Senator Ted Cruz and 18 of his Republican colleagues have released shocking photos and video showing children packed into migrant camps, blaming President Joe Biden for the crisis at the southern border.
‘This is inhumane, it is wrong and it is the direct consequence of policy decisions by the Biden administration to stop building the wall, to return to catch-and-release, and to end the stay-in-Mexico policy,’ Cruz said at a press conference on Friday.
Cruz, Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma and others shared heartbreaking images of a severely overcrowded holding facility in Donna, Texas, where Lankford said that ‘pods’ designed to hold 80 children are packed with more than 700.
The remarks and new images came after Cruz led the delegation on a midnight border tour late Thursday, during which Cruz claimed he could hear human smugglers ‘taunting’ Border Patrol from across the Rio Grande.
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Senator Ted Cruz and 18 of his Republican colleagues have released shocking photos and video showing children packed into migrant camps, blaming President Joe Biden for the crisis at the southern border
The senators said that ‘pods’ at Donna designed to hold 80 children are packed with more than 700
Ted Cruz tweeted photos from his tour of an overcrowded shelter for migrant teens in Donna, Texas; he toured the shelter with fellow Republican senators
‘I know why President Biden doesn’t want the media to be here — because we do have an open border,’ said Lankford, referring to Biden’s continued refusal to let journalists visit holding facilities or accompany Border Patrol agents on patrol.
‘Last night we stood under that bridge and watched as families, if they had a six-year-old or younger, within hours you were processed and released into the country,’ he continued.
‘If you were an unaccompanied minor, you were sent over to the Donna facility, which we went over and visited. That facility is designed for 80 people in a pod, and they had 709 people… literally wall to wall in every one of the little plexiglass cells that they have, and people flooding out into the hallway,’ Lankford said.
Lankford said that cartel smugglers were using large groups of families and minors who surrender at the border as a way to distract Border Patrol from other crossing points, where large groups of solo adults can cross undetected.
‘This is nonsensical what we’re seeing in policy, and we saw none of this just three months ago,’ he said.
On Thursday alone, approximately 6,000 adults and children were apprehended along the southern border, according to a senior official — far more than during the busiest months of the Trump administration in 2019.
Biden has insisted that his policies are not responsible for the huge surge of illegal crossings at the border, and said that he is planning to open huge new facilities to house and process migrants.
‘I’ve been working from the moment this started to happen to try to find additional access for children to be able to safely — not just children, but particularly children — to be able to safely be housed while we follow through on the rest of what’s happening,’ Biden said at a press conference on Thursday.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (red shirt) stand aboard a Texas Department of Public Safety boat for a tour of part of the Rio Grande on Friday. Local agencies such as DPS are assisting overwhelmed Border Patrol
Cruz led the delegation on an armed boat patrol of the Rio Grande as they learned about challenges in enforcement
Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and other members of a Republican delegation tour a section of the U.S.-Mexico border on a Texas Highway Patrol vessel in Mission, Texas on Friday
‘That facility is designed for 80 people in a pod, and they had 709 people… literally wall to wall in every one of the little plexiglass cells that they have, and people flooding out into the hallway,’ Senator Lankford said
The Biden administration has not let reporters in the facility in Donna, Texas, but has let in lawmakers like Ted Cruz, who shared images such as the one above of children being held there
Rep. Ilhan Omar leads competing delegation
On Friday, Rep. Ilhan Omar led a competing delegation of Democrats to a holding facility in Carrizo Springs.
Omar, who first came to the US as a refugee from Somalia, said people coming to the US had no choice because of poor conditions in their home countries.
Omar said the former Trump administration believed ‘you had to create maximum pain in order for immigrants not to come to our border’ but the Biden White House is transitioning to a strategy of ‘maximum humanity and dignity.’
But Cruz and the other Republicans slammed conditions at the Donna facility as ‘inhumane’ and said the crisis would not end without stronger enforcement at the border and swift removal of those who cross illegally.
‘All of us today witnessed the Biden cages. What is occurring here on the border is heartbreaking, and it is a tragedy,’ Cruz said.
‘The Biden administration is taking people who are testing positive for COVID-19 and locking them in cages side by side. This is inhumane,’ Cruz said. ‘There was no six foot space, there was no three foot space, there wasn’t even a three inch space between children lined up one, after the other, after the other.’
