Jindal goes to Mexico border for firsthand look
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said he saw three groups of people try to illegally cross into Texas from Mexico when he traveled Monday to the border to get a closer look at the nation's immigration crisis.
The Republican governor received a helicopter view of the area, took a boat tour up the Rio Grande River and spoke with public safety officials about the influx of people illegally entering the United States.
People were floating in the river, walking across a dam and trying to wade through shallow water to get into Texas, and state officials reported them to the U.S. Border Patrol, according to the governor.
Jindal, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, blamed President Barack Obama for creating a climate that encouraged larger numbers of people to try to come to the country unlawfully.
"What we saw today were the results of the failure of the federal government to secure the border. You know, it's really not that complicated. It really is a lack of will at this point, a lack of execution, a lack of competence," Jindal said.
Also on the trip were Louisiana's state police superintendent, Col. Mike Edmonson, House Speaker Chuck Kleckley and Assumption Parish Sheriff Mike Waguespack. The security briefing and tours were handled by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Edmonson said illegal drugs, gang members and other criminal activities are making their way into Louisiana from an unsecured border. He plans to send a dozen troopers to train with the Texas state police at the border later this year.
Jindal, the son of Indian immigrants who came to the country legally, said the beefed-up Texas law enforcement presence at a portion of the border — what he called a "surge" — has demonstrated it can reduce the number of people unlawfully coming into the United States.
"What that shows is if the federal government gets serious about this, if the Obama administration made this a priority, they can secure the border. They can stop this from happening," he said.
Jindal also criticized the Obama administration for giving him little information about more than 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children who have been placed with sponsors in Louisiana in recent months. He is one of several governors to object to the placements.
The governor said the state didn't receive any guidance or resources to ensure the safety and welfare of the children.
"As long as the kids are here, we want to do what we can to help take care of those kids," Jindal said. "It's hard to do that if the federal government won't share information."
Border Patrol agents have apprehended more than 57,000 immigrant children crossing the border alone since October, most of them from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Violence in those countries has been partly blamed for the increased numbers. The children are released to sponsors, usually relatives or family friends, while going through deportation proceedings.
Congress has been unable to agree on a plan for dealing with the immigration crisis.