By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog
See update to this story below
U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., made headlines and raised eyebrows Tuesday when he declared “the border is secure.”
Reid cited New Mexico senator and fellow Democrat Martin Heinrich as the source for his statement as the country deals with tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors. Most are coming from Central America, crossing the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
Wednesday, Heinrich reiterated Reid’s statement.
“The border today is more secure than it has ever been,” Heinrich said on the Senate floor as members of both parties gave speeches about the crisis.
“The notion that lax border policies are somehow responsible for this latest crisis is not just a myth, it’s a willful misrepresentation driven by politicians who would rather create a political issue than to solve a very real problem,” Heinrich said.
Heinrich, who visited the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, N.M., last week and met with Homeland Security Department Secretary Jeh Johnson, sent a statement to New Mexico Watchdog through his press office saying the federal government spent $17.9 billion on immigration enforcement in fiscal 2012.
Earlier this week, Johnson announced that about 40 women and children from the center in Artesia were flown back to their home country of Honduras.
“There are more border patrol agents on the ground and more resources and technology deployed on the border than in any time in our nation’s history,” Heinrich said in the statement. “These resources have been effective.”
Heinrich went on to criticize “those who prefer a border crisis to a refugee crisis” and urged Senate Republicans to pass the $3.7 billion supplemental spending package proposed by President Obama and for House Republicans to vote on the immigration bill that passed the Senate earlier this year.
Some conservative commentators ridiculed Reid.
“When you hear Harry Reid saying the border is secure you got to wonder, you know, whether he’s on his medication or not. That is so detached from reality,” columnist Charles Krauthammer said on Fox News. “How many (unaccompanied minors do) we have now? 60,000 — at least — kids who come over. And we’re completely helpless.”
Here’s video of what Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday:
And here’s Heinrich on the Senate floor Wednesday:
Update 7/18: Greg Sargent, a blogger for the Washington Post who writes from a liberal perspective, wrote on Thursday that “Heinrich of New Mexico has been tasked by Senate Dem leaders to take the lead” in countering Republicans on the debate over the border crisis. Democrats “are aware they need to sharpen their case,” Sargent wrote.
Contact Rob Nikolewski at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski