Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Texas last week to participate in fundraising events in San Antonio and Dallas, a roundtable discussion with U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the Rio Grande Valley, and a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Vice President began his trip on Friday in downtown San Antonio at a Republican National Committee donor luncheon for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign at the Westin Riverwalk.
Afterwards, Pence traveled south to McAllen, along with his wife Karen, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas), Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, to discuss “the need to secure America’s borders.”
Pence was greeted by McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, who claimed to welcome him to “the safest city in the state of Texas.” However, the reason for Pence’s visit proved otherwise.
His visit consisted of a trip to the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge, a boat tour of the Rio Grande river, a walk along the border levee wall in Hidalgo, and a border security briefing with local federal officials.
After touring the area, he reiterated President Trump’s commitment to “moving legislation in Congress that keeps our promise to build a wall.”
Pence then attended a 30-minute briefing with Border Patrol RGV Sector Chief Manuel Padilla, CBP Director of Field Operations in Laredo David Higgerson, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Ryan K. Patrick, Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra, and various other federal law enforcement officials.
Within their talks, Pence reported on the statistics in the last eight months regarding illegal immigration. “2017 saw a 300 percent increase in unaccompanied minors as well, and a 600 percent increase in family units crossing the border illegally.” Padilla also explained that the largest percentage of apprehensions in the United States: 45 percent of all human trafficking, and 30 percent of all narcotics, occurred in the Rio Grande Valley last year along the U.S.-Mexico border. Padilla reportedly said he informed Pence that the border is unsecure, however the Valley is safe.
Pence and his entourage were in the Rio Grande Valley for about four hours, before departing to Dallas.
On Saturday, he participated in two speaking events in Dallas, beginning his morning with the America First PAC at the Sheraton in downtown Dallas. Accompanied with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, their message was tax reform.
However, he began by shifting his tone towards the school shootings in Florida last week as he recalled his last visit to Sutherland Springs.
“The heartache in Broward County [Florida] is unimaginable, but it’s a heartache Texas knows too well,” Pence said. “Then as now, hearts are broken. Then as now, heroes were forged.”
Pence ended his trip to Texas at the Dallas County Republican Party’s annual Reagan Day Dinner, which organizers said was their most successful ever.