RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) — Several Republican senators held a news conference on Wednesday to discuss their planned trip to the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, led the event and was joined by Sens. John Thune (R-South Dakota), John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama).
In total, 18 senators will visit the Rio Grande Valley on Friday.
Their visit comes amid a partisan divide in how the Biden administration is responding to the migrant situation at the southern border.
Together, the lawmakers condemned the Biden administration for the events occurring with migrants at the southern border.
“It is a crisis that was created by the Biden administration,” said Cruz. “He halted construction on the wall, reinstituted ‘catch and release,’ and ended the Remain in Mexico policy. This crisis is getting worse and worse by the day.”
The senators commented that they will allow media access to the facilities during their trip, something that has been denied by some Biden administration officials during their visits to the border.
“We want the media to be there. We want the American people to see what’s happening,” said Cruz. “I’ve been to the border under Barack Obama, media were allowed. I’ve been to the border under Donald Trump, media were allowed.”
The senator noted that the migrant holding facility in Donna is well-over its capacity limit.
Other senators also criticized the Biden administration’s “media blackout.”
They also placed the situation’s blame onto the administration leaders.
“There are lots of migrant families and unaccompanied children who are stranded at the border at overcrowded facilities,” Thune said. “It is a crisis of their own making.”
The other senators chimed in to give their thoughts on the migrant situation.
Daines stated that “Mexican drug cartel members” are being held at jails in his state and that large amounts of Mexican meth, heroin, and fentanyl are being transported through the area.
“This directly affects a northern state like Montana,” said Daines. “The meth, which used to be homemade in places like Montana, had a purity level of less than 30 percent. The Mexican cartel meth has a purity level of 90 percent.”
Daines stated that it is more difficult for a U.S. citizen to move across the border due to COVID-19 regulations than it is for an undocumented immigrant to cross illegally. He stated he does want the northern border open for tourists to come to Montana from Canada.
One senator noted that citizens that live along the border are more directly impacted by migrants than any other group of people.
“People along the border will feel ramifications [of migrants] on schools, security of their neighborhoods, on their own jobs,” Lee said.
Lee stated that he “has lived on the border for two years.” While the Utah senator does not presently reside in a border area, his website states that he served a two-year mission in the Rio Grande Valley for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon Church.
He went on to say that the Biden administration’s leniency on migration has allowed assault against migrants by smugglers to increase.
“According to one estimate, 30 percent of the girls and women brought by these cartels are subject to sexual assault,” Lee said. “This isn’t right. We’ve got to make sure our own laws are being applied.”
The remaining senators echoed the sentiments that the Biden administration’s handling of the migrant situation is a disaster.
They commented that the substantial growth in migrants traveling to the United States is a direct result of the Biden administration’s policies.
The lawmakers will visit facilities in Donna and McAllen on Friday.