Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ remarks.
McAllen, TX—U.S. Senator Susan Collins joined a CODEL of 18 Senators to learn more about the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, where an unprecedented number of migrants, including unaccompanied children, have entered the United States during the past several weeks.
Last month, the Department of Homeland Security reported that Border Patrol encounters with people crossing the southern border spiked significantly, up 174% from February 2020. Overwhelmed border control agents also told the Senators that more than 860 convicted felons were captured crossing in one 56-mile stretch of the border.
The Senators arrived in Texas last night, where they met with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers to hear their on-the-ground perspective and to tour processing centers where people crossing illegally are held initially. They joined agents with the CBP’s midnight shift in surveilling the banks of the Rio Grande.
Senator Collins made this observation at the Rio Grande:
“This has been truly extraordinary. It's midnight. We're on the banks of the Rio Grande and across the river, we can hear the sounds of cartel members, taunting us, yelling at us. They're exploiting vulnerable women and children. They are smuggling drugs into this country. And we owe a real debt of thanks to our border patrol agents who are out here all night long, intercepting those who are coming into the country illegally. I talked with a young mother with a very young child today. And she told me that she had paid a smuggler $6,000 to bring her into this country. This system is inhumane. It's dangerous. It's bringing not only vulnerable women and children into this country illegally, but also those who are spreading fentanyl and heroin throughout our cities. I'm very grateful to the border patrol agents that I've met tonight. They are putting themselves in danger each and every day to help secure our borders. They need our help. They need better policies from Washington.”
The CBP’s Rio Grande Valley Sector, headquartered in McAllen, Texas, has experienced the highest number of border encounters, including dramatically higher encounters of unaccompanied children and families.
Some CBP officers in Maine have been temporarily reassigned to the Rio Grande Valley Sector. Many of them are working at the Donna migrant processing overflow facility that Senator Collins visited this morning.