McAllen, TX -- Congressman Greg Walden toured the border region near the Rio Grande, Monday, and spoke with patrol agents and administrators. The Oregon Republican visited a centralized processing center and an office of Refugee Resettlement that care for both adults and children who've entered the country to seek asylum. He then traveled to the Rio Grande border crossing area to view patrols in action.
Walden believes drug cartels are taking advantage of the border situation, "They use the human trafficking to overload our system, and then they can get their drugs across a lot easier because we're busy, consumed I'd say, with dealing humanely with all these unaccompanied minors, adults, and families, and so they're making money both ways and tying us up." He tells KBND News it can cost as much as $8,000 for a person to get into the U.S., which only benefits the cartels and their coyotes.
His first stop was the processing center in McAllen, Texas, where both children and adults are held for up to 72 hours. Walden says many who've just crossed the Rio Grande stand in the road and wait to be picked up and taken to the center, "This is where they get showers and fresh clothes and meals and medical attention. This strikes me that this isn't about chasing people down at the border; they're actually coming into the arms, if you will, of border security folks." He adds, "They've made it across the Rio Grande and frankly, the safest part of their journey is being in the United States in Border Patrol custody."
Rep. Walden says the unintended consequences of a strict Zero Tolerance policy aside, it's important to enforce immigration laws, "We know that aggressively enforcing immigration laws at the border has reduced the number of people crossing into the United states illegally. Here, they went to this 'zero tolerance for all' and then separated the families and that was a mistake - shouldn't have been done. And I'm glad they've reversed it, and now we've got to reunite these young children with their parents." But, he says the next step is comprehensive Immigration reform, "I'm just disappointed that the House and the Senate weren't able to pass either of the bills that were up for consideration. We need to change the law, and I'm going to keep working until we do."