WASHINGTON — More images and details are emerging on the migrant crisis at the southern U.S. border — including how the government is housing unaccompanied minors and other immigrants.
The situation is challenging the Biden administration which immediately reversed former President Donald Trump’s hardline stances on immigration including construction of a border wall with Mexico. Biden and Democrats also support legal status for undocumented immigrants already in the U.S.
U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.-1st, has voiced concerns about more illegal drugs coming in the country along with Central American and other migrants. “This is why our southern border must be secured,” said Harris in a social media statement pointing to the rise in fentanyl seized at the border.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported it had seized 4,923 pounds of fentanyl during the first five months of the latest fiscal year. That is more than the entire previous area, according to the federal agency.
Fentanyl is a leading cause of fatal drug overdoses in Maryland and the Eastern Shore. Others are voicing concern about a rise child and sex trafficking and other human smuggling.
Other lawmakers — including U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas — have released videos and images of how immigrants, mostly from Central America, are being housed.
That includes thousands of unaccompanied teens and kids as well as families who are being housed in federal facilities. Many of the immigrants are fleeing poverty and gangs in Central American countries. Many of those same migrants are coming to the U.S. in search of work and a better quality of life.
Cruz and others worry about how many immigrants are being held in tight quarters and the prevalence of positive COVID-19 cases among the detained migrants.
The current crisis and images of how and where migrants are being held are a challenge for the Biden administration just as the Trump White House also faced scrutiny and criticism for how it handled previous surges.
Biden has put Vice President Kamala Harris in charge of the administration’s response to the migrant situation.
Cruz and other conservatives are critical of Biden on the border front saying his reversal of Trump’s policies and immigration reforms prompted more immigrants to illegally enter the U.S.
A Biden administration official did try to keep Cruz from videotaping conditions at a federal facility housing migrants in Texas. The official asked Cruz to allow the immigrants — who were crowded into plexiglass and plastic partitioned pods — it not video them for the sake of their dignity.
Cruz countered that the crowded conditions need to be shown and the situation on the border is a “humanitarian crisis.”
Former President Donald Trump, who faced significant criticism from Democrats and others for his immigration stances including a policy that temporarily separated families, also said this he weekend he wanted to visit the border.