Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are warning that the growing numbers of migrant children and their families who are filling holding facilities on the nation's border with Mexico are facing a dire situation, while record numbers of people are being apprehended while trying to enter the country.
Department of Homeland Security officials, along with Democrat and Republican lawmakers, toured the El Paso, Texas, sector at the border Friday, where they said they saw hundreds of children who were packed into open rooms while even more families kept coming across the border at night, reports The Washington Post.
Meanwhile, conditions are said to be worse in the Rio Grande Valley, court-appointed monitor Paul Wise told U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles on Friday, when he spoke on the conditions migrant children are facing. He said he saw "significant overcrowding" in the facilities in Donna, Texas, and at Border Patrol stations, and that he also had visited emergency intake centers in Midland, Texas, and Dallas on Friday.
The main problem, he said, is the difficulty that Customs and Border Patrol agents are having in moving unaccompanied minors to Health and Human Services shelters.
"The current status does not represent a sustainable situation," said Wise, warning that if the numbers of immigrants continue to grow, the systems are going to "inevitably begin to unravel."
Friday, CBP requested airplanes to take migrants to states near the Canadian border, according to Department of Homeland Security officials and an email The Post reviewed.
CBP said in a statement, however, that there are no current plans to transfer the migrants, and officials didn't answer questions about if the government would provide winter clothing for people sent to northern states.
Meanwhile, more than 29,000 unaccompanied minors came into the United States across the border from October through February, nearly twice as many as crossed during the same period last year.
Friday, HHS said there are 9,800 unaccompanied minors in its shelters. However, there are 4,700 more children and teenagers being held in Border Patrol facilities that were designed for adults, and their average time in custody has been for 135 hours, almost twice the legal limit of 72 hours.
In the past 24 hours alone, groups as large as 400 people, who are families and children, have arrived in the Rio Grande Valley in the past 24 hours, according to CBP agents.
CBP Chief Brian Hastings there said agents brought more than 2,000 into custody on Thursday alone with 10,000 arrests and detentions taking place in less than a week.
He also posted on Twitter that the sector has brought in more than 34,000 migrants so far in March, a figure twice as high as had come in during January.
The Washington Post reports it has reviewed internal Department of Homeland Security communications, which refer to the overcrowding as an emergency and urges HHS to take custody of minors, but DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas did not have an immediate comment Friday after joining a bipartisan delegation of senators for a tour in El Paso.
The lawmakers, who are members of the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in El Paso, said they witnessed dire conditions during their visits.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, described seeing migrants coming across the border during a night patrol Thursday night, and said President Joe Biden's approach to the situation has "failed."
"It was stunning to see how many people, including unaccompanied children, unlawfully crossed the border during my ride-along," said Portman, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee.
He added that smugglers are using families to detract agents, while others are trafficking drugs into the United States.
"We are still early in the year and not yet in the peak season for migrant travel, so we are likely to see continued increases in unlawful immigrants and deadly narcotics at our border unless the Biden administration changes its failed approach," he said.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said he "fought back tears" when watching a crying 13-year-old girl saying she was terrified after she was separated from her grandmother. He also said he witnessed hundreds of children "packed into big open rooms."
Murphy, however, said he doesn't blame the Biden administration for the chaos, but still added that the situation is desperate.
"Seeing the wall in person is unexpectedly devastating," Murphy said. "How did it come to this, that a country defined by our warm embrace of immigrants now must be defined by our irrational fear of them? We must be better.”
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va., said the surge of minors is "a tragedy" and called on Twitter for "swift action," saying it "needs to be taken NOW to end this humanitarian crisis."
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.