Politics

Democratic representative calls on Biden administration to act on surge of migrants at Southern border

On Saturday Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat representing Texas’ 28th Congressional District, called on the Biden administration to toughen up on some safety procedures related to the surge of migrants arriving at the Southern border in recent weeks.

As the Biden administration faces growing pressure to deal with the rising influx of migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border, one Democrat leader from Texas is speaking out about his concerns when it comes to some of the policies and procedures being put in place by the new President. Henry Cuellar has represented the 28th Congressional District in Texas since 2005. The district stretches from the Mexican border in Laredo and Rio Grande City up to the suburbs of San Antonio. Cuellar, who has stated publicly that he supports Biden, expressed concern to Fox News on Saturday that not enough coronavirus testing is being done on incoming migrants before they are released into Texas communities in his district and other districts in the region.

Cuellar has sounded the alarm several times now about an impending humanitarian crisis at the border, after a massive uptick in border crossings in recent weeks since the Trump administration’s immigration policies were reversed by President Biden. “We are weeks, maybe even days, away from a crisis on the southern border. Inaction is simply not an option,” Cuellar said in a news release last week. According to Cuellar’s office, over 12,500 illegal immigrants have been apprehended in one week in Texas, and the numbers are expected to grow. Cuellar urged the Biden administration “to listen and work with the communities on the southern border who are dealing with the surge of migrants.”

He worries that lax coronavirus mitigation procedures will lead to an outbreak of COVID-19 in border communities as many migrants are only tested using rapid-testing prior to being released into Texas towns. Rapid tests results, which can take as little as 15 minutes, are notoriously less reliable than PCR tests, which take 2-3 days to return results. In Brownsville, Texas, 108 illegal immigrants who tested negative for COVID-19 using rapid testing at a bus station prior to their release into the public last month ended up testing positive in the weeks following. Cuellar told Fox News that more mitigation needs to be implemented in all areas of the border situation, including getting all border patrol agents vaccinated against COVID-19.

While the city did provide CDC guidance to the migrants regarding coronavirus, the city cannot legally contain them after they have been released, according to city spokesman Felipe Romero. Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in a press briefing on Friday that more unaccompanied minors are expected to arrive at the border now that Biden has reversed Trump-era immigration policies. Cuellar said that the new administration has a responsibility to the migrants and the residents of US border communities to handle the surge effectively, saying during his interview, “Biden owns this now.” Cuellar says he hopes to have the chance to discuss some of his concerns with senior officials from the Biden administration in the coming weeks when they visit Texas to tour border patrol facilities and assess the government response to the developing situation.

ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK

POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: AP NEWS

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