– Howdy! – [Crowd] Howdy! – It’s such a pleasure to
see you all here tonight. I’m Raymond Robertson, I’m the Director of the Mosbacher Institute here at the Bush School of
Government and Public Service. And again I’d like to
thank you all for coming. This is such an important event for us because we’re bringing home one of our own and I’m really excited about having him share his
ideas with you here tonight. Before we get started of course, I’d like to recognize a few of
our very distinguished guests and thank them for coming. Representative Bill
Flores is here tonight. (audience applauds) Who needs no introduction whatsoever. And of course Warren
Finch has joined us here from the George HW Bush
Presidential Foundation, HW Bush Library Museum.
(audience applauds) Levi McClenny’s here from
the Texas A and M Regents and Engineering student
I think, is Levy here? Okay, is Karl Mooney here, the mayor? Here we go, please stand up!
(audience applauds) The mayor of College Station. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. We’re really glad to see you here, thank you very much. And you know one of the things we noticed out there in the reception
was Congressman Hurd could barely get through the crowd without recognizing people he knew. Would y’all just raise your hand if you were a former classmate, professor or coworker of Congressman Hurd? I just wanna thank you
all for coming back. You really made him feel right at home so thank you all so much for coming. In order to get started tonight, I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome Dr. Frank
Ashley up to the stage. For those of you who don’t know him, he’s our Senior Associate
Dean for Academic Affairs at the Bush School that has
been absolutely wonderful in his work that he’s done
here at the Bush School and he’s just following up
on his entire wonderful, illustrious career throughout
the Texas A and M system. He’s worn many hats, he’s been the Dean of the College of Education,
Texas A and M University of Commerce and the Director of Admissions and Associate Dean for
Undergraduate Students at the College of Education. And I could go on and on.
(audience laughs) He doesn’t want me to lay it on, but if you’d please help me
welcome Dr. Frank Ashley. (audience applauds)
– Thank you very much. – Howdy!
– Howdy! – I love that.
(audience laughs) Congressman Will Hurd,
a San Antonio native and a Texas A and M
computer science graduate, never planned on being
a member of Congress. He was excited to spend his entire career serving his country by
stopping terrorists, preventing Russian spies
from stealing our secrets, and putting nuclear weapons
proliferators out of business. As an undercover officer in the CIA. Then he realized that his expertise in cybersecurity and intelligence was sorely needed in Congress, the people charged with
making informed decisions about how to serve and
protect our country. Since being elected in
2014, he’s continued to blaze his own trail to
deliver bipartisan results for the 800,000 Texans he calls his bosses by working with anyone,
regardless of politics and party, to help make sure our kids
are ready for the future, that our country is safe,
and that the United States will always be the
leader of the free world. Texas monthly and political magazines have called him the future of the GOP. His efforts to put good policy over good politics has
clearly struck a chord in a country that is often consumed with what divides us
instead of what unites us. Now on a personal note,
none of Congressman Hurd’s accomplishments are a surprise to me. I’ve been around here for
a little over 30 years. And I remember Will Hurd as a
president of the student body here at Texas A and M University. A student body president that led us through one of the most tragic events in the history of this great university. That’s the collapse of Bonfire that happened 20 years ago next month. I can still remember
like it was yesterday. As student body president he was thrust into the local, the state,
and the national spotlight. I still remember his
poise, his compassion, and his heartfelt grief. Will I want to let you know
that you made us proud. The way that you represented
your fellow students and the university, I look back then and right at 20 years ago
I said this kid’s special. I think we all know that that’s true now. Will Hurd is a very special person. I wanna let you know that we thank you for everything that you’ve done for this university, for
this state, and our country. And with that I’d like to
invite Congressman Will Hurd to the podium.
(audience applauds) – Thanks buddy, I
appreciate that, thank you. Oh y’all stop, y’all are too kind. (audience applauds and cheers)
Thank you, thank you. You know I appreciate, y’all are, please please please please please. It’s a lot of pressure when
you get a standing ovation at the beginning of a speech.
(audience laughs) You’re gonna have to deliver.
(audience laughs) A couple of housekeeping issues. I am not Dave Chappelle
or Jerry Seinfeld, okay? So you can take your
phones out, take pictures. Just tag me on social media.
(audience laughs) That’s all that I ask, Hurd
on the Hill, Hurd on the Hill. Just remember that, and while I’m there everybody smile, awesome.
(audience laughs) Thank you, thank you. It is a pleasure to always
be back in Aggieland, the place that taught me how
to have a servant’s heart. And it’s a place that influenced who I have become and so it’s wonderful to be back here with y’all today. My story is simple, I was in
San Antonio where I grew up and I decided to come to Texas
A and M my freshman year. I was studying computer science and I’m walking across campus
in the Zachary Building and I see a sign that says
take two journalism classes in Mexico City for $425.
(audience laughs) I had 450 bucks in my bank account, so I go to Mexico.
(audience laughs) I feel in love being in another culture. I thought it was cool seeing things I’d only read about in books and I decided to add international studies as a minor. And my first class I had,
I had a guest lecturer. He was only a guest lecturer at the time, a dirtbag named Jim Olson.
(audience laughs) You can tell him I said that okay. And I’ve always gotta remind everybody, everybody talks about Jim Olson
as this amazing CIA officer and he was but he was
the second best officer in his family, his wife was better. (audience applauds)
Okay? And he told stories, the stories that y’all have heard that inspired me to wanna go into the
agency and when I graduated from A and M at 22 I went into the CIA. I was the dude in the back alleys at 4:00 in the morning
collecting intelligence on threats to our homeland. The best job on the
planet, I did two years at what I used to call our super-secret CIA training facility called the Farm. Now it’s on Google Maps.
