Blumenthal Visits Southern Border, Sees ‘Continuing Humanitarian Crisis’

July 19, 2019 - 4:08 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A group of local lawmakers headed to the United States southern border on Friday to visit a detention facility in the area.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal and other members of Congress, including Sens. Chuck Schumer and Bob Menendez, headed to McAllen, Texas to inspect points of entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection station and an immigration detention facility.

In a phone interview with WCBS 880’s Steve Scott, Blumenthal gave his first impressions of the facilities saying, “What we’re seeing is a continuing humanitarian crisis with facilities that are overcrowded.”

“What strikes me most overwhelmingly is the need for comprehensive reform of this broken immigration system with a path to citizenship for people who are now in the shadows, as well as border security and more people with skills welcome here, but the kinds of hardships endured by this families – particularly the children, more than half of all of these people coming to detention facilities are children – is just overwhelming,” Blumenthal added.

The Connecticut Democrat reiterated what many who have visited the southern border have said before: the facilities are overflowing with people and many are unaccompanied children, being kept in dirty conditions.

He says that, through a translator, he and fellow members of Congress have “heard stories of incredible endurance and perseverance” from those who have traveled for months to make it to the journey to America.

“So many of the moms and dads, literally with infants or young children in their arms, waiting for a shower, waiting for a hot meal, many detained for longer than they should be before they are sent to more permanent places for them to be, and of course the holding facilities seem and look very much like detention, even prison facilities, so the nation really has to better,” Blumenthal said of what he saw during his visit.

He adds that the people often being detained are asylum seekers and notes “the survival of their families depends on their getting out of those countries like Honduras and Guatemala.”

The local lawmakers’ visit comes just days after the Trump administration said it will end all asylum protections for most migrants who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border. The rule states that migrants who pass through another country —Mexico — on their way to the U.S. will be ineligible for asylum. It also applies to all children who have crossed the border alone.

Listen to the full interview with Sen. Richard Blumenthal above.