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Texas Democrats express alarm about potential border crisis

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Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, whose district extends from the Rio Grande along the Mexican border to the San Antonio suburbs, is sounding the alarm about a potential border crisis in Texas.

More than 10,000 illegal immigrants have been apprehended at a single border sector in Texas in one week, he says, and the numbers keep growing.

“We are weeks, maybe even days, away from a crisis on the southern border. Inaction is simply not an option,” Cueller said in a news release. “Our country is currently unprepared to handle a surge in migrants in the middle of the pandemic.”

This is not the first warning Cuellar has issued about what could be a massive humanitarian crisis at the border, especially after Border Patrol in Brownsville, not in Cuellar’s district, released 108 illegal immigrants into the population who all tested positive for the coronavirus. Those released into the public were rapid-tested at the city’s main bus station.

Cuellar argues the current policy of releasing illegal immigrants into the population will only spread COVID-19 in southern Texas and throughout the state.

His office released figures showing that Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley arrested roughly 10,000 illegal immigrants in the past week alone, and an additional 2,500 more were apprehended in just two days after he issued the figures.

According to Border Patrol data, agents in Texas apprehended 5,700 unaccompanied child illegal immigrants in January alone.

People entering the U.S. illegally are “potentially exposing border communities to the coronavirus and putting us at risk,” Cuellar said, urging the Biden administration “to listen and work with the communities on the southern border who are dealing with the surge of migrants.”

Fellow Democrat Rep. Vicente Gonzalez says Biden’s immigration policy and proposed immigration bill is “catastrophic.”

“I can assure you, it won’t be long before we have tens of thousands of people showing up to our border, and it’ll be catastrophic for our country, for my region, for my district,” Gonozalez told CNN. “In the middle of a pandemic, in an area where we’ve lost over 3,000 people in my small congressional district … I think we need to have a better plan in place.”

In response, the Biden administration blamed former President Donald Trump, whose stated priority was border security and who built 450 miles of border wall for the first time in U.S. history.

“What we are seeing now at the border is the immediate result of the dismantlement of the system and the time that it takes to rebuild it virtually from scratch,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters, blaming the Trump administration.

Trump replied to the criticism Friday saying, “Our border is now totally out of control thanks to the disastrous leadership of Joe Biden.

“Our great Border Patrol and ICE agents have been disrespected, demeaned, and mocked by the Biden Administration,” Trump added, referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

“A mass incursion into the country by people who should not be here is happening on an hourly basis, getting worse by the minute. Many have criminal records, and many others have and are spreading covid,” he wrote in a statement released by an intermediary.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki then told reporters Friday, “We don’t take our advice or counsel from former President Trump on immigration policy, which was not only inhumane but ineffective over the last four years. We will chart our own path forward including treating children with respect and ensuring they're safe when they cross our borders.”

The Biden administration has opened overflow shelters to handle the influx of people pouring across the border and is releasing unaccompanied minors to relatives and sponsors in the U.S.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., sent a letter to Mayorkas on March 1, questioning the administration’s policies, citing reports of illegal immigrants being released into the population who tested positive for COVID-19.

“Refusing to use the authorities available to law enforcement during a global pandemic creates unsafe conditions for Border Patrol agents and the broader public, as well as for the children traveling to the border,” Johnson wrote. “Not surprisingly, it is also resulting in a surge at the southwest border that our facilities and infrastructure are not able to handle.”