McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — A congressman from New York City told hundreds of people at a Monday night Christmas party that “the eyes of the world” are watching immigration issues that are unfolding in South Texas.
U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat, a Democrat who represents Harlem and the Bronx, is on a second visit to the region, he said, to study in real-time the migrant surge happening in the Rio Grande Valley.
“Fate has its place. No one would have thunk — as we say in New York — that the eyes of the world, not just the country, but the eyes of the world would be right here in this region of our nation. And everybody across the planet knows what’s happening right here at the border,” said Espaillat, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ Task Force for Transportation, Infrastructure and Housing.
Everybody across the planet knows what’s happening right here at the border.”U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat
He was a guest at U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez’s third annual Christmas Bash & Toy Drive at the Embassy Suites in McAllen.
Espaillat praised the region’s three Democratic congressmen — Gonzalez, Filemon Vela and Henry Cuellar — for working in unity on this issue despite some ideological differences among the three, which he characterized as middle, left and right-leaning, respectively.
Cuellar, who represents Laredo and Mission, winced at multiple references to his more conservative record.
“You found your voice through them to get to Congress to be able to say the story of the border in a genuine and authentic way and I think that’s very important because the rest of the country doesn’t understand that,” said Espaillat, who was born in the Dominican Republic.
Gonzalez, who represents McAllen, introduced Espaillat and bragged that Espaillat makes the 170th member of Congress that he has hosted in South Texas since he took office 35 months ago. This includes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has come to McAllen twice, most recently in August. And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who brought a delegation of 17 senators to the region on July 19.
“We need to show people who we really are and what we really are and the business that we bring to this great country,” said Gonzalez, who is currently serving in his second term. “They show up. They see the greenery and the safety and the commerce that we’ve created in the past decade here in this region and they’re all surprised when they get back to Washington and then they tell our narrative of the prosperity and the safety and of the good people who live here in our region.”
Gonzalez serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee with Espaillat. He told hundreds at the party that McAllen is the “seventh-safest city in America” and that he wants to improve the city’s image in the eyes of others. And he vowed to continue bringing colleagues from Washington, D.C., to the region.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, left, and U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez. Cuellar at right. (Border Report Photos/Sandra Sanchez).
Gonzalez — who voted against funding for the border wall, which currently is going up in South Texas — also told the crowd he believes that if the United States invested “5 percent or even 10 percent” of the $130 billion it spends annually on border security on the Southwest border in ways to help stop crime and poverty in Central America, migrants would not come in such masses.
Most migrants come from an area called the Northern Triangle, which is El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
The Rio Grande Valley Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol, which includes McAllen, makes the most migrant apprehensions of any sector on the Southwest border. And Border Patrol agents say the most marijuana seizures come from Starr County, which is Cuellar’s district.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com.