(audience laughs) And it is, then I did two years in India, two years in Pakistan,
two years in New York City when I was doing interagency work and then a year and 1/2 in Afghanistan where I managed all of
our undercover operations. And in addition to collecting intelligence on threats to our homeland
I had to brief members of Congress, I probably met
200 members of Congress. Rs, Ds, men, women,
people from all 50 states. And I wish when I was overseas I had met someone like a Bill Flores. Now Bill wasn’t in Congress at the time but I didn’t meet the
people of Bill’s caliber when I was there, I wish I would’ve met another Texan like Matt Thornberry or Elise Stefanik from New York City. If I would’ve met those people, you would never have heard my name again ’cause I would’ve stayed in the CIA. But I was shocked with the caliber of some of our elected officials. And my momma said you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. And so I left Afghanistan,
moved to Helotes Texas and ran for Congress. Now I lost that election by 700 votes. Glad you don’t tell
that story anymore Bill. But it gave me an
opportunity to be a partner at consulting firms, start
a cybersecurity company, and ran again in ’14 and I will say that all of these experiences
helped me frame the issues that I’ve had to deal with in Congress. And one of those, my time in the CIA has helped me deal with
the issue of immigration. When I was in Pakistan I was meeting with a guy who was a former Mujahideen. The Mujahideen is the fighters in the ’80s that fought the Russians. This guy was somewhere between the age of 65 and 120.
(audience laughs) I didn’t know, look if you were one of the original Mujahideen
you’ve lived a rough life. And I would sneak into his compound and we would sneak into a special room and I would sit cross-legged on a nice rug like this and he would generally have two pomegranates of unblemished skin. And we would sit there and
he would mash the pomegranate until it looked like a water balloon and then he would take the biggest life I’ve ever seen in my life and cut a hole and stick a straw in it and we would drink fresh pomegranate juice and we would talk about issues and a lot of times he would just stare at me, all right? Sometimes he would tell me a story and one day he said Mr. Willy? Everybody in South Asia called
me Mr. Willy for some reason. He said Mr. Willy I’ve been
a Pakistani for 70 years. Pakistan as a country is a young country. I’ve been a Muslim for 1640 years. But I’ve been a Pashtun for 3333 years. And it’s hard for us as Americans to understand and appreciate how long thousands of years of
culture, how it has an impact on who we are, on people’s hearts. But it does and that experience helped me really understand and try to put myself in other people’s shoes especially when it came to
the issue of immigration. There is, we have
generational defining issues, challenges that we have to meet. And one of those challenges is the fact that we have an unbearable amount of pressure on our borders
and it’s being caused by extreme poverty, lack
of economic opportunities, in specifically the Northern Triangle. That’s El Salvador,
Guatemala, and Honduras right? And the way we should be dealing with this issue is deal
with the issue there before it gets to our borders. And we should, as a member of Congress, I represent more border than
anybody else, 820 miles. I represent 29 counties, two time zones. It takes 10 1/2 hours to drive from one corner of my district to the other at 80 miles an hour which is the speed limit in most of the district all right?
(audience laughs) But some of my former
interns are in here tonight and they learned the
hard way that it’s not the speed limit in all of the district. (audience laughs) And I can tell you, representing 820 miles of the border that what is happening at our border is indeed unprecedented. And although we’re seeing
numbers going down, and that’s primarily
because of the Texas heat. These are, we don’t know if these changes is just the normal
changes we see every year or if it’s because of some of the changes that we’ve seen our allies like Mexico do. But it is likely that we’re gonna see these numbers and these
pressures rise again and we’re not prepared for that problem. We have seen tragic images of parents and their children drowning in the banks of the Rio Grande, these images shocked the entire nation but these scenes covered in the news are not new to those of us who represent border communities. Now Congress was able to pass a bill in June to provide
funding but this was only a short-term fix, but Congress
and the administration, we’ve gotta do more to
address mass immigration and that’s what I said earlier. Extreme poverty, lack
of economic opportunity, and violence in El Salvador,
Guatemala, and Honduras. Imagine how bad the situation is for you to put your
child on a 2300 mile trek that you know is going to be dangerous. You know that trip from Central America to South Texas is gonna be hard but your situation is
so bad that you think this is the only way that your child is going to be able to have a future. Remember that when we’re
having these debates. Now the solution to many of these problems are not neccesarily new
and these are not problems just for the United States and Mexico. This is a problem for the
entire western hemisphere and we need the entire western
hemisphere to be involved. And so how do we fix this? It’s a fraction of the cost to try to solve problems there
before they get to our shores. So I think the Secretary
of State, Mr. Pompeo, Secretary Pompeo, should
immediately appoint a special representative
to the Northern Triangle. This is a senior diplomat
whose responsibility would be to coordinate all elements of the US government
in those three regions. It should also be the element that works with the Organization of American States, with the International Development Bank, in order to have a broader plan. And this, I say the broader plan, we should be thinking of a Marshall Plan for that part of the world, for the Northern Triangle specifically. Because this again is the fraction of the cost to solve the
problem there, all right? This is part of our hemisphere. One of the reason we
should be passing NAFTA, and we were talking about this earlier, is we should be thinking about
