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June 25, 2014

Congressmen Thompson, Hinojosa, and Vela to tour McAllen Border Patrol Detention Facility & Sacred Heart Church Refuge Center

June 25, 2014 (WASHINGTON) - Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Committee, will join Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) and Congressman Filemon Vela (D-TX), a member of House Homeland Security Committee, for a tour of McAllen Border Patrol detention facilities and briefing from Border Patrol agents regarding unaccompanied children at 9 a.m. Friday, June 27, 2014, at 3000 W. Military Highway McAllen, Texas 78503.


***PRESS CONFERENCE & MEDIA AVAILABILITY***

Who: Congressmen Hinojosa, Vela and Thompson

When: 10:15 a.m. immediately following the tour

Where: 3101 W. Military Highway McAllen, Texas 78503, directly across the street from the McAllen Border Patrol facility.

At 11:15 a.m. the Congressmen will then visit Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 306 S. 15th St, McAllen, TX 78501 to speak to unaccompanied children and volunteer workers who are assisting the refugees.


It is clear from Secretary Johnson's testimony before the Committee on Homeland Security this week that the humanitarian situation on the southern border is escalating, Rep. Thompson said. This visit will give us the opportunity to see the situation firsthand and the short term solutions that are in place to address it. As our Border Patrol and health and human services resources are being surged to tackle this crisis, we need to ensure they have adequate resources available to handle it.

The tremendous increase in undocumented immigrant apprehension, especially unaccompanied children, is critical and this is why I invited my colleagues who serve on the Homeland Security Committee to get a firsthand look at the situation we are experiencing along the South Texas border, said Rep. Hinojosa. With the influx of thousands of unaccompanied children, this is clearly a security issue as well as a humanitarian issue. The reports we have been given by federal agencies who are involved in dealing with this matter are shocking and solutions must be found. The time to fix our broken immigration system is long overdue and this is a clear example of why we need comprehensive immigration reform now.

In my view, this is not just a border crisis, we have several crises that we must confront if we want to effectively address the issue of migration, including the issue of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America entering U.S. through Southern Border, Rep. Vela said. We have a Central American crisis due to violence and social and economic issues there, a surge of unaccompanied minors coming to U.S., and an immigration crisis regarding current immigration policies. Over 60 percent of unaccompanied minors apprehended by Border Patrol on Southern Border are coming to reunite with parents who are already living here. We must work together with Central American countries and Mexico to ensure we are treating these children humanely while addressing the issue of migration by following current law.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which cares for the children post apprehension by the Border Patrol, approximately 3,100 unaccompanied children remain in Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) custody in the Rio Grande Valley. So far 60% of the children are being reunited with a parent and 20% are reunited with a family member. Up to now, 1,100 have been returned to their country. HHS reports about 340 children are apprehended daily along the South Texas border.

Congressman Hinojosa added, Since we received word of the influx of apprehensions along our border, the overcrowded conditions and the reports of diseases among the detainees, I asked for an immediate investigation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and they responded right away. I along with my staff have received constant updates on the actions taken by DHS, ICE, the Department of Health and Human Services, FEMA and the U.S. Coast Guard. These agencies teamed up to stem the overcrowding and to bring more medical assistance to the Border Patrol Facilities in the McAllen sector. Just last week, I held a meeting with the ambassadors and staff of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico to determine what is causing the exodus of undocumented immigrants into our country. With the information we received, we were able to inform the White House and DHS on some of the causes. I believe this information is vital to curbing the serious situation at hand.

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Media Contact:
(Hinojosa) Patricia Guillermo at (202) 225-2531
(Homeland Security Democrats) Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978