A prominent Democrat on the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security seems to have two different interpretations of the situation at the southern U.S. border where tens of thousands of illegal immigrants from Central America have been apprehended.
“I disagree it is in devastating condition,” Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said of what some are calling a “border crisis” in an interview Thursday with MSNBC.
“I think with now 21,000 border patrol agents is under control.”
But her statement seems to contradict the one currently on Jackson Lee’s congressional website.
“She believes that our country currently has deficient border security, which is the result of a history of congressional under-funding,” the site reads.
The flow of illegal immigrants this year has more than doubled last year’s numbers, leaving DHS and its immigration agencies scrambling to keep up.
Since Oct. 1, 57,000 unaccompanied children and at least 39,000 mothers with children have been apprehended. Besides diverting resources and man-hours, the uptick has also forced DHS and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide temporary housing for the illegal immigrants.
There have been some reports that Customs and Border Protection agents, instead of monitoring the border, are being used to provide basic care to the apprehended immigrants, including changing infants’ diapers.
At a Senate hearing on Thursday, DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson said that perhaps 90,000 unaccompanied children could be apprehended by the end of the fiscal year – a three-fold increase over 2013.
Because of a 2008 anti-trafficking law, DHS is required to turn over border-crossers from countries that do not border the U.S. to HHS. From there, that agency houses them while searching for sponsors in the U.S., which house them until deportation proceedings commence.
Whether Jackson Lee truly believes that the border is “under control” or its security is “deficient,” the Obama administration has been forced to acknowledge the area’s troubling conditions.
Earlier this week, Obama said he would be asking Congress for $3.7 billion in supplemental spending to handle various aspects of the immigration problem. The bill would increase spending on enforcement, immigration judges, and to provide more temporary housing and legal services to the apprehended immigrants.
President Obama came under heavy criticism earlier this week when, during a fundraising trip to Texas, he opted against visiting the border. Instead, he held a brief meeting with Gov. Rick Perry.