The challenges we are facing at the border with the immigrants seeking asylum is now a crisis. The finger pointing and political rhetoric from Republicans and Democrats must end and we should come together to find short-term solutions and a response that is humane and secures our border. We must take appropriate action that not only protects migrants but also protects the residents of our communities. All, while at the same time being aware that we are still dealing with a pandemic and our hospitals are again facing both staffing and ICU bed shortages.
Just last week, the Chief Patrol Agent of the Rio Grande Valley Sector stated that the “RGV has encountered a significant increase in apprehensions that has strained the capacity at RGV Border Patrol stations.” He also added, “In Fiscal Year 2021, RGV’s apprehensions are up approximately 529% as compared to Fiscal Year 2020.” These statements are alarming and are concerning to me and our border communities as many of the migrants being tested have been COVID positive.
Making matters worse, is that there is no one supervising the migrants that have tested positive for COVID. It has been reported that these individuals and their families are going into our communities, our restaurants and stores, without masks — potentially spreading the virus to others. This is especially concerning as we have the DELTA variant spreading very rapidly across our state and our nation.
While we are blessed to have organizations like the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, under the leadership of Sister Norma Pimentel, who provide shelter, food, and clothing to immigrants, they too are at capacity. It has left Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos, and other city mayors with no other option than to issue local disaster declarations. These declarations are to address concerns with the lack of resources and infrastructure in place to continue sheltering and facilitating the release of migrants from federal custody.
It is clear that public, private, and non-profit resources have been stretched to the limit and Congress has done nothing to help us respond to this immigration crisis. Members of Congress visiting South Texas for discussions on border security have just been here for photo-ops and press conferences with no real action. This immigration problem has been going on for far too long and enough is enough.
The Biden administration needs to work with Congress to reform our broken immigration system and fix the underlying problem. However, in the short-term, just taking the necessary actions to slow the rate of immigrants crossing the border and having better control of their release, will help keep our communities safer and secure.
We must define and protect our borders. We have the right to know who is coming into our country. A country is no longer a nation if it doesn’t defend and protect its border. For our current crisis, I’m not blaming immigrants. They are following the message they are hearing from our federal government which is come to the U.S and with catch and release currently in place, if you make it here you will likely stay. I place full responsibility on the federal government for this message and for the failure to control and secure our border.