North American supply chains in order to deal with
the competition of China. And the competition is real. Why should we care, because
if it United States economy is no longer the most important economy in the world it’s gonna impact
all of our ways of life. Our children and our
children’s children ability to live with a quality of life that we have lived with
is not going to be there. This is truly a competition
and we should be working with our allies and we should be working with those countries
within our own hemisphere to deal with this. We also need to be addressing some of the criminal elements that
are exacerbating this problem. Human smugglers, human traffickers, and drug smuggling organizations. The amount of drugs sold in
the United States of America is about $40 billion,
that’s a very conservative, little c estimate. To give you some context for that, Starbucks, they only sell about
$32 billion worth of coffee. McDonald’s sells $34
billion worth of Big Macs. This is the size of the problem. Which means a drug
trafficking organization is well capitalized, all right? They’re using some of the latest and greatest technology in
order to evade our defenses. And so one of the things
that we should be doing is making sure that the intelligence that we’re collecting on these entities, that we’re treating them the way we treated terrorist organizations. We know, if you’re trying
to smuggle someone, you’ve gotta put your number out there so people can call you, we
know what those numbers are. We know the meeting
locations where someone picks up the bus in order to drive
from Tegucigalpa to Eagle Pass. We know the license plates of many of those buses but the
national intelligence community is not leveraging this information to stop that problem there so if we work with our allies in those countries, and they’re willing to work with us, and we deal with that problem there, then that allows us to coordinate and streamline on our side of the border. ‘Cause I think the third step we need to do to stop this problem is we should streamline legal immigration. If you are at Texas A and M University and you are in a STEM degree, when you walk across the stage and get your diploma there
should be a visa in it. If you are, the Chinese
wanna steal our technology and guess what they’ve
been doing it for decades, they still are now. If they wanna steal our technology, we should be stealing their engineers. (audience laughs)
All right? I want them to come here, I want them to contribute to American companies. I want them to grow companies here. And there’s always gonna be a debate. There’s a question about should we change immigration for merit,
what does merit mean? And a lot of people say
oh, if you have a PhD in astrophysics and you’re
from Sweden, that’s merit. Yeah if you wanna come,
I want you here, come on. But Bill and I had a
colleague named Mia Love. Mia Love is fantastic. Her father and mother
basically cleaned hospitals, not hospitals, hotels. They produced Mia Love,
I think that’s merit. I have learned in my 42
years that being hard working is actually a skill.
(audience laughs) And it’s not neccesarily
something that can be taught. So if you’re gonna be a productive member of our society, if you’re gonna contribute to our economy, if you’re gonna
contribute to our culture, let’s get you here, but
let’s do it legally. And there’s actually more support on this issue of streamlining
legal immigration than most folks realize. There’s an issue called DACA. These are 1.2 million
kids that have only known the United States of
America as their home. They are contributing to our society. They are kids that have
passed background checks. They’re going to school,
they’re working hard. They’re contributing to our society! They’re already Americans,
let’s streamline that! Oh and guess what, 76% of Republicans believe this should be streamlined. (audience applauds)
Now we can clap for that for sure!
(audience applauds) But unfortunately sometimes
politics get in the way. And this is something
that we’re gonna continue to work on because for 243 years the United States of America has benefited from the brain drain
of every other country. And I wanna continue that. And I wanna benefit from the
hard working drain as well. So if you’re gonna come
here and be productive, let’s do it as quickly as possible but let’s do it ultimately legally. When I was in Pakistan in 2005, there was an earthquake
that killed 80,000 people. At the time Ryan Crocker, who we all know, was my ambassador, I think Ryan Crocker is the best thing our diplomatic corps has produced since George C Marshall. Ryan Crocker was an amazing person and this earthquake was so disastrous that the Pakistani government didn’t know what they could do, what
they should be doing. And so the ambassador came to my boss, the Chief of Station, and said hey, can you send a team up to Muzzaffarabad to figure out what we can do? Muzzaffarabad is the
capital of Azad Kashmir. Azad Kashmir is one of the areas that India and Pakistan
have been fighting over. Muzzaffarabad was also the place where several Pakistani
terrorist groups trained so a lot of Americans didn’t go up there. So I led a team of about four people up to this part of Kashmir to figure out what the Pakistani
government and people needed. And they needed an airlift
because Muzzaffarabad is in the Hindu Kush
mountains, about 14,000 feet. There were other villages even higher up and so after a major 7.6 earthquake that killed 80,000 people
there’s a lot of damage. So we decided they needed airlift and so we told Ambassador Crocker, he got on the phone and
got 22 Chinook helicopters up to Northern Pakistan and I’d been there for about five days and I was gonna jump on one of these helicopters. I was helping to direct this airlift and I jumped on one of these helicopters to go down to where my bed
down location was gonna be. And we had a report there was a village that had been without food, water, power for five days and by the way
it was in the middle of winter. Negative 20 degrees below zero. A legitimate negative
20 degrees below zero. And so we made a decision we’re gonna stop in this village, pick up these villagers, and let’s take ’em where we were going. So we land and we open the big bay doors of this CH47 helicopter
and if you’ve ever seen a helicopter crew they look like they’re from outer space.
