Reschenthaler Leads Bipartisan Congressional Delegation Trip to Southern Border
McAllen, TX – This week, Congressman Guy Reschenthaler led a bipartisan congressional delegation trip to the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Sector of the southern border. The group visited Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities in McAllen, Donna, and Los Fresnos, Texas, where they saw firsthand the security and humanitarian crisis currently unfolding.
"What I witnessed in the Rio Grande Valley was deeply troubling," said Reschenthaler. "Even as we were standing on the border, flows of men, women, and children were pouring into the United States to claim asylum, many fraudulently. Smugglers and gang members throughout Mexico and Central America are abusing our broken immigration laws to enrich themselves. They charge thousands of dollars while leading thousands of individuals on a dangerous trek through the desert, often abusing the most vulnerable along the way. Our senseless catch and release laws cultivate an environment of child renting, trafficking, and smuggling."
In May, law enforcement in the RGV Sector apprehended nearly 136,000 family units – a 269 percent spike from the previous year. Traveling as a family unit – adults traveling with at least one minor – dramatically increases the likelihood of being released on their own recognizance into the interior of the United States while pending sentencing. Homeland Security Investigations between mid-April and May 31 alone, identified 206 fraudulent families. Apprehensions of unaccompanied minors and single adults were also up from May 2018, by 62 percent and 32 percent respectively. These individuals are primarily coming from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, although nationals from all over the world have been apprehended, including China and African nations.
"Criminals are using our own laws and regulations against us," said Reschenthaler. "The unaccompanied minor and family unit migrant crisis is overwhelming CBP and ICE resources, causing gaping holes in the security of our border, and creating ample opportunity for drug dealers and human traffickers to take advantage of this situation. Congress must act now to solve this security and humanitarian crisis."
Congressman Reschenthaler was joined by:
- Rep. William Timmons (R-SC)
- Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN)
- Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO)
- Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK)
The delegation began their trip by visiting the Hidalgo Port of Entry where they were briefed by CBP on the processing of passenger vehicles and pedestrians crossing over from Mexico. Many of the individuals crossing the border at this location are family units, unaccompanied minors, and individuals claiming asylum.
The group then traveled to the Pharr Port of Entry where they witnessed the inspection of agricultural goods shipped from Mexico and learned more about CBP's process for combatting smuggling of deadly substances like methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl.
In the afternoon, the delegation toured the McAllen Border Patrol Station and the RGV Centralized Processing Center, where families, single adults, and unaccompanied children are held until they can be transferred to ICE or Department of Health and Human Services custody. The facilities are over capacity, with thousands more illegal aliens pouring in by the day. In fact, during a line-tour of the border, the members witnessed firsthand men, women, and children crossing the Rio Grande River into the United States to claim asylum.
On Friday, the delegation continued its inspection of the border as they visited the Donna Soft-sided Housing Facility, a processing center for migrants attempting to cross the border into the United States. After a brief walking tour of the facility, the members made their way to the Port Isabel Detention Center in Los Fresnos, Texas, where they were briefed by ICE on the heavy burden illegal crossings are placing on the detention facilities, and the high cost associated with the system being so overwhelmed. For example, roughly $275 million is spent on healthcare for detainees each year. This overflowing and under-resourced facility houses migrants awaiting processing as well as those already processed through the courts and awaiting deportation.
These individuals represent only a fraction of the thousands of individuals recklessly released into the interior of the United States due to the lack of detention beds, border patrol agents, and immigration judges at the border.
"The time for partisanship and political grandstanding is over," said Reschenthaler, "The brave men and women of CBP and ICE are dealing with a full-blown crisis. Instead of updating our laws that are being exploited by transnational criminals and providing CBP with the personnel and tools they need, congressional Democrats continue to ignore the safety of Americans, the sovereignty of our country, and the well-being of those being trafficked into the United States. We must work together to secure our southern border and provide CBP and ICE with the resources necessary to care for those individuals being exploited by the lucrative business of our broken immigration system."