Vice President Mike Pence visited the Drug Enforcement Administration's headquarters Thursday morning, telling DEA employees "you fight for us every day" in a speech. The vice president used the occasion to campaign for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, calling it necessary to prevent drug trafficking.
"There are tragedies that never happened because of the work of the DEA and the drugs that you stopped and the criminal organizations that you disrupted," Pence said.
Pence began his speech by bringing greetings from President Trump, whom he called a "great champion of law enforcement."
"As the president said not long ago, there is nobody that deserves respect more than law enforcement," Pence said, adding that DEA officers "have a president, have an administration" that supports them totally. "You fight for us every day, we are going to fight for you."
Pence's visit to the DEA comes as the administration is trying to secure funding for a wall on the southern border. Mr. Trump has claimed that building a wall would result in fewer drugs being smuggled over the border, although the majority of illegal narcotics that enter the U.S. are smuggled through legal ports of entry. However, Pence said that 60 percent of marijuana coming over the southern border did not pass through entry points.
Pence said there was a "crisis" at the border. "Every day the southern border remains unsecure, it gives these criminals more opportunity to peddle their poison," he said, adding that the president would definitely "secure our border."
Last week, Mr. Trump agreed to reopen the government for three weeks without any money for the wall after a 35-day partial shutdown. Ahomeland security funding, which may include money for the border. The administration has indicated that Mr. Trump is willing to allow another shutdown if no deal is made to build the wall.
Mr. Trump announced on Twitter Thursday morning that more troops were being sent to the border, days after acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan for a greater troop presence there.
"More troops being sent to the Southern Border to stop the attempted Invasion of Illegals, through large Caravans, into our Country. We have stopped the previous Caravans, and we will stop these also. With a Wall it would be soooo much easier and less expensive. Being Built!" Mr. Trump wrote.
Pence also discussed the actions of the DEA in. The Trump administration recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guiadó as president instead of embattled leader Nicolás Maduro last week.
Pence was introduced by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a frequent target of Mr. Trump for his appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller in 2017. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was in Colombia.
"He has been a strong, steady and consistent supporter of law enforcement throughout the years," Rosenstein said of Pence in his introduction. Pence thanked Rosenstein for his service in response.
Pence was expected to participate in the swearing-in ceremony for the administration's new drug czar, James Carroll, Thursday afternoon.