(audience laughs) Outfit, the black mask,
hoses connected everywhere. And these villagers, about 200, start piling on this Chinook. And there was this village elder who had this little girl about six or seven years old who
lost both her mother and her father in the earthquake. She sees this scene and she
is screaming bloody murder. She is scared, she thinks these people are coming from outer
space and the village elder hands her to me and I
hold onto this little girl as tight as I can and
halfway through the trip, she finally relaxes and lays
her head on my shoulder. And we land where we were going, open the bay doors,
everybody starts piling off. I put the little girl down,
she takes about 10 steps, turns around, comes back, and gives me the biggest hug I’ve
ever gotten in my life. Except for maybe the one I got from Sharon Riley earlier today. Sharon?
(audience laughs) And probably about as big a hug as I’m gonna give Marilyn White, I see you Marilyn.
(audience laughs) And this little girl, this
six or seven year old girl who had just lost her mom and dad in the earthquake goes over
to the helicopter crewman, kisses him on the hand,
and he pats her on the head and smiles real big, gives her a thumbs up or a gig ’em depending
on where you’re from. (audience laughs)
And she smiles, returns the gesture with a big smile, gives a thumbs up, and runs away. That little girl’s face is seared into my brain because it is an example of what we did that day, how
the United States government is the only country in the world that has the resources and the willingness to help people even if
they’re 7000 miles away. We are a country that
is based on an ideal. And our actions as individuals, our actions as a government
have to represent that ideal. And I think one of those ideals and things that we exhibited that day, helping people even if
they’re 7000 miles away, was something a lot of us
probably learned on Sunday. When Jesus Christ was
asked by the Pharisees in the second temple he
said, the Pharisees asked him what’s the most important commandment? And he said love thy lord God with all your heart, all
your mind, all your soul. But a lot of people forget,
he said equally as important, like thy neighbor like thyself. If we did that a little
bit more, guess what? We’d be able to help solve
this extreme poverty, lack of economic opportunity,
and we would recognize that those people are doing the same thing we would be doing if we
were in that same situation. That we would recognize
that for 243 years, we have benefited from everyone else. And so it’s great to be
able to work on this issue. It’s great that there’s more young people that care about this issue as well. Dr. Ashley talked about Bonfire. And it’s something that
I think about a lot. It’s crazy to think it’s been 20 years. Jamie Han, class of ’03
was gonna be an architect. Tim Curly class of ’03 was in the corps, he might’ve gone into the military. Jamie Frampton was a poet,
actually wrote some great poetry. We do not know if Jamie Han
would have made buildings that inspired us, we don’t know if Tim would have been in the military representing our country
and keeping us safe. We don’t know if Jeremy Frampton would’ve been the first
Aggie poet laureate. We don’t know, we won’t know. But one thing I do know
is that they would not have been living their life in vain. And so that experience to
me, what I take away is I try to make sure that I’m maximizing my opportunities that are given to me because there’s people
that didn’t have those. And what inspires me is the number of young folks that are here that care about your country, that
care about your world, that are not gonna live your life in vain, that appreciate that and I am glad that there are institutions
like Texas A and M that further that servant’s heart. So thanks for being here today. I know I’m getting ready to get grilled by a bunch of, by an expert questioner. But it’s always a pleasure
to be back in Aggieland. God bless you, and may God continue to bless these United States of America. (audience applauds) – Great, thank you. Congressman Hurd thank you
so much for those remarks. I’ll let you get that
back on for a second. Before we begin obviously,
I don’t know how intensive the grilling is gonna be here tonight. But I definitely think I’d like to first offer a reflection what I think was many were feeling in the audience was, you make us really feel
proud to be an American. You remind us what it is that makes this country really great so I just wanna thank you very much for that. (audience applauds)
Thank you very much. We’re so happy to have you back and I hope you’ll always
consider Aggieland your home, especially here at the Bush School or at the Mosbacher Institute. One of the things you
start out your talk with which was this Aggie experience that is very special and very unique. There’s no place like it in the world. I’d like to just expand on that, expand on what was it
about the Aggie values and experience that really contributed to such a successful
career in public service? – So when I was a
sophomore in high school, I got an internship at the
Southwest Research Institute. This is one of the
largest private institute, private research facilities in
the United States of America. And I worked under a female
engineer who went to Stanford. Now I don’t know what a
sophomore in high school whose only technical
capability at that time was to be able to type 75 words a minute, what I contributed to the
area of robotics at that time. But Dr. Marshall inspired me to want to do computer science
and because she went to Stanford I was gonna go to Stanford. And I applied to Stanford, got accepted, got a lot of money to go to Stanford, and I had a counselor in my high school who kept harassing me to go
do a tour of Texas A and M. Now I had applied to A and
M, I had applied to UT. And if I had told this counselor, I said if I go will you leave me alone? (audience laughs)
And he said yes. So I came up to Aggieland
and fell in love. I literally put my acceptance to come to A and M here and part of it was what we call the other education, right? And so the opportunities I had, Dr. Gaspar was here earlier. The Academy of Future
International Leaders, being able to do that, and I worked in a factory in the Philippines that manufactured integrated circuits. And when you think of a factory that makes integrated
circuits in the Philippines, that’s exactly what it looked like. Whatever you’re thinking in your head, that’s exactly what it was like. Everybody else in the
Academy had Fridays off. I had to work every other Saturday. And it was just those experiences. And look, Aggies do not lie cheat or steal or tolerate those who do. If more people were like
that in Washington DC, we’d be better off.
