WASHINGTON — House Democrats and Senate Republicans are staging dueling trips to the southwest border Friday as the Biden administration grapples with the surge in migrants crossing into the U.S. from Mexico.
The visits will present competing narratives about the situation at the border, where the homeland security secretary recently said the U.S. is on pace to reach the highest level of border crossings in 20 years.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, who represents the San Antonio area, is leading a delegation of his colleagues, including Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., to visit Carrizo Springs.
The facility there is operated by the Department of Health and Human Services, which provides temporary care for children who crossed the border without a parent or guardian. It can accommodate just under 1,000 children ages 13 to 17, the department said.
As of last week, there were about 11,100 such children in the department’s care.
Castro said the trip is meant to provide “to ensure humane treatment and orderly process to unite kids with families.”
Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, meanwhile, will lead a delegation of at least 18 Republican senators to Anzalduas Park in Mission, along the Rio Grande.
Cruz tweeted a video of himself late Thursday standing among tall river brush at night. He said he was on the banks of the Rio Grande past midnight, where he witnessed cartel members and human traffickers taunting U.S. Border Patrol. He claimed that under the policies of the Biden administration, the undocumented migrants “can flood over here.”
The visits come a day after President Joe Biden faced a number of questions about the growing challenge at the border during his first formal news conference as president. He said his administration is working to fix what he characterized as the mess left by the Trump administration’s policies and is taking care of unaccompanied children while sending single adults and most families back to Mexico and other countries.
“The only people we are not going to let be left sitting there on the other side of the Rio Grande by themselves with no help are children,” he said.
Biden announced Wednesday that he has tasked Vice President Kamala Harris to lead efforts to stem the flow of migrants across the border.