EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The day after President Joe Biden visited El Paso, U.S. Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Arizona, came to El Paso to visit the border with a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues.
“I’ve never seen the border in this bad of shape,” Cornyn said.
The senators took part in a roundtable discussion at Basset Middle School in Northeast El Paso which has been converted into an emergency migrant shelter.
According to the City of El Paso, there were less than 20 migrants staying at the school during the senators’ visit.
Cornyn said it’s the senators’ responsibility and job to try and address the situation.
“My hope is that President Biden’s visit to the border yesterday represents a change in approach and a recognition that we have to work on this together, so I can’t predict either what the timetable will be, but I know we have no alternative but to address this,” Cornyn said.
The roundtable at Bassett Middle School included leaders from the city and county governments along with the Catholic bishop, the director of a migrant shelter, the Texas Department of Public Safety and others.
Cornyn was asked following the roundtable about the Texas Department of Public Safety’s involvement along the border in El Paso.
“If you have a 1,200 mile border with Mexico and the federal government is not doing its job, then it’s up to the state leadership and up to the law enforcement and the National Guard to do what it can and that’s what Gov. Abbott has done,” Cornyn said.
The director of Annunciation House voiced his concerns over undocumented migrants in our community to the senators, telling them his organization is currently operating two hotels that have 300 unprocessed migrants.
“I’m saying this in front of the Texas Department of Public Safety right here, asking myself am I now putting ourselves at risk that we’re going to come and get arrested,” said Ruben Garcia, the director of Annunciation House.
Sinema spoke about El Paso’s need for more assistance.
“The federal government’s failure to address this issue over the last 40-plus years needs to stop now,” she said. “Because as great of a job as the folks of El Paso are doing at the city, at the county, at the nonprofit and at the federal level, as hard of work that they are doing to try and manage this crisis, the fact remains that it is indeed a crisis.”
El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser gave binders to each senator filled with photos he says he took of the migrants in the community over the past few months. Leeser added that he gave President Biden a copy of the binder during his visit on Sunday.
“Right now, everything we do is a Band-Aid, and we do need to fix it, and like I said, you heard from all of us, we all had a different opinion but we all came to the same conclusion, including every one of you, we all need to treat people with respect and in a humane manner,” Leeser said.