(audience applauds) So yeah, so one thing,
I tried to explain it. Again I’m gonna get in
trouble with some of y’all. From the outside looking
in, you can’t understand it and from the inside looking
out you can’t explain it. Well we gotta be able to explain it y’all because it’s too important
to the ethos of this entity. And I go back to teaching
you about servant leadership. And the things I learned
in the other education from Dr. Mayland and Sharon Riley and all the times Marilyn White hit me upside the head ’cause
I was doing something stupid. She laughed, she was the only one that laughed ’cause she knows it’s true. (audience laughs) Fred McLure is a great,
Aggies that come back and it’s always awesome, and I don’t see, it’s a difference right? So I’m babbling a little bit here but we’re doing something right and caring about the rest of the world is something that A and M does well. – That’s great, well we’re really glad to have you back and we
hope you’ll keep singing that song just like
the rest of us will be. Every time we go out we’re gonna try and tell the same story. I’d like to shift gears a little bit and talk a little bit
more about the substance of what you were saying, one of the things that you started out was talking about the border experience
and how right now we’re going through this
unprecedented push of migrants. But most people I don’t think are aware of the change in migration patterns have shifted from Mexico,
which is no longer the largest sending country
for us, less than 1/2. Towards this Northern
Triangle so can you talk a little bit about how this shift has affected the border in
particular and what that means? – So 20 years ago the amount
of illegal immigration we saw was single adult
males coming from Mexico. And so if you look at how
Border Patrol has evolved as an entity, it’s been
based against that threat. This year it is family units
and about 80% is coming from the Northern Triangle, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. It’s family units so it’s
multiple people and children. The number of children is unprecedented. The highest time before
that was about 2014. So that’s the change and
so I represent Tornillo. Tornillo was one of these
places that were in the news. Border Patrol facilities are not designed to do long term detention. You definitely don’t want,
you don’t want anybody in these facilities
for more than a handful of hours, let alone children, right? So they’re not, the
facilities aren’t equipped for this and if you take,
another facility Clint, that’s in my district, it’s designed to hold 120 people temporarily. At one point they had 700
children in that facility. It’s just not designed for it all right? So the way the process
is supposed to happen is Border Patrol if you’re the ones that capture people and then you turn them over either to ICE or to HHS. ICE takes adults, HHS is
supposed to take children. If you don’t fund ICE and
if you don’t fund HHS, they’re the ones that are designed to be able to take care
of the health concerns of people that are ultimately in custody. Making sure you get children
into the right environments. There’s so much research out there that says if you have a child in any kind of detention for more than 21 days, the long term psychological
effect is disastrous. So we shouldn’t be holding kids for more than 21 days, we should be able to get them into an environment where they can get to school,
eat right, all of that. So part of it is a funding issue and again some of my
colleagues wanna argue about how bad these facilities are. Yeah they are, but you’ve gotta make sure that you’re funding the rest of the stuff for this, ultimately for
this process to work. Net migration with Mexico as
you said is actually reversed. And this is a problem for Mexico. So part of the reason
we’ve seen a decrease over the last couple of months is the Mexican government is handling this issue, this crisis, a
little bit differently as well which is adding a little bit
less pressure on our borders. So hopefully that sticks even once we get into the cooler months. – Now you had introduced or
at least proposed legislation to specifically deal with
a lot of the asylum cases. Right?
– Sure. – Would you like to
elaborate a little bit more on that and tell us what the goal of that was, what the mechanics were, and how it fared in Congress? – So asylum, to qualify for asylum, you have to be one of
five protected classes. So gender, religion, LGBTQ, all right? And so you have to be
part of a protected class and then you have to demonstrate that because you are a part, a member of that protected class
you are being persecuted for that reason and if
you’re not being persecuted by the government, that’s another entity, you have to prove that the government is unwilling or unable to protect you. So that is how, those
are the rules for asylum. And generally speaking across the world, you apply for asylum in the next country that you’re fleeing and
that’s what happens, why are there so many
Syrian refugees in Jordan? ‘Cause they go to
Jordan, next place to go. And if you look at our courts, we have about a backlog of about 900,000 of these immigration cases. The average number of days it takes to handle one of these cases
is something like 700 days. You should be able to
do an immigration case within nine months and only about 20% of the people that go
through an immigration court actually get asylum so one of the things, now so people are taking
advantage of the asylum process. That’s why you’ve seen human smugglers increase their throughput to the US. They’re coaching people on what to say. They actually don’t, they’re
not gonna ultimately apply for asylum, we’re treating everybody that comes to our border illegally as if they’re an asylum seeker even if they’re not
actually seeking asylum. That’s gumming up the system. So some of the fixes were
how you apply for asylum. Making sure that we have enough judges in order to prosecute this and guess what, we need the immigration
judges not in Houston. We need them on the border, right? Let’s increase that throughput as well. So these were some of the kinds of fixes and to codify how asylum is treating the use across the country,
across the world excuse me. – So if I may just try to
clarify these last two points. So there’s this influx
of Central Americans from the Northern Triangle
and there’s also this surge in asylum seekers so could you
just connect those two dots? How many of these Central
Americans are claiming asylum and what’s their claim
because they’re coming from, as you said, these
incredibly violent countries. – Yeah and so I recently went down to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, and walked through the
process on their end. They have these things
called welcome centers so if you get deported
back to those countries, you all go to one location
and they process you to try to understand
and help you reintegrate into society and one of
the things people forget is that Mexico deports more people
than the United States does. And so it’s not just us. And in, this was El Salvador, I asked of the 90,000 plus people
that had been deported back to that country in I
think it was a timeframe of about four to six months, how many of them did you
not find a family member to place them with, nine. Not 9%.
