With record numbers of children at the border, Rep. Veronica Escobar fights against misinformation
“This is a challenge that we’ve been seeing for several years. It’s not going away — until we fix it,” Rep. Veronica Escobar said.
As the Biden administration deploys FEMA to the U.S.-Mexico Border to help care for thousands of unaccompanied migrant teens and children arriving in staggering numbers, U.S. Reps in Border Communities are forced to reckon with the misinformation.
About 8,500 teens and children are living in shelters run by Health and Human Services (HHS), and increasingly, they are arriving faster than the HHS is able to process them, setting them up with sponsors to be reunited with their parents already in the states.
Nearly 4,000 minors are packed in Border Patrol station holding facilities and jail cells designed for adults. As the pandemic persists, these sites are dangerously overcrowded, according to migrant lawyers representing the unaccompanied children.
Border politics have continued to make headlines this week, with the House also scheduled to vote on two immigration bills.
First and foremost, the American Dream and Promise Act, which would establish a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and DREAMERS brought to the U.S. as children. The House will also vote on the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which would create a pathway for temporary status for undocumented workers in the agricultural industry. The bill outlines a way for them to work to become a permanent resident.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will also testify on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, where he may speak on the situation at the border. He is scheduled to testify virtually on “the way forward on homeland security.”
Border politics intensified after a visit to the border by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who said the “Biden border crisis” was caused by the Biden administration’s new policies.
“That’s unacceptable,” Rep. Veronica Escobar said during a press conference in response to McCarthy’s comments on the influx of unaccompanied children.
Escobar continued by saying that “within DHS especially, all of the vehicles and avenues for humane processing of people have been obliterated.”
She said that because of the high numbers of unaccompanied children, there isn’t enough space to ensure clean, humane conditions. Escobar also said she is “in talks’ with the Biden administration about how unacceptable the facilities are for children.
“Between 40 and 50% of the children that are arriving at the border have family in the United States to be reunited with,” Escobar added, but one of the issues is that the processing time remains slow.
“You can’t release children from a processing center into a community,” she said. There aren’t enough people currently to safely ensure that the children are being processed safely and reunited with their families safely. It’s one of the reasons why FEMA was deployed, to help with the overwhelming numbers and cut down the unsafe processing times.
Throughout her press briefing, Escobar stressed that the issue, though highlighted in recent weeks, didn’t begin with the Biden administration.
“We first started seeing pretty significant numbers of families arriving at our front doors during the Trump Administration. The flow has never stopped,” she said.
Rep. Escobar isn’t the only member of the Hispanic Caucus who has publicly spoken out against the skewed narrative.
“The Republicans who are visiting the Southern border supported the Trump administration’s decision to separate thousands of babies and children from their parents,” said BOLD PAC Chairman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ). “Their fake compassion and sudden interest for children at the border once again shows the cynicism of the GOP.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro also took to Twitter to point out that the border crisis was far from perfect during the last four years.
“With McCarthy and Republican politicians at the border, it’s important to remember they supported family separations and forced families to remain in refugee camps, Castro wrote. “Their sudden concerns for children are hollow and cynical. They do not support solutions for humanitarian relief.”
With McCarthy and Republican politicians at the border, it’s important to remember they supported family separations and forcing families to remain in refugee camps.
Their sudden concerns for children are hollow and cynical. They do not support solutions for humanitarian relief.
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) March 15, 2021