WINDSOR TERRACE — The crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border is “completely outrageous” and getting worse by the day, according to Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis, who recently traveled to Texas to get a firsthand look.
“What I saw was disorder and chaos,” Malliotakis told Current News on April 15. “It was a very alarming trip.”
Malliotakis described the conditions at the border as “a humanitarian crisis” as well as a national security crisis.
Malliotakis, a Republican representing New York’s 11th Congressional District (Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn), went to the Rio Grande Valley on April 9 as part of a delegation of GOP House members. The trip was organized by Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, the House minority whip. The lawmakers visited a center in Donna, Texas, where migrant children are being housed, and talked to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents.
Malliotakis said she witnessed heartbreaking scenes of kids in overcrowded spaces.
“Children are being jammed and crammed into bubbles where they stay all day long on top of each other,” she said.
Malliotakis said the facility is set up to accommodate 250 people, but “they had 4,000 individuals there.”
She also expressed concern that the flood of migrants entering the U.S. is coming at a time when the nation is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The facility was “certainly not part of social distancing,” she said.
Illegal border crossings are at a 15-year high, according to CBP data. CBP took 170,000 people — including 18,500 unaccompanied minors — into custody in March, an increase from 78,000 in January.
The delegation also visited an intake center where migrants are processed in McAllen, Texas, and toured the Rio Grande River on a boat.
Malliotakis said CBP agents told the congressional delegation that cartels are smuggling people across the border and making a ton of money doing it.
“You’re talking half a billion [dollars] that the cartels are making. They are viewing people as a commodity,” she said.
She said CBP agents described a horrific incident in which smugglers threw a 6-month-old baby into the Rio Grande from a raft because the agents were closing in. The smugglers knew the agents would stop chasing them and concentrate on saving the baby.
Malliotakis, who supported former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, laid the blame for the border crisis at the feet of President Joe Biden. She charged that Biden’s border policies, which include allowing unaccompanied minors into the country, have caused the situation to escalate.
At a March 25 press conference, Biden disputed charges that his policies are responsible for the situation. The increase in people crossing into the U.S. is a seasonal spike that “happens every year,” he said.
The administration is taking steps to address the situation — including setting up a 5,000-bed facility, the president said.
Biden said his administration is looking at the long-term by increasing financial aid to Central American countries to improve living conditions in their nations so that migrants won’t be so desperate to flee.
Malliotakis called for the reinstatement of migrant protocols that Trump had put in place. Those protocols included having people seeking asylum wait in their home countries as their cases were processed.
The U.S. needs to “send a message that our borders are not open for illegal migration,” Malliotakis said.