– Nine. – Only nine people out of a large number. In Guatemala the number was even higher. It was near 100,000 I think
over a specific time period. Zero, all right? And so we are able, if we address some of those problems there and a lot of times the violence is
husband on wife, right? And because the local
police are not somebody you can go to then you have
nowhere to go so you flee. So some of the programs that we’ve seen the State Department working on basically has purged the local police, hired new people, trained
them in community policing, the kind of policing that
we see across the country. And guess what happened,
violence decreased. And when violence decreased
what else happened? You didn’t see as many people leaving that municipality to come to
the United States illegally. So we have these programs
that are actually working and addressing these root causes. We just need to magnify
them and cutting off aid to these countries is the
actual backwards thing to do. We should be increasing aid in order to multiply many of these programs that are already existing. – So not just aid, one
of the things I’ve done in my own research is
estimate the relationship between remittances, which is the money that migrants send back to those countries and the apparel that we
buy from those countries like our imports, right? And we find that when we buy less apparel, when there’s fewer apparel
jobs in those countries, the more remittances go
back to those countries. So they either have a
choice of working there or coming here to work so when you mention this idea of OPEC and the Marshall Plan, could you elaborate a
little bit more on that? ‘Cause that obviously
seems like a great idea. How can we promote investment
in private enterprise in Central America in
order to create more jobs for these people?
– Well this is one area, this is one reason I’m
here, hopefully get some of your students to help me work on this problem and identify–
– We’ve got some. – Some of the things. (laughs)
(audience laughs) And so how do we leverage
those things together? So I represent part of West
Texas and South Texas right? So the Eagleford Shell, the Permean Basin, we’re seeing the energy
renaissance happening because of those parts of my district. Natural gas, we’re selling
a lot of natural gas to Mexico why, because
if you decrease the cost of turning on your lights you
increase the cost of living. Why can’t we continue that down through into Guatemala
and other places right? But they don’t have the infrastructure in order to ultimately do that. So what are some of those
infrastructure projects where we could have OPEC funding and financing for that is
gonna create an environment for some of that trade
to ultimately happen? And so I can’t tell you the 10 things that I would do because there are so many but OPEC is a leader
and part of the reason we should be looking at it this way is because this is what the Chinese are doing with the One Belt One Road initiative. And so they’re leveraging
all of their various factors of production in one direction. And so we’re not doing
this, OPEC is not talking to USAID, hell USAID’s not even talking to State Department half the time. And so to be able to coordinate that effort to make it a
little bit more effective and figure out how we, one of the things that I found shocking is there is not travel restrictions in Guatemala, El Salvador, or Honduras.
– But there are in Mexico. – There are in Mexico!
– There are in Mexico. – And so when you look at some of the best surfing and diving and there’s so many reasons
from a tourism perspective to go there, again are there things that we can be doing from an
infrastructure perspective that facilitates that, that increases their quality of living, prevents them from coming here,
increases a trading partner that we have and then
we grow this NAFTA zone further into Central and South America in order to make sure the US economy stays the most important economy. This is how all these things are connected and should be connected
and that’s why paying a little bit more attention
in our own backyard. We were talking at dinner,
I said James Monroe is turning over in his grave, right? The whole Monroe Doctrine, don’t mess in the western hemisphere,
we’ve lost that. – The Chinese are here.
– The Chinese are here. We’re not messing in
the western hemisphere. The Monroe Doctrine wasn’t supposed to be for us, it was supposed to be for everybody else.
(audience laughs) – So you brought up
NAFTA, if you don’t mind, we had a really fun NAFTA
session earlier this year. I think a lot of you were
there, it was a lot of fun. And one of the things
that people are talking about is USMCA which is a revision to NAFTA which hopefully would affect these supply chains
and deepen these roots. Have you heard any buzz
that you wanna share with us about the USMCA,
what the status is or what’s going on with that? – Look it’s a good deal. Any deal that has increased our economies by 400% over 24 years I think
that’s a pretty good deal. The US, Mexico and Canada,
we make things together. We generate economic benefit from imports as well as exports, Toyoto hello? They’re in my district, right? Those thousands of people they put at working building trucks, they’re going and participating in
our south San Antonio. And I’ve participated in a thing called the interparlimentary dialogue. This is a number of members of Congress, bipartisan from the US as well as multiple parties in
Mexico having a dialogue on legislative related issues. And what’s funny is this has been around, I think it’s been like 14, 15 years. Every year in one of the communiques after this event was we need to update NAFTA. 24 years ago when this was signed in my hometown Amazon didn’t exist. The company, not the river.
(audience laughs) Nobody had ever heard of the
phrase Eagleford Shell, right? And so a lot had changed and so I think USMCA or NAFTA 2.0 or
whatever you wanna call it is a positive effort, now it’s gonna, now it comes down to counting votes. And let me give you some perspective. The last time Congress passed
a trade deal was in 2015. And this was to give
President Obama TPA authority, trade promotion authority. This gives the President the ability to bring a trade deal to
Congress for an up or down vote. – Fast track.
– Fast track. – Republican House, Republican
Senate, Democratic President. That TPA authority
passed 218 to 217, right? In the house, 26 Democrats voted to give President Obama TPA authority. For USMCA, we’re gonna probably need about 36 Democrats so we’re
gonna need more Democrats to give President Trump a victory on trade than we needed Democrats to give Obama the ability to pass TPA
so that’s the difficulty of the politics around this. But as long as Speaker Pelosi
and Ambassador Lighthizer, the US Trade Representative, as long as they continue to say
really positive things about each other in public…
(audience laughs) When that changes then I’m gonna start getting a little nervous but I think we can get this done by
the end of this month. And Bill do you have any other, do you agree, disagree?
