McALLEN, Texas (Nexstar) — U.S. Rep Tom Rice, R-Myrtle Beach, is traveling with the Vice President and a group of Republican senators to tour a migrant detention center and meet border patrol officers.
“On my way to the southern border with Senator Graham, Vice President Pence, and other Republican Senators to see the crisis at the border firsthand,” Rep. Rice posted on his social media on Friday. “We are getting briefed by DHS on border crisis causes and solutions now.”
VP Pence is traveling with the group to Texas for a visit to the Rio Grande Valley amid questions about conditions in facilities where immigrants are being detained.
” Our broken immigration system has caused a crisis on our southern border,” Rep. Rice posted. “After spending months claiming the crisis was ‘manufactured,’ at least Democratic leadership now admits that the record number of migrants attempting to cross into our country is a crisis.”
The visit is scheduled to include a tour of a processing facility in Donna, for people caught crossing into the United States illegally. According to the White House, he’ll also participate in a roundtable discussion at a Border Patrol station in McAllen.
State Sen. Pete Flores was glad to learn members of President Donald Trump’s administration and other Washington lawmakers had made plans to visit the Texas border. Flores represents more than 450 miles between El Paso and the RGV. He said part of the border trouble stems from border agents being overwhelmed.
“The Border Patrol, God bless ’em, are doing a heck of a job, but the agents you know are way over-taxed,” said Flores, R-Pleasanton.
In an interview in his Capitol office this week, Flores said the current system is unsustainable.
“That’s everything from the Border Patrol being overwhelmed and their ability to process and their ability to maintain the integrity of the border, to the courts, to the facilities,” Flores explained.
He advocated for more immigration judges being injected into the process to more rapidly handle the influx of migrants asking for asylum.
“That’s something we need to ask our Congressmen,” Flores said. “I think that… having more immigration judges is a big step in the right direction.”
Joining the Vice President will be U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Flores and other state lawmakers hope the federal delegation gets a clearer picture of the situation by seeing it first-hand.
“The truth shall set you free,” said State Rep. Alex Dominguez, D-Brownsville.
“Vice President Pence, I believe, is a great Christian man, and I believe that his heart can be open to coming down to the Rio Grande Valley or El Paso and seeing what’s down there,” Dominguez said Thursday. “And he’ll see that there is need for attention by the government.”
Dominguez also mentioned a need for more immigration judges and additional funding for detention facilities.
“We don’t have enough personnel to process these claims,” he said. “We need to be doing a little bit more to put money into those facilities to process people.”