Congresswomen Veronica Escobar (TX-16) and Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02) led three other House Democrats on a tour around El Paso and Sunland Park, NM on Saturday where they learned about living along the Southern border.
Members of the delegation included Reps. Deb Haaland (NM-01), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05) and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05).
During the tour, members from Congress met with immigration advocates and received a briefing on border security from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
This comes four days after President Trump said El Paso used to be one of the most dangerous cities prior to the construction of the border fence currently in place.
“It’s frustrating to know that we are being painted as a dangerous place meant to be controlled,” Escobar said.
Representatives said in order to come together with a bipartisan solution to border security, people need to see the border and the surrounding communities for themselves.
“We know that we need an agency that will continuosly adapt to changing threats and circumstances and that’s why you have to look at the border on a mile-by-mile basis,” Torres Small said.
Delegates said CBP briefed them on current border security, saying CBP agents showed them what the borders need for better security, including more detection technology at the ports of entry, more agents and more immigration judges.
“One of the things they said, that unfortunately our president has not made clear enough, is that it is a mix of policies that will make our communities safe and our borders secure,” Hoyer said.
For those representatives who had never been to the Southern border, it was a way to gain knowledge of it to better explain to their constituents.
“With all the debate about what we are doing about border security, it was important to me to come here and see how very different it is from the Northern border where I grew up,” Scanlon said.
Rep. Haaland said she felt safe during her entire visit, saying that, while some criminals may try to get through the Southern border, there are also many families. She added that she learned the communites of the Borderland are not violent.
“I want America to take a step back and realize that political rhetoric is political rhetoric, but the truth and the facts are also here and that’s what we should be conveying to the American people,” Haaland said.