The crisis at the nation's southern border was created by the policies of President Joe Biden and his administration, and if he will not take action to solve the problem, Congress will, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Monday after leading a Republican congressional delegation on a tour of the border at El Paso, Texas.
"This is about the safety and security of our border," the California Republican said during an address from the border, backed by 12 other lawmakers who accompanied him. "It's also about the opportunity that Americans want and prosperity. This is where you should bring Air Force One, this is where you should look people in the eye, and talk to the border agents, let them know that this is beyond a crisis. You can continue to deny it, but the only way to solve it is to first admit what he has done."
And if Biden won't reverse his actions, it will "take congressional action to do it, and that's why we are here," said McCarthy.
"We want to find solutions," he said. "Before we even came here, we asked the president to work together to solve this problem. I thought maybe he would reach out, maybe set an appointment. He doesn't acknowledge a letter or even a crisis that his policy has created. We will work together across the aisle, within our own party, we know the solutions that will take."
McCarthy added that the delegation spoke with several people, including immigrants and border officials, and with "every party that we sat and talked to, we learned more about how it was created."
"Congressman (Carlos) Gimenez talked to a family from Honduras and asked how long they had been traveling," said McCarthy. "It was 22 days, (and) it's just a coincidence of the actions taken by President Biden about why people think they could come here and break the law."
McCarthy was accompanied on the tour by GOP Reps. John Katko, New York; Chuck Fleischmann, Tennessee; Clay Higgins, Louisiana; Tony Gonzales, Texas; Michael Cloud, Texas; Carlos Gimenez, Florida; Yvette Herrell, New Mexico; David Joyce, Ohio; Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Iowa; August Pfluger, Texas; John Rose, Tennessee; and Maria Salazar, Florida.
"We went to a new facility that was built a year ago and they went to a capacity they never thought they could meet," said McCarthy. "Today they broke that record. Today they went beyond capacity. They have to build into the parking lot a makeshift facility."
McCarthy added that the delegation learned that the migrants aren't only coming from Central America, but from other locations, such as Iran, Yemen, Sri Lanka, and more.
"As I walked through the facility, there were more Haitians than any other nationality I saw," said McCarthy. "Why are they coming now ... I talked to a doctor to see when they are being tested for COVID. More than 10% are testing positive, during a time when the president will keep our country closed. How much spread of COVID is he creating every single day by his policies along this border? It's wrong and it has to end. It needs to end now."
Several other members of the delegation also spoke after McCarthy to detail what they learned, including Rep. John Katko, N.Y., the GOP leader of the House Homeland Security Committee who had served as an organized crime prosecutor in the region.
"I was a federal crime prosecutor in the 90s and I was charged with going after the drug cartels," said Katko. "I have an understanding then and I do now that the cartels know how to exploit that southern border and they are doing it now masterfully. They are doing it because President Biden rolled back a lot of the previous administrative orders that were working."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others in the administration say the surge is caused because of pent-up demand from the Trump administration, he added, but "there is always a pent-up demand for crime."
"There is indeed disorder at the border by executive order, no question about it," he added. "First we went to the detention facility, and they are spending tens of thousands of dollars per day to feed the surge. They spend $10,000 more per day to transfer them. And they are taking away from things in the country that can benefit."
In addition to the immigrants not being tested for COVID, only about half of the Border Patrol agents have gotten their vaccines.
"When kids come across, if you don't think the drug traffickers are doing it, think again," he added. "Most of them have a piece of tape across her shirt with instructions and who they are and where they are going and what they need to do. It's very organized."
He said he's also concerned, as a ranking committee member, that there have been people caught in the last few days who are on the terrorism watch list.
"We need to wake up," Katko said. "President Biden, you are an okay guy. Just admit you made a mistake with this policy and go back to the way it was, keep America safe for all of us. Use that money we are wasting down here on our American citizens."
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