HOUSTON — Congressional Democrats and Republicans called for change Friday after visiting migrant facilities near the Texas-Mexico border.
Members of the Texas delegation led those trips to the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas. Lawmakers said they want to get a firsthand look at the rising number of crossings.
Border Patrol officials said they’re encountering about 5,000 migrants a day, including more than 500 unaccompanied children. Officials said Friday they expect numbers to increase in summer.
Roughly 17,000 unaccompanied children were in U.S. custody as of Friday.
Many migrants eventually travel far beyond the border to cities across the United States, including Houston.
Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn led a group of 19 Senate Republicans joining Border Patrol on a midnight shift Friday along the Rio Grande in Hidalgo County.
"Right across the river we heard coyotes, human smugglers, saying, 'We're coming,’” said U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina).
Sen. Cruz said cartel members were shining flashlights and taunting lawmakers.
The senators also saw a large group of migrants, mostly women and children, being processed under a bridge.
“I spoke to a number of them,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). “They were from mostly Honduras and Guatemala. They’ve been walking for literally two months.”
On Friday afternoon, the same group of GOP senators took a boat tour along the Rio Grande with DPS. They also visited an overcrowded Border Patrol detention center in Donna.
“Those (migrant) numbers are rising, and they are rising because of the Biden administration’s mistakes,” Sen. Cruz said during a press conference.
On Friday afternoon, Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) led a delegation of Democrats to visit an Office of Refugee Resettlement facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, for unaccompanied children found crossing the border.
Rep. Castro said President Joe Biden inherited a broken immigration system from the Trump administration.
“The Biden administration is trying to respect international law and United States law,” Rep. Castro said.
Rep. Castro said he and his fellow Democrats were there to find solutions.
“We’re here today to go back to Washington and offer recommendations for how this process can be improved,” Rep. Castro said.
On Saturday, four members of the Texas Congressional Democratic Delegation will join four other Democrat House members and one Republican in El Paso.
According to a press release from Congressman Al Green (D-Houston), the group will meet with non-governmental organizations and immigration advocates, visit a Border Patrol processing center, an ORR facility for unaccompanied minors, a migrant shelter, and a port of entry.
President Biden vowed to open new facilities to cut down on overcrowding. FEMA has opened emergency shelters in Dallas and Midland.
City and county officials told KHOU 11 on Thursday there were no plans to house new migrants in Houston.