Sen. Chris Coons traveled with a US delegation of Senators to the McAllen Border Patrol Station in Texas on Friday to see for himself the conditions at the Mexican border. He spent Friday at the border visiting a border patrol station, two detention centers, and the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center.
Delaware’s junior Senator had strong words to describe his reaction to border conditions, calling them deplorable and drawing analogies to dog kennels.
In a series of short videos shared on Twitter, Coons said, “In our country, to have families and children in custody in the conditions I saw is unacceptable. The warehouse with adults and children in cages resembles a dog kennel. The United States of America is better than this. We can do better than this.”
Coons was joined on the trip by colleagues including Sens. Schumer, Rosen, Merkley, Durbin, Menendez, Blumenthal, Wyden, Casey, Cardin, and Reed. Coons and Sen. Tom Carper have called for the Trump administration to deploy $4.6 billion in aid for the humanitarian crisis at the border and to enforce measures already passed by Congress that would move children more quickly out of border facilities.
In one video Coons said he spoke to more than a dozen undocumented people who had crossed the border from South America who had been in the McAllen detention facility for weeks and some for over a month. He said they were living “under conditions that were not designed for people to be here anything like that length of time.”
Coons also noted the efforts of border patrol agents and humanitarian workers. “I respect that there are border patrol agents that are doing their best to try to accommodate these circumstances. But as a matter of policy by the Trump administration, this is unacceptable. The water which they are drinking here, which I tasted, is barely drinkable. Migrants who have been here for days or weeks haven’t had any chance to reach out to their family.”
Mexico is now struggling to deal with the influx of migrants from South America, from places like Honduras and Guatemala and Venezuela. And nearly 950,000 cases are pending in U.S. immigration courts.
For their part, the Trump administration has pursued a number of policy initiatives including enhancing enforcement measures, “zero tolerance” at the border, and stepped up deportation measures, including a recently introduced a new policy to expand the “alien expedited removal” process that will allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection officials to deport certain categories of undocumented immigrants anywhere in the U.S. without first having to gain judicial approval. The policy is expected to go into effect this week.