EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — The last time U.S. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) was in El Paso the migrant surge was peaking and border officials were struggling to care for more people than they could handle.
Shelters were at capacity, hundreds of people were surrendering to agents at the border every day and migrant advocates were alerting about a brewing humanitarian crisis.
But after touring U.S. Border Patrol facilities this week, the ranking House Appropriations Committee member said she saw much improvement.
“It’s so much better than it was when this all started. when everybody was grasping for what to do,” Granger said on Saturday. “I tell you, what they’re doing, they all need a gigantic pat on the back because of what they’re doing. They’re taking in families with very small children, they’re taking care of the babies, the children, the mothers and fathers, the food the showers and trying to get them moved as quickly as possible.”
She said the situation — migrants traveling 2,000 miles from Central America with little resources and a slim hope of getting asylum in the United States — is unfortunate, but added she’s satisfied with the response from the agents on the ground that have to cope with it.
“It’s tragic, but I’m glad we’re doing it the way we’re doing it,” she said.
Granger’s trip included a tour of border wall construction west of El Paso, a visit to immigration court and a walk-through of the U.S. Border Patrol station in Northeast El Paso. The Fort Worth Republican did not say if she crossed into Juarez, Mexico, where thousands of asylum seekers have been sent to wait for their next court hearings, sometimes months away and sometimes falling prey to criminals.
“I know this is not how immigration court works, but they’re doing too many people and so they’re running three courts a day and hundreds of people,” she said. “Courts need more funding.”
She also expressed support for replacement of border wall because previous structures weren’t as effective in slowing down unauthorized migration. The new steel-bollard wall replacing plank, chain-link or vehicle barrier is accompanied by sensors, lights and other technology.
One of the objectives of Granger’s tour is to determine if government funding for immigration and border security is being used effectively and whether more money is needed.
“I think we’re going to be able to pass a bill that includes continued funding for what’s happening and some extra funding for some things we didn’t have before,” she said, adding she wasn’t familiar with local criticism of the MPP program. “I think the policies in some cases are helping in some case they aren’t. That’s why I go back and forth” from North Texas to the border.
She added that her district is geographically far from the U.S.-Mexico border (about 600 miles from El Paso), but emphasized that illegal immigration is an issue that concerns everyone in Texas.
“We’re in North Texas, but all of Texas is certainly affected by what has happened,” she said. “The people of Texas are very supportive of what we’re trying to do.”