In an interview with FOX News Channel's Bret Baier, Vice President Mike Pence praised President Trump's immigration deal with Mexico and urged Congress to reform asylum laws.
"The truth of the matter is, we need Congress now to step up. Mexico has actually done more to address the crisis on our southern border than Congress has. And it's time for Congress to step up to provide the resources," Pence said.
BRET BAIER: As I said earlier, this day I spoke with Vice President Mike Pence in his ceremonial office at the Eisenhower Executive Office building right next to the White House. I started by asking about the details of the deal with Mexico.
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: I was in the negotiations on Wednesday. They initially offered to move thousands of National Guard to their Southern border. But before the end of the day--before the end of the week 6,000 Mexican National Guard to their Southern border. They'll be doing checkpoints throughout Mexico to determine people's immigration status as they move through their country. And, most notably of all, Mexico has agreed to take back all of the people from Central America who have come into our country, applied for asylum and have them remain in Mexico while we consider their asylum requests. These are things Mexico had never agreed to do before. They're doing them now and it's all a result of President Trump's strong and decisive leadership.
But the truth of the matter is we need Congress now to step up. I mean, Mexico has actually done more to address the crisis on our Southern border than Congress has and it's time for Congress to step up to provide the resources and most importantly, Bret, it's time for Congress to work with this president and this administration and reform our asylum laws--close the loopholes that human traffickers are using to entice people to take the long and dangerous journey north. That's what's going to be necessary. But the steps Mexico have taken represent a decisive step towards securing our border and we're grateful.
BAIER: Mr. Vice President, you know your critics say that a lot of this stuff was in the works, in the pipeline and that may be that the troop numbers are increased but that former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified December 20th, 2018--aliens trying to game the system to get into our country illegally will no longer be able to disappear into the United States where many skip their court dates. Instead they will wait for an immigration court decision while they are in Mexico--which is what you're saying they agreed to.
PENCE: Right. There's been a lot of talk about Mexico securing their Southern border. And there was a lot of talk as Secretary Nielsen testified about a remain in Mexico program. But when we sat down last week Mexico had only agreed to three ports of entry being used for us to return people to Mexico. Only 300 people a day were going back to remain in Mexico.
Once we fully implement the agreement that President Trump secured we'll have several thousand people that will be able to return to Mexico where they will remain while their asylum application is being processed.
BAIER: The president hinted that there was something else that's pending. Is there something else to be announced?
PENCE: There is, Bret. The President's focus here is on outcomes. We--we don't--we don't want to reach an agreement and then simply implement that and focus on process. The president's objective here is to reduce the number of people that are coming into our country illegally. But if all of this doesn't work the president has made it clear--within 90 days we have a back stop.
BAIER: Mexico did not agree though to accept a safe third country treaty. That's really what you wanted so that people coming in could then basically, seek asylum or refuge in Mexico first. Is that in the offing? Is it a possibility or are you disappointed that that didn't happen?
PENCE: We're not disappointed in this agreement. We've also reached an agreement with Guatemala to reform our laws to essentially say that if people are looking for asylum that they ought to be willing to apply for asylum in the first safe country in which they arrive. But look--we will only move onto that if it's necessary.