GOP Texas lawmakers tour South Texas, urge White House to visit ‘ground zero’ for migrant influx

Border Report Tour

Inaccuracies in news conference despite their calls "for the truth" by Biden administration

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MISSION, Texas (Border Report) — A group of Republican lawmakers on Tuesday repeatedly called out President Joe Biden and his administration for perpetuating what they say is a “crisis on the border,” but some misspoke as they delivered information and had to walk-back comments when questioned by Border Report.

The group visited the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas on Tuesday and held a news conference on the banks of the Rio Grande, where they also chastised Vice President Kamala Harris, who has been named Border Czar, for not yet visiting the region and repeatedly asked her to come see the situation for herself.

The group of 10 included all lawmakers from Texas and was led by U.S. Reps. Jodey Arrington, of Lubbock, and Brian Babin, of Houston. And their visit followed just days after Republican U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both of Texas, also led a legislative delegation to this very spot at Anzalduas Park.

The group took a riverboat tour and visited a migrant processing facility in the nearby town of Donna, Texas, and during a news conference on Friday morning, Arrington blamed Biden “for not enough transparency or truth.”

“There is certainly not enough access to the facts that the American people desperately need to know and the folks best to tell that are the ones here at ground zero and the members of Congress who are deeply concerned about their country and the crisis at this border,” Arrington said.

A group of GOP lawmakers hold a news conference on Friday, March 30, 2021, on the banks of the Rio Grande in Mission, Texas. Joining them were sheriffs from several Texas counties, far left. (Border Report Photo/Sandra Sanchez)

Standing shoulder to shoulder with the lawmakers were sheriffs from several counties in South Texas, as well as former U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan and former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Tom Homan, who both served during the Trump administration.

All took turns during the 90-minute news conference to in one way or another charge the Biden administration with “lies,” “falsehoods” and “half-truths” relating to an increase of migrants coming from Central America via Mexico into South Texas right now.

Former CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan speaks on Friday, March 30, 2021, during a news conference at Anzalduas Park in Mission, Texas. (Border Report Photo/Sandra Sanchez)

Morgan said that he predicts 150,000 migrants will be apprehended by CBP officers during March. However, when questioned about the figure by Border Report after the news conference, Morgan admitted that he does not have official data, which won’t be released until early next month.

He said this is a tremendous increase in apprehensions from March 2020, but that was during the start of the coronavirus pandemic and Title 42 travel restrictions were imposed by President Donald Trump forbidding any migrants from crossing or claiming asylum in the United States in order to reduce the spread of the virus.

Some of the lawmakers appeared confused by the immigration terms and policies and gave false information and data, which Border Report questioned them about.

Arrington said the Biden administration wants to get rid of the word “illegal,” but when asked about it by Border Report after the news conference, Arrington admitted he misspoke. They want to get rid of using the term “illegal alien,” he said.

Replacing “alien” with the word “noncitizen” has been proposed as part of the President Joe Biden’s sweeping immigration overhaul bill that was sent to Congress this week under the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021.

Babbin told media that the Biden administration was warned and yet still did away with the Migrant Protection Protocols, or “Remain in Mexico” program, as well as Title 42. However, Title 42 travel restrictions still remain at least through April 21.

When asked by Border Report to clarify what he meant, Babbin took the microphone and said: “Your question about what I said about the Biden administration reversing MPP that pertains to UACs. That pertains to UACs.”

Morgan then corrected him and said: “It’s Title 42.” And Babbin said, “Title 42, public health restrictions, they have done away with that for the unaccompanied children for other people it has not been done away with. Thank you for your question”

Another lawmaker referenced the importance of them being “on this very spot in McAllen” to witness the events. However, the news conference was held in Mission, Texas.

“This is not political rhetoric. This is the truth by a plain-spoken guy. I’m a dentist,” Babbin said.

“It’s out of control and absolute chaos,” Arrington said.

Republican lawmakers and law enforcement leaders speak with media following a news conference on March 30, 2021, on the banks of the Rio Grande in Mission, Texas. (Border Report Photo/Sandra Sanchez)

The group said they saw 5,700 migrants at the CBP tent processing facilities in Donna, Texas. But as the GOP lawmakers were speaking, a pool of print and broadcast media were finally allowed to tour the Donna facility and they reported that there were 4,100 migrants in the facility including 3,400 unaccompanied migrant children. Of those, 39 youth had been at the facility for at least 15 days.

The Associated Press, which represented print media on the tour, said there were over 500 Border Patrol agents working the facility with 90 per shift, and that the average length of time spent by a migrant at the facility is 133 hours. On Monday, DHS turned over 600 unaccompanied migrant youth to officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

U.S. Rep. Beth Van Duyne, of  Irving, Texas, said the lawmakers were told not to take photos or video of inside the facility but she witnessed “pod after pod of kids lying on the ground without room to see the floor.”

“There is no plan. The administration has no plan,” she said.

The lawmakers also repeatedly commented that the children were at-risk for coronavirus being in such close quarters at the Donna facility, calling it a “COVID den.”

None of the lawmakers on Friday wore masks during the news conference.

On Friday afternoon, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to Vice President Harris asking the administration for answers and to “take swift action to secure the border” and calling on Harris to the visit the border “and see the crisis.”

Harris yesterday met with Central American leaders to get to the “root causes” fueling the high rates of migration, she said in a tweet.

There is no word from the White House whether Biden or Harris intend to travel to South Texas. This story will be updated if information is received.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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