Senator, thank you so much. I look forward (to) working with you. I appreciate all the good work you have always done on immigration reform and I really appreciate it and I look forward to working with you and going down to the district, also.

We have just had a phone call. I have always told the administration, look, I am a Democrat, it is a Democrat Administration and I have been very respectful about the administration. All I said was, look, you don’t have to listen to me. I want you to listen to the border communities. I want you to listen to the men and women of DHS, their families. This weekend I just spent about three hours with agents and their families and their chiefs, and especially their families and they don’t need pats on the back. They need help down there, on the border.

Today we had a phone call and I want to thank the senator and his staff for being there. I want people to hear from my local communities. So, we had folks from Hidalgo County, which is where the epicenter is. We had the county judge, county commissioners, mayors, police chiefs and other folks there. We sent to Starr County. Same thing. County judge, commissioners, city mayors, sheriffs. Zapata and, of course, Laredo. You heard Webb County and the mayor is very passionate. Mayor Saenz, and Chief Landin and other folks. 

So, I want people to hear from the local communities. And again, these are mainly South Texas Hispanic, Democratic elected officials say, we need a pause and we need some help down here at the border. We are very compassionate. We understand, most of us come from families from Mexico. My father was born in Mexico, Guerrero, Tamaulipas, became a legal resident, became a naturalized citizen. They followed procedures. What they see is an underground attention in many ways, in the Hispanic community, saying hold it. We followed this procedure, we followed these steps and we are seeing people just come in. I think you heard from folks that were saying, also, hey wee are concerned about this over-capacity. What is the end game here? You heard about how they are going to parks, so when families want to go out there, what do we (have) happen? You saw what happened in La Joya where they released people without even saying, and it was not Border Patrol it was a local NGO, not telling the folks in La Joya what was happening down there. And you hear about safety concerns. Roma, Texas, as you know, in Starr County, it is right at the border, it is part of my district, La Joya is part of my district. People cross and they are walking through the streets into neighborhoods and they are saying, hey people are just walking through. You heard from some of the school officials say, hey, what about our schools? There have been lock downs in schools because they are right at the border and people just start coming though and they are worried about their kids. 

I have always said this. You have heard me say this: you do not have to listen to me. They do not have to listen to me. The administration doesn’t need to listen. I have been very respectful, very supportive of the administration. But something has to change when it comes to border immigration issues. Again, we had the Border Patrol chiefs. We heard from Chief Ortiz. You heard about hospitals are overloaded. As Mayor Saenz said, hey, sometimes you have to pit an undocumented person that goes to a hospital with somebody that lives in Laredo. Or somewhere else. There are limited spaces. What do you do? It is not fair to pit an undocumented person to a U.S. citizen. We represent our residents and citizens here. 

I will close on this. I will let you (Sen. Graham) talk about the letter. We put a joint letter together. I thought it was important for the senator to hear directly from the communities and how they feel about this.

Editor’s Note: The above commentary was made by U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, Texas, at a news conference held in Washington, D.C., on Friday, July 30, 2021. Cuellar spoke at the news conference alongside U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina. The two had earlier held a conference call with community leaders from Congressman Cuellar’s district. The conference call focused on asylum-seeking migrants being released into border communities by the Department of Homeland Security.

Editor’s Note: Click here to read the remarks of Sen. Graham.

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