Washington – Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who spent a blistering hot day at the U.S.-Mexico border Friday touring facilities that hold adult and child migrants, said he witnessed “a continuing American humanitarian crisis.”

Blumenthal was part of a delegation of about a dozen Democratic senators led by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.  who toured several facilities in McAllen, Tex., to investigate the conditions there.

The Democrats blamed the GOP and the Trump administration for an immigration crisis that began after President Donald Trump implemented a “zero-tolerance” policy aimed at detaining all undocumented immigrants who try to enter the United States, even those who are trying to make asylum claims at border checkpoints.

That has resulted in crowded detention facilities and the separation of immigrant children from their parents since an agreement known as the “Flores settlement” forbids holding minors with adults for more than 20 days.

Blumenthal said Congress’ recent approval of “$4 billion-plus” would help federal immigration officials ease crowding at facilities.

“But what is needed is comprehensive immigration reform,” Blumenthal said.

Schumer said “it’s awful, awful, awful how these people are treated.”

At a press conference in McAllen, Schumer said the lawmakers saw ‘one good place,” a facility run by Catholic Charities, in which migrants were treated well.

Although there’s been recent efforts to ease crowding at other facilities, the conditions there are still deplorable, Schumer said.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said one child migrant said his family was forced to leave their home in  Central  America “because they were killing so many people there.”

While Democrats are likely to characterize the migrants trying to enter the United States as people who are fleeing violence and chaos in Central America, Trump and congressional Republicans say they are economic migrants looking for a better standard of living and that many are criminals.

They say the crisis at the border has been caused by Democrats who have opposed tough immigration policies and Trump’s plan to build a border wall.

Schumer said “only two or three percent” of the migrants have criminal records.

The situation does not seem to have any immediate solution.

Trump this week used his executive authority to change U.S. asylum law when it comes to Central Americans. Under the new Trump administration rules, migrants would have to apply for asylum, and be denied, in the nations they travel through before they could apply for asylum in the United States.

The American Civil Liberties Union and immigrant advocate organizations immediately filed lawsuits to try to block implementation of the new rules.

Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress plan to continue to hold hearings on the Trump administration immigration policies. At one of those hearings this week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.,  questioned Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan about the whereabouts of Border Patrol agents who threatened her in a  secret Facebook group that had current and former Border Patrol officers as its members.

Trips to detention facilities by Democratic members of Congress will also continue.

Although it was Blumenthal’s second trip to the U.S.-Mexico border since Trump assumed office, he said his latest visit has affected him.

“I think that what we’ve seen here is going to haunt us for some time to come,” Blumenthal said.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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8 Comments

  1. “’But what is needed is comprehensive immigration reform,’ Blumenthal said.”
    No fooling Mr Blumenthal! Now for how long has that been the topic of discussion with no one willing to consider compromises that could satisfy both sides of the ongoing argument.

    “Schumer said ‘it’s awful, awful, awful how these people are treated.’”
    Perhaps, from your perspective, it is awful. But to expect the migrants’ conditions to be comparable to a stay at Marriott or perhaps even your guest accommodations is unrealistic. I would submit that what they currently have is far better than what they left in spite of the chain-link fencing.

  2. Very frustrating that it takes forever for comments to appear with the article. Sometimes one wonders if they’re purposely being either withheld or left to the end of those being ‘moderated.’

    1. Hi CT_Yankee_1, your frustration is absolutely heard by us. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need comment moderation at all, but digital discourse is often far less civil than we are willing to allow. We do our best to approve comments as quickly as possible, but sometimes (especially on weekends) the limitations of our small staff does show a bit.

      All of that said, please keep commenting. Your opinion matters and is appreciated!

      1. I do understand and I can’t imagine the number of comments your crew has to review. It is particularly frustrating as a reader when posting alternate views on other comments when it takes oh so long to get posted.

      2. But how much is filtered to suit the narrative is the concerning issue. As I am sure you understand, those that control the narrative control the topic. So naturally commentators are concerned.

      3. Hi Honest, that is certainly a fair question. We don’t filter based on the content of the argument, but instead focus on moderating the composition, language and tone. If you present an idea WITH supporting evidence (be it personal anecdote, another news source, an academic study, etc.) and WITHOUT name-calling/partisan sniping, it will be approved every time. A quick glance at the comments below our stories will show that conservative, liberal and moderate viewpoints are all present on the site. That said, for a better sense of what we evaluate specifically when moderating comments, you can view our guidelines here: https://ctmirror.org/comments-policies/

  3. This situation is a crisis now because Congress has not done it’s job. Mr. Blumenthal is politicizing it and the Democrats are being duplicitous. I wonder how many readers are aware of Democrats using photos from the Obama era to attack the current White House. The AP ran this to explain:

    Photos show detention centers under Obama not Trump:

    https://www.apnews.com/afs:Content:5892330009

    Mr. Blumenthal should stop his nonsense and have his party who controls the U.S. House fix this and stop the blame game. The American people are sick of this charade and crisis that was created by Congress.

  4. This article tells of deplorable conditions at the border and it is now a crisis. Is it a crisis because the democrats have now decided that it is a crisis? Didn’t Blumenthal, Murphy and the rest of the house delegation claim that this was a manufactured crisis made up by the “Trump Regime?” When the border patrol asked for additional resources and help months ago, this was a manufactured crisis reported by many news outlets! Now it is a crisis because these same news outlets. Please tell us what changed?

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