U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Pilot Point, came prepared Monday afternoon.
He addressed the Denton Record-Chronicle’s editorial board during a livestreamed meeting, during which he covered a wide range of topics, nearly all relating to the current crisis at the southern border.
Below are five takeaways from the meeting:
1. Burgess says Border Patrol agents in an online hate group should be fired
Recent reporting from ProPublica uncovered a private Facebook group filled with disturbing content from current and former Customs and Border Patrol agents.
It included a digitally altered picture of President Donald Trump sexually assaulting U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York.
Asked whether that reporting uncovered a toxicity in the agency that no funding increase will solve, Burgess paused and said he didn’t have the answer.
He said he wouldn’t be surprised if congressional hearings on the issue begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday, though he could make no promises.
Depending on what comes out during those hearings, Burgess said one could expect to see some serious repercussions.
“I think consequences will be significant and severe and swift,” Burgess said.
Specifically, he suggested loss of employment and possible removal of retirement benefits for offenders.
This is not to be confused with similar, recent reporting from Reveal that uncovered hundreds of current and former law enforcement officers in Facebook hate groups.
“You shouldn’t do that if you’re a police officer, you just shouldn’t,” Burgess said.
2. Look to post-WWII reconstruction for help
Burgess said that several constituents have suggested a variant of the plan to rebuild Europe following the close of World War II.
“That seems like a realistic way forward, where it’s not all just tax dollars,” he said.
Under the hypothetical variant of the Marshall Plan, Burgess said that money would be diverted to nonprofits in the countries of origin for many migrants. He mentioned Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and others specifically.
In theory, improving conditions in the countries of origin for most migrants would make a dangerous trek to the U.S. less appealing.
“If we don’t worry about that problem, it becomes our problem here,” he said.
3. Federal agencies are doing their best in a hard time
Despite near-constant reports of terrible conditions in federal detention centers along the southern border, Burgess said that criticisms of Border Patrol agents are largely unfair.
Since roughly 144,000 people seeking asylum crossed the southern border in May alone, facilities operated by Border Patrol and the Office of Refugee Resettlement are dealing with unprecedented levels of overcrowding.
Regardless, he said it isn’t in anybody’s best interest to hastily move children through the facilities to sponsors. Without proper vetting, he said it’s possible that children could end up with predatory adults.
As an example, he pointed to a human trafficking scandal in 2014 where migrant children were lured to Ohio to work as slaves on an egg farm.
4. While sometimes tough, he supports the president
Seemingly switching gears while discussing his reason for participating in the livestreamed meeting, Burgess took a moment to voice his support of President Trump.
“I’m not going to lie to you: There’s days that it’s rough, there’s days I wake up and check the Twitter feed first thing,” he said.
Despite those patches of discomfort, Burgess maintained that no president during his time in politics has done more to disrupt the status quo and make substantial progress.
He offered discussions surrounding drug prices as an example.
5. Burgess isn’t new to border politics
As evidenced by a timeline he prepared for all attendees of Monday’s meeting, Burgess isn’t new to border politics.
He has made 10 trips to the southern border region in the past few years. While he has not been to the Border Patrol facility in Clint, a fact that added to recent criticisms directed at the congressman, he has plans to visit on July 19.
While he did not have specifics, he said he plans to have a local town hall meeting before the summer is over.