Two separate groups of lawmakers are traveling to Texas on Friday to spotlight the surge of unaccompanied children crossing the US-Mexico border in recent weeks.
Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas are leading a delegation of 17 Republican senators on Friday to tour a US Customs and Border Protection facility in Donna, Texas, that is reportedly overwhelmed with the number of unaccompanied minors.
Meanwhile, Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas is leading a group of six Democratic House members to a Health and Human Services facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas.
This facility — and other shelters overseen by HHS — are equipped to provide medical services, sleeping quarters and other support while case managers work with children to unite them with sponsors, like parents or relatives, in the United States.
But amid Covid-19 constraints, there hasn’t been enough shelter space to house the growing number of arrivals, resulting in children staying in Border Patrol facilities for prolonged periods beyond the legal limit, which is why lawmakers are getting involved and sharing their concerns about these facilities.
The Biden administration has yet to let news cameras inside Customs and Border Protection facilities where children have been detained, on average, for longer than the 72 hours allowed under law, though CBP released government footage of one of those facilities earlier this week.
Both sets of lawmakers making the trek to these facilities on Friday plan to have news conferences after they tour the facilities. The press is not permitted to be with them during their tours.
President Joe Biden said during his news conference on Thursday that plans are underway to provide journalists access to border facilities, but didn’t give a timeline for when that would happen.
“I will commit to transparency and as soon as I’m in a position to be able to implement what we’re doing right now,” Biden said Thursday, when pressed on whether journalists would be provided access to facilities where children have staying in crowded conditions. “This is being set up and you’ll have full access to everything once we get this thing moving.”
CNN, among other media outlets, has repeatedly asked for access to Customs and Border Protection facilities and Health and Human Services facilities.