Border Patrol Chief Calls For ‘Consequences’ Against Illegal Migrants, Praises Partnership With Texas Authorities

[Screenshot/CBS News]

Hailey Gomez General Assignment Reporter
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Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens called for “consequences” against migrants entering the United States illegally Thursday on CBS News and praised the department’s partnership with Texas state officials.

Owens appeared in an exclusive interview with CBS News to discuss the ongoing crisis at the southern border. CBS News reporter Camilo Montoya-Galvez asked Owens his thoughts on what the department needed most to “deter” people from illegally crossing the border as encounters have hit record-high numbers.

As the Border Patrol chief described the consequences he believes would help slow down the border crisis, Owens called for actions such as “jail time,” being “removed” from the country, and possibly “banned” if someone is caught illegally crossing. (RELATED: Appeals Court Pumps The Brakes On Law Allowing Arrest Of Illegal Migrants Hours After Supreme Court Greenlights It)

“Everything revolves around being able to deliver a consequence for an action that you don’t want a person to commit … If people know that there’s going to be a consequence for breaking the law, they’re going to be less likely to do it,” Owens said. “The other piece of that is you need the agents out on patrol to be able to enforce that consequence.”

“Those two things together at a basic level are what makes up our border security apparatus,” he continued. “The other things are force multipliers for those agents that help them stay safe and help them do their job better. I’m talking about technology. I’m talking about infrastructure to be able to respond along the border. I’m talking about the right equipment, the training that they need to be safe. All of those things come into play to make those agents out on patrol better at stopping that activity and being able to deliver the consequences when somebody does.”

“And when you say consequences, you mean?” Montoya-Galvez asked.

“Jail time. I’m talking about jail time. I’m talking about being removed from the country and I’m talking about being banned from being able to come back because you chose to come in the illegal way instead of the established lawful pathways that we set for you,” Owens responded.

“And are you pushing for that? For more people to be detained, for more people to be removed?” Montoya-Galvez questioned.

“Yes. If they choose to come in illegally they have broken the laws and there has to be a consequence,” Owens responded. “Not because we don’t want people to be able to come into the country, far from it. But because we want them to be able to come into the country safely. We want them to be out of the hands of the smugglers. We don’t want money from that activity going into the pockets of the smugglers and we certainly don’t want the cartels to be able to exploit that situation that pulled our men and women off of the border security mission.”

Montoya-Galvez asked Owens about his support for Texas’ SB 4 legislation, which has continued to be tossed around between the courts and would allow Texas state officials to arrest illegal immigrants. While Owens declined to reveal his stance on the bill, he said that the department had “no better partner” than the Texas Department of Public Safety, which is a notably different tone than how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) previously described the relationship between the two agencies.

“So we’ll have to see what the courts decide on. I will tell you, it’s not going to stop us from doing our job. I’ll tell you that, especially in Texas, there’s no better partner for the Border Patrol than the Texas Department of Public Safety. We have worked hand in hand with that agency for as long as I’ve been around and I don’t see that ever stopping,” Owens stated.

“They have always been very good at complimenting our mission,” he went on. “They back us up when we’re out in the field, and we do for them, as well. So whatever the laws are, that they’re going to be enforcing our mission remains constant, their mission remains constant. And at the ground level, I don’t see that ever changing where we’re going to be there to work together to make sure that we keep the communities and our country safe.”

Texas state officials and the federal government have been in an ongoing battle over the state’s right to handle illegal immigration. While the Lone Star state has claimed that they have the Constitutional right to defend itself, the DHS accused state officials of “disrupting” federal operations and blocking Border Patrol after the state gained control over Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, Texas.