Over the weekend, I traveled to South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley to see for myself the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding along the border in Texas.
I visited a bus station in Laredo that is providing shelter and aid for dozens of mothers and children every day while they await transportation to take them to locations all across the country to appear before an immigration court. This process is supported by contributions and using volunteers working 12 hours shifts by the local Catholic Churches. Then I toured the Customs and Border Patrol facility in McAllen where hundreds of unaccompanied children and others with their mothers are detained while they await to be processed through the system. I also visited Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio that is serving as a temporary shelter and processing center for 1,200 unaccompanied minors.
Despite the President’s claims this is not about immigration reform. This is about managing the immediate humanitarian crisis that this country faces at the Texas-Mexico border. This is about making a priority the thousands of children who have made a horrific journey based on false hope that they will be able to stay in the United States.
I saw firsthand the humanitarian efforts that are underway by Customs and Border Patrol agents, local officials and community non-profits who are all overwhelmed by the daily volume of unaccompanied minors and family units who have been apprehended at the border. Throughout my visit one message was clear; please don’t call this an immigration reform issue, this is a humanitarian crisis and we need help now.
The House Working Group that was created by Speaker Boehner, and that I have been appointed to lead, has heeded the call to action and is working to provide immediate recommendations to help those on the ground who are facing this crisis every hour of the day.
I will be returning to the Rio Grande Valley on Thursday, as part of this effort, to continue to meet with officials to hear directly from them what solutions can be developed to end this crisis.
As I continue to work on this issue, I will keep you updated.