– That’s optimistic. (audience laughs) – Bill said I’m more
optimistic than he is. Look the environment
in which we’re in now, getting this done is so
vital to our economy. The amount of capital expenditures that haven’t happened in South Texas and in northern Mexico is
in the billions of dollars. The uncertainty about investment and stopping is in the
billions of dollars. And this is having a broader impact on global trade routes, right? And once you, or global
supply chains really. And once you change a
global supply change, you’re not changing it back even if the deal gets sorted out, right? And so the opportunity
costs are very high. And again, we all know what the deal is. Many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are saying they want enforcement of labor standards. Okay great, you know who else cares about enforcement of
labor standards in Mexico? The Mexican president, ’cause
he won an election on it. Right?
– That’s right. – He changed laws in Mexico,
he’s already taken a number of steps to enforce labor standards in Mexico that we had never seen before. And when I go to many of my colleagues, I say okay what is the gold standard of language that you wanna see included in the USMCA, they don’t have it right? So if this is your major issue, let’s figure out what
the language is supposed to look like and see how we can deal. So the longer we go into,
the closer we get to 2020, the harder it is gonna be to pass this. And this is, man we should’ve done this a long time ago. – Yeah and Mexico already made a lot of the changes to their labor laws so they’ve already done their part to enforce the labor standards and that’s still been the hangup. I was in Washington last week talking to members of Congress about
the USMCA in particular and one of the things I noticed was that not everyone has
a Texan point of view. (audience laughs)
Texans have a very particular view on trade and
migration and so the border is different as well right, from a lot of the other parts of Texas. Texas is so huge and your
own district is so huge. So how have you dealt with
those differences in Congress? How do you go to someone from Pennsylvania or Michigan and try and
help them understand the Texan point of view? – Yeah so it’s wild, 26 states Mexico is their number one or
number two trading partner. A lot of people that represent those states don’t know that, right? Everybody, I guarantee you everybody in this room has eaten a tasty
treat from Sara Lee right? But nobody knows Sara Lee is owned by Bimbo which is a
Mexican company, right? There’s a company that’s
based in Eagle Pass, has employees, thousands of people in Michigan and Ohio called Ricini. People in those communities don’t know Ricini’s a Mexican company, right? And so we have forgotten that
international trade matters and is important, right, this was decided in 1776 when Adam Smith wrote
Wealth of Nations right? – As I’ve taught all my students, just so you know.
– And so we have forgotten the importance of this and I think trade should never have become a political issue in 2016 because those of
us that understand this fell down on the job in
communicating why it’s important. And so part of this is
a reeducation process of many of our colleagues. I wish I could pass a bill that says if you’ve never been to the border, you can’t talk about the border. (audience laughs)
– Here here. (audience applauds) – Make my life a lot easier, it would make my life a lot easier, right? But part of it too is… One of the things that we’ve been working with the government of Mexico on is trying to get more
members down to Mexico. People don’t realize Mexico City has more Michelin Star
restaurants than Paris, France. More than Paris Texas,
(audience laughs) but also more than Paris
France as well right? So there’s this lack of,
there’s a misunderstanding about where Mexico really is. I think Texans, if we had
more of a Texan perspective in DC we could’ve sorted this out sooner. – Definitely, that’s really great. And we hope we’ll keep doing that. We wanna keep sending folks from A and M to Washington, that’d be great. Speaking of that in particular, as you know we’re at the
George HW Bush School of Government and Public Service. And George HW Bush believed
that public service was a noble calling and I’ve had several of my students if not all of them who come here not to make money or go into finance or something. They want to enter public service and follow that noble calling. And I’m sure they would
benefit tremendously from any advice you might have for these students going forward, looking especially ’cause
the climate’s changing and whatnot based on your experience. What advice would you
offer these students today? – So when I graduated in 2000, this was before the bubble,
the tech bubble burst really. And I had my degrees in computer science so I had some pretty good offers. I had a pretty solid offer from IBM that was five x my starting
salary for the CIA. And my dad, my dear old dad,
(audience laughs) was like, “Boy take the IBM job!” (audience laughs)
And he goes, one it pays more money and then two, he goes I don’t wanna come home one day and my house blow up.
(audience laughs) And I’m like Pops, you’re gonna be fine. If that’s your biggest concern it’s fine. But look to be able to be in service to something larger than yourself, it’s… Is intoxicating the right word? It’s just something,
it’s a worthy pursuit. When I lost, so when I
left the CIA and ran, I didn’t have a plan B. Five of us in the primary,
I got 900 more votes than the next person
but not 50% of the vote. Went to a runoff, everybody was like, at first everybody was
like who’s this guy? He’s never gonna win but when I won, everybody was like oh my God
he’s the next best thing. And then when I lost everybody
was like how’d you lose? (audience laughs) And so I didn’t know what
my Plan B was gonna be. And I asked 75 people
the same two questions. I was 32 at the time, I
said if you were 32 again what would you do and
the second question was if time and money wasn’t
an issue what would you do? I think I asked Fred McClure,
Fred McClure was in one of the 75 and I got 74 crummy responses. Okay, including yours Fred!
