Laredo, Texas, mayor calls immigration crisis an “American problem”: “We need to do better as a country”
Washington — The mayor of Laredo, Texas, said Congress’ failure to pass immigration reform has contributed to the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border in response to 2024 presidential candidates who have called for shutting down the border.
“This is not a Democratic or a Republican problem. It’s an American problem,” Laredo Mayor Victor Treviño told “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “And things should have been done a long time ago. Immigration reform is long overdue and what we’re seeing now is a result of that. As Americans, we need to do better as a country.”
Treviño said there’s a disconnect between conversations happening in Washington and what he’s seeing on the ground.
“They need to listen and come down here to see what the actual situation is,” he said. “Unless they get the real-time information and the real perception of what things are, then I think they can move on and make adequate rules.”
His comments come days after Title 42 — a pandemic-era emergency rule that allowed the Trump and Biden administrations to expel migrants without court hearings — ended. In the days leading up to the end of the policy, Customs and Border Protection apprehensions at the border hit all-time highs.
Treviño called the border crisis a historic challenge, but said his city has not been overwhelmed with migrants so far. But, he said, “we’re still at high alert.” The city received around 700 migrants on Saturday, he said, including overflow from El Paso and Brownsville.
“Until we see the numbers at the Border Patrol custody centers go down, this is when we can say the episodes have passed,” he said.
Another border city leader, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser, told “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the federal government is providing needed resources to handle the increase. He noted the Red Cross has helped local aid groups that are overburdened.
“We all know the immigration process is broken,” he said. “There’s no ifs and buts about it. But we are getting the resources that we need, because our city and the southern border couldn’t do it without federal aid.”
Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas, whose district includes 300 miles of the U.S-Mexico border, said he saw during a visit to El Paso on Friday that the holding facilities are overcrowded.
“Everyone is saying it’s not that bad,” he told “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “We can’t allow ‘not that bad’ to be the normal. Just this week there was a child that died in [Health and Human Services] custody.”
A 17-year-old migrant child from Honduras died in custody in Florida last week, according to officials, the second such death in two months. Few details have been provided about the circumstances.
Gonzales said the focus should be on legal immigration and he urged the Biden administration to increase the number of immigration judges so that cases can be heard within days instead of years.
“You’ve got [House Speaker] Kevin McCarthy on one side that is demonizing those that come over illegally. You’ve got [Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer on the other side in the Senate that makes it a morally good thing to help people that are coming over illegally — who gets hurt in this, is people that have legal claims,” he said. “Immigration reform gets further and further behind when we only focus on the illegal part.”