly to Texas to raise political money, but he can't go see this urgent humanitarian situation?

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're not worried about those optics, George, and that's simply because the president is very aware of the situation that exists on the Southwest border.


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Very aware, so he doesn't need to see the border for himself.

That isn't exactly flying with Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar from the fine state of Texas. He says the president is one step behind on this mess.

The congressman now joins me on the phone.

So, Congressman, by that, I take it you -- you mean he should be seeing the border?

REP. HENRY CUELLAR, D-TEXAS: Well, I hope this doesn't become President Obama's Katrina moment.

I'm sure that President Bush thought the same thing, that he could just look at everything from up in the sky, and then he owned it after -- for a long time. So, I hope this doesn't become the Katrina moment for President Obama, saying that he doesn't need to come to border.

He should come down. Not only Governor Perry has asked him to come down, but I know my colleagues Filemon Vela and Ruben Hinojosa invited him to come down. And I certainly would ask him to come in, even though I still think he is still one step behind.

But he should come down to the border to see exactly what is happening.

CAVUTO: And do what?

CUELLAR: Well, I think, as the leader, you should see what is happening when 1,200 or 1,300 individuals are crossing into the U.S., and 20 percent are kids with no parents, when 500 individuals are being released at bus stations, family members, every single day from Laredo down to the Valley; 500 individuals are sent by the bus and they can go anywhere in the U.S.

That doesn't even include the unaccompanied kids. I mean, I think this is not only a humanitarian crisis, but I think it has some homeland issues that we need to address also.

CAVUTO: Have you raised these issues with the president? I know you're close to him. I mean, the White House has been arguing -- I'm paraphrasing here -- that's it's been kind of blindsided by this whole busing thing. Do you believe that?

CUELLAR: Well, you know, again, a long time ago, a month ago, I sent a letter giving them my suggestions on how we ought to set up a one-stop center where we actually have immigration judges down there, we have the detentions, we do the removals, just the way we treat contiguous countries like Mexico and Canada, in this case mainly Mexico. And you do everything down there

But I never got a response. Senator Cornyn and I also sent a letter asking about the status, how the kids are going to be treated. We never got a response. So, unfortunately, we have not gotten those response.

Now, I do have to say that Secretary Johnson is trying to do his best. I have talked to him on one occasion. And I hope that he gets support, because I will say this. This did not happen overnight. If you look at it, in last -- in 2013, there were already 25,000 kids that had come in. So this is something that just didn't happen from one day to the other. It had been happening...


CAVUTO: Do you believe, then, Congressman, it's possible for agents not to see a bus, let alone a lot of buses, carrying folks to the United States?

CUELLAR: Well, if those buses start off at the Guatemalan border and they come through Mexico, there's no way that Mexico cannot see what is happening right now.

As you know, Border Patrol intelligence has basically told us -- has told us that there's buses coming into South Texas, at least across the river, and then they're -- they're directed or come across the river and turn themselves in.

So, this is something that being -- part of the issue is, why are the coming through South Texas? Well, if you're a smuggler and you're charging $5,000 per individual, average, and the month of May, 48,000 came through just. Texas, 48,000 times $5,000, that's $240 million a year -- I mean a month, that they made in the month of May.

CAVUTO: And they don't all go back, do they? Even when discovered, they don't always go back to Mexico. I don't know where the heck they go.

CUELLAR: Well, you know, put it this way.

If you're an adult from Central America, there are trips -- there's about 20 or 25 ICE planes or charter planes that go back every week. If you're -- under the human trafficking act, if you're Mexican or a contiguous country, Canada, but in this case Mexico, then women, children, adults are -- will -- will be removed pretty quickly.

But if you're a noncontiguous countries, like Central American countries in this...


CAVUTO: You can go wherever you want.

CUELLAR: You get a notice to appear.

CAVUTO: Right.

CUELLAR: And, like I said, I was at the bus station a couple days ago.

CAVUTO: Right.

CUELLAR: And we saw at least 250 individuals there.

CAVUTO: All right. They don't have to appear.

Congressman, thank you very much. Keep us posted.

CUELLAR: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.

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