(audience laughs) But the 75th was the father
of one of my closest friends. And he goes Will, I don’t
know what you should do but do something that’s
meaningful and hard. And I’ve learned when
I look back at my time, nobody thought that a black kid, computer science engineer at Texas A and M could beat the head Yale leader
for student body president. Nobody thought that, everybody told me there’s no way that
somebody who’s straight up an undergrad’s gonna get into the CIA. And everybody thought I was
crazy to run for Congress. But in the end all those things were meaningful and hard and getting into public service does just that. And we are lucky to live
in the greatest country that this world has ever seen. And we have a commitment to give back to it because of the opportunities that we have had and we’ve come so far. I always talk about my dad, so my dad’s black, my mom’s white. And being an interracial
couple in South Texas in the 1970s was not in vogue, right? (audience laughs)
I don’t think the phrase interracial didn’t exist back then. And my parents actually live in the house they live today because
that was the only place that an interracial couple
could buy in San Antonio 1971. And when my dad was a traveling salesman, there was places that he would go that he couldn’t eat at every restaurant, he couldn’t stay in every hotel. And now their youngest son
represents that district. It’s pretty amazing to
see how far we’ve come. And so part of that is making sure that we’re giving back to a system that has allowed that kind of growth. So I advocate for it. You always have time to have
the financial resources, the income to live a life that you want. When I was in the CIA, I
literally had no expenses when I was overseas right? And so I was able to put enough money away to buy a house and put $50,000 into a campaign and
run for Congress right? And so I did that after
working in the government. So it’s rewarding in that way. That’s why I always love coming back here because of that commitment to service. – Well I hope you know that
you’re always welcome here. – I know.
– You’re one of our family and I hope you’ll please join me in thanking Congressman Hurd.
(audience applauds) Thank you so much.
(audience applauds) We’re not quite done.
– Oh okay, all right. – We’re almost done.
– Is this lightning round? – No no no, I’m tempted to pull out all kinds of other questions but I know that we have some gifts. So one, we have this lovely plaque for you to commemorate your time here which commemorates the speech you’ve given for the conversation in public policy. It’s critical that you’re here
(audience laughs) to make this a success
so thank you very much. I’m a little hesitant on this second one, we have another gift for you but after your opening comments I’m
a little bit hesitant. But we do have James Olson’s book. (audience laughs)
– Boo, boo! – Signed by Jim Olson so I
wanted to thank you very much. – I have a great place inside my fireplace to put this.
(audience laughs) No look, Jim is great and do I have time to tell one CIA story?
– Please, please. As a matter of fact we do.
– Before we go. So when you’re going to meet someone who’s giving you secrets, you do an SDR, surveillance detection route. And I’m in a city I had
never been in before. And I’m in a Toyota Tercel
which is a small car. It’s kind of like a Ford Escort. And I’m getting ready to turn down what I thought was gonna
be an abandoned alley. And I turned down it it was like a parade, thousands of people, pack animals, folks selling their wares and I’m going four miles an hour down this alley. And this woman walks in front of my car. And I mash on my brake,
roll over her flip flop, drag her foot across the concrete. Busted her toe wide open,
meat’s hanging out of it, bleeding, it’s nasty.
– You sure this is the story you wanna tell?
(audience laughs) The last story, okay. – And she looks in the
car and realizes I’m not from around there and starts
screaming bloody murder. I have a couple hundred people banging on the car, shaking the car. And the CIA teaches you, in this situation get off the x, the x is the location where something’s going
down and the last place you wanna be when something’s going down is where it’s going down.
(audience laughs) And so but I didn’t have enough. My car wasn’t gonna be able to get me out of this situation, I had a weapon but not enough ammunition
for this situation and so I did what they least expected. I unfold my six foot four frame out of this tiny car and
everybody was shocked. (audience laughs)
Because one, I was like twice the size of everybody. And I knew some of the local language but not good enough for this situation. And I said does anybody speak English? And this kid, I’ll remember him
for the rest of my life too. He parts the crowd, he raises a finger into the sky and says,
“I speak the English.” (audience laughs)
And I said sir, where’s the closest hospital? And he asked the crowd and
he’s like four blocks this way and he points to the east! And I said fetch me a rickshaw! A rickshaw is a little scooter with a carriage that can
fit three or four people. And he yells at the crowd,
a rickshaw pulls up. I make a big display of
taking some money out of my pocket, I hand it to this woman, and I said take her to
the hospital immediately! And the woman gets in the rickshaw, the little translator
gets into the rickshaw, the rickshaw drives away, and the crowd literally starts clapping, right? They start patting me on the back. Some guy actually opened my car door and helped shove me back in.
(audience laughs) It was this little car and the sea of people part and I drive away and I’m looking in the rear view mirror and everybody’s waving at me.
(audience laughs) And my heart is beating, right? Because I thought my mother
was gonna get a phone call no mother ever wants to get, right? And it’s a fun story to tell today because I’ve got to meet
with some great Aggies for dinner and I’ve had
four vanilla lattes. (audience laughs)
Right? I got to see Sheran
Riley and Janet Phariss and Dr. Southerland but I tell that story because there are thousands of men and women every single
day and every single night putting themselves in harm’s way in order for us to enjoy
those inalienable rights of life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness. And it’s great representing my hometown of San Antonio but it’s also
great representing them, many of who this fine
institution have developed. So thank you all.
– You make us very proud. Thank you very much.
(audience applauds)