Cruz said that 10 percent of the current population of the Donna facility currently tests positive for COVID-19.
‘It is wrong, and it is the direct consequence of policy decisions by the Biden administration to stop building the wall, to return to catch-and-release and to end the stay in Mexico policy.’
Cruz said that the Biden administration had rejected his request to allow press representatives to accompany the delegation in the Donna facility — and pointed out that both the Trump and Obama administrations had allowed such media access.
‘The Biden administration wants to hide what is going on here,’ Cruz said. ‘The American people have a right to know what is happening here.’
‘This is a man-made crisis. It was avoidable, it was preventable, and regardless of your party if you’re a Republican or a Democrat you should look at what is going on here and say enough is enough, this must stop,’ he added.
The White House has said media will be allowed facilities being run by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol but has not said when. A TV camera crew was allowed in a different facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, where children are being held in better conditions.
‘I will commit to transparency, and — as soon as I am in a position to be able to implement what we are doing right now,’ Biden said Thursday. Asked when that would be, he responded: ‘I don’t know, to be clear.’
‘It is wrong, and it is the direct consequence of policy decisions by the Biden administration to stop building the wall, to return to catch-and-release and to end the stay in Mexico policy,’ said Cruz on Friday
Cruz posted another pic from his tour; he’s blasted the Biden administration for its border policy, saying it’s led to a surge in migrants
Illegal border crossing is on pace to surpass recent records and could reach a 20 year high, officials said
Earlier, Cruz posted videos showing him on the bank of the Rio Grande in the dark, surrounded by tall grass or weeds, watching what he claims were smugglers trying to get migrants across the water and into the U.S.
The 19 Republican Senators on Tour
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla.
Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss.
Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.
‘That’s Mexico right over there, and you can see there are three smugglers right there,’ Cruz is heard saying in the video, ‘standing on the Mexico side looking at us.’
He also said those smugglers were taunting the senators on the U.S. side. The footage is hard to see, showing grass and the dark river with a few flashes of light. Cruz said those were the smugglers’ flashlights.
He posted another dramatic video, describing it as ‘live footage from the banks of the Rio Grande,’ that showed him standing on the river’s edge, giving a report on what he and the Republicans saw on their midnight march.
‘So it’s past midnight and I’m standing on the shore of the Rio Grande, the water is right behind me down. I’m down on the Texas border along with 18 senators, we made the trip to see the crisis that is playing out,’ Cruz said as he stood in the weeds on the shoreline.
Dogs could be heard barking in the background as he spoke.
‘On the other side of the river is Mexico,’ Cruz noted. ‘The other side of the river we have been listening to and seeing cartel members, human traffickers right on the other side of the river, waving flashlights yelling and taunting Americans, taunting the Border Patrol, because they know that under the current policy the Biden administration, they can flood over here.’
Cruz was joined by fellow Texas Senator John Cornyn, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, Maine Senator Susan Collins, and others in his travels.
Cornyn posted a photo of the group of lawmakers after their tour, writing ‘Before we began our full day of touring critical areas around the southern border, the Senators I brought down to Texas wanted to thank the @CBPRGV midnight patrol for all the hard work they are doing to keep our nation safe amidst this crisis.’
And the Senate Republicans official Twitter account posted photos and an update from the expedition: ‘1:00AM on our southern border. 18 Senators are here with Border Patrol on their night shift. We saw the massive influx of migrant crossings. Countless women + children. We were heckled by cartels. This is a humanitarian crisis. And Joe Biden needs to address it immediately.’
Beto O’Rourke, the former Democratic congressman who lives in El Paso and lost his bid to unseat Cruz, retweeted it with a mocking reply: ‘THANK GOD YOU SURVIVED THE HECKLING!’
Democrats, who have blamed the Trump administration for problems at the border, blasted the trip as a ‘political stunt.’
‘In a desperate attempt to mislead the country, world-renowned political clown Ted Cruz and his hapless sidekick John Cornyn are bringing their show on the road with their latest political stunt,’ the Democratic National Committee said in a statement on Friday.
‘If there’s one thing Ted Cruz knows how to do, it is to disingenuously grandstand for TV cameras. President Biden took more action to address immigration issues in one day than Senate Republicans have in the last four years. If Senator Cruz and his colleagues were serious, they’d be in Washington working with President Biden to be a part of the solution,’ said DNC spokesperson Eduardo Silva.