Republican Senator Joni Ernst said the humanitarian crisis at the border is "real," but that migrants are being well cared for in U.S. facilities despite prior media reports to the contrary.
Ernst stated U.S. Customs and Border Protection is currently overwhelmed; facilities are at maximum capacity, and more temporary facilities are needed to help process and house the continued influx of migrants. Ernst stated one facility costs $20 million per month to operate, and officers are taking money out of their own pockets to purchase food and hygiene products for migrants.
“After visiting the border and seeing what a full day of operations looks like … I can say that open borders is not the answer,” said Ernst. “A secure border and a willingness to actually fix and close these loopholes is. It’s time we work to get on permanent solutions."
When asked about the conditions of the facilities, Ernst provided information that conflicts with other reports of starvation, lack of clean water and unsanitary conditions. According to Ernst, migrants are receiving three hot meals a day, with some meals coming from local restaurants in the surrounding areas. Further, Ernst claims migrants have juice boxes and peanut butter crackers available upon request.
Additionally, Ernst stated she spoke with multiple migrant families at a facility in Hidalgo, Texas. According to Ernst, most of the families and individuals she spoke with are not seeking asylum but crossing the border into the United States for better opportunities. Ernst claims families are only held 24 to 48 hours before they begin the immigration process.
“The migrant families we talked to didn’t seem to be suffering any discomfort or anything like that,” said Ernst. “They were happy to visit with us and explain … they weren’t being oppressed, but wanted better opportunities and for economic reasons.”
Ernst stated the $4.6 billion dollar supplemental funding package recently passed by congress has helped The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Human Services provide care to migrants.
“Providing care to migrants is non-negotiable, but so is securing our border and permanently fixing the loopholes and systemic issues that exist in our current immigration system,” said Ernst.
When asked if anything would be done about the crisis at the border before the election, Ernst stated congress has been working on a number of provisions. Specifically, Ernst mentioned Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham is developing a proposal that would close loopholes in the current asylum system.
“We would love for Democrats to come to the table and visit with us, but so far, what we’ve put on the table, they’re not even willing to discuss. I would like to see a solution right away, and of course before the election,” said Ernst.