GOP Doctors Caucus members reflect on visit to Rio Grande border

Published 8:50 am Monday, July 8, 2019

Last week, I, along with Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), Neal Dunn, M.D. (R-Fla.), Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M. (R-Ohio), Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), and Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) visited the Rio Grande Valley Sector with senior medical officials from the Department of Homeland Security. The trip had a special emphasis on medical screenings for migrants who have crossed the border.
Every member of Congress needs to see the situation at our southern border with their own eyes. It is obvious there is a humanitarian crisis. It is also obvious that flawed immigration policies are at the heart of the problem. The money Congress provided last week is desperately needed and will do much good to continue improving the health care that migrants are receiving. However, it is apparent we need to