HOUSTON — On Friday, Congressional Republicans, including Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, plan to get a firsthand look at the crisis on the border.
There’s a scramble to find places to house the growing numbers of children caught crossing the border alone.
“It is an absolute crisis and disaster,” Cruz said during a Wednesday press conference on Capitol Hill. “No state is impacted more than my own state.”
Cruz and Cornyn will lead a Senate delegation tour to the Rio Grande Valley Friday with 17 other Republicans.
They’ll join border agents on a midnight patrol and visit a temporary processing facility in Donna.
“It is over 1,500% greater than capacity,” Cruz said.
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) recently took photos inside that detention center showing the crowded conditions.
“I definitely call it a humanitarian crisis,” Cuellar said during an interview Thursday.
Number of illegal border crossings doubled
Nearly 10,000 minors from Central America crossed illegally into the United States without their parents in February, nearly double January’s number.
Cuellar says the peak months for migration are traditionally March through July.
“If we see some big numbers this month in March, which I think we are, then it’s gonna be a hot summer,” Cuellar said.
Cruz and other Republicans blame President Joe Biden’s policy changes, while many Democrats argue border crossings were already rising and a similar spike happened in 2019 under former President Donald Trump.
Tony Payan, Director of the Center for the United States and Mexico at Rice University’s Baker Institute, believes Biden’s policy change, especially ending the “Remain in Mexico” program for asylum seekers, is an important factor driving the current migration.
“Obviously the messaging was the wrong message,” Payan said. “(It) did send a message to migrants that the border was somehow open, but that’s only part of the story.”
Payan said the other part includes migrants that were already stranded in Mexico who suddenly saw their chance to move up to the border, other migrants were on the waiting list for a court date in the U.S., and the typical spring surge in border crossings happening again.
Payan said the Biden administration is talking about working with Central American nations to set up asylum hearings those countries, while also collaborating with Mexico to stop migrants at their southern border with Guatemala.
Staff for Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo told KHOU on Thursday afternoon there were no plans to house new migrant children locally.