WASHINGTON – Legislature groups are on the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday as the Biden government continues to be targeted by both Republicans and Democrats over the influx of migrants on the southern border.
Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, both from Texas, lead a group of more than a dozen Republican senators in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. It is in this area that some of the most migrants travel to the US.
Legislators have been briefed on the situation at the border by officers, are touring the customs and border protection facility in Donna, Texas, and are taking a boat tour in Mission, Texas.
In addition, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, leads a group by members of the Democratic House on a tour of Carrizo Springs, a temporary children’s inflow facility operated by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Republicans and Democrats have called the situation on the border a “crisis,” a term the White House did not use. President Joe Biden said Thursday that “a large majority” of migrants coming to the US are being sent back.
“If you look at the number of people who are coming, the vast majority, the vast majority of the people who are coming and crossing the border will be sent back,” Biden said during a news conference. “Tens of thousands of people over the age of 18 who are single have been sent back and sent home.”
Increased numbers of migrant children are being admitted to the United States, causing overcrowding in short-term, prison-like Customs and Border Protection facilities, including those in the Rio Grande Valley.
The Biden government has made an effort to move children quickly from these facilities to those operated by Health and Human Services such as the Carrizo Springs facility. According to the law, children should be removed from CBP facilities within 72 hours.
Biden announced Wednesday that Vice President Kamala Harris is taking the lead in curbing migration at the border by working with Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
As of Thursday, Health and Human Services had 11,900 unaccompanied minors in its care while an additional 5,156 children were in CBP detention.
The CBP facility in Donna, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, has been heavily criticized for overcrowding. Photos released earlier this week by the Biden government showed children sleeping on mats on the foil-covered floor.
No medium was allowed to visit the CBP facilities, with administration citing COVID-19 restrictions. Cruz criticized the Biden administration in a letter earlier this week, saying that requests for media access to Donna’s CBP facility had been ignored.
Senators accompanying Cruz and Cornyn to the Rio Grande Valley for a boat tour in Mission, Texas include:
- Sen. John Thune, RS.D.
- Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo.
- Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa
- Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine
- Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C.
- Sen. John Hoeven, RN.D.
- Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.
- Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah
- Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
- Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.
- Senator James Lankford, R-Okla.
- It is. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska
- Sen. Thom Tillis, RN.C.
- Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.
- Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss.
- Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind.
- It is. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.
Lankford posted a video from the Donna facility on Friday morning showing overcrowding with children sitting or lying down with the foil blankets wrapped around them. The Biden government has repeatedly stated the importance of removing children from facilities quickly and stated that they are not made for children.
In Carrizo Springs, nearly four hours north of Donna, the facility is home to several hundred unaccompanied migrant children. A second HHS facility opens in Carrizo Springs to help get children out of CBP custody.
White House officials and members of Congress traveled to the Carrizo Springs facility earlier this week. A network, NBC, was allowed to tour with them.
Children wait at HHS facilities while sponsors or family members are screened. This can take days or weeks.
Legislators accompanying Castro to the Carrizo Springs facility include:
- Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif.
- Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
- Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.
- Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif.
- Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Virginia
- Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.
Reach out to Rebecca Morin on Twitter @RebeccaMorin_