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U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-2) visited the Mexico – United States border over the weekend on a bipartisan trip with Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01) that was hosted by Rep. Veronica Escobar (TX-16). The Congressmen visited an I.C.E. Detention Center in El Paso, a Port of Entry, the Bridge of the Americas (BOTA), the Annunciation House Non-Profit, and multiple border monuments. They also met with Border Patrol Agents, military personnel, and Advocates. Congressman Jeff Van Drew said the following:
“I am pleased to have observed that the conditions at the Detention Centers seems to have improved. The facilities were clean, and I thoroughly investigated the kitchen and meals, lavatory, and medical unit where they had dental services as well as multiple nurse practitioners offering help. Mexico’s help in allowing people to reside there while waiting for the hearing in the United States has dealt with over-crowding. The funds that we approved recently went to supplies and multiple new buildings that are due for completion in August capable of housing thousands in the case of an influx of immigrants in the future.
“Most importantly, separation of children from their parents has been eliminated, and we must ensure that it stays that way,” he added. “The atrocious situation that we saw this year is completely unacceptable. We cannot ever put children in cages again.
“Something that did concern me however is the fact that Border Patrol continues to be understaffed. These Officers must patrol the border on horseback or on foot completely alone due to the lack of support. It is a dangerous job. If they encounter immigrants, these solo patrols must apprehend the groups without backup. While they have military support from the Army and National Guard, they are limited in what help they can offer.
“The fault is in immigration and asylum policy, and it is something we must address as soon as possible. Firstly, we must at least double the judges at the border to deal with these immigration and asylum cases. There are simply not enough of them to deal with the amount of cases that we have.
“In dealing with policy, I stand behind my proposal for an orderly and legal immigration system.
1. We must completely redo our immigration and asylum laws.
2. Dreamers and the millions of immigrants that are currently here must be allowed to learn about the United States, take a test, pledge to the flag, and become citizens in the way that our grandparents and great-grandparents did.
3. We must have secure, intact, and strong borders.
“If we continue to work together in a bipartisan manner to address these issues, I know that we will be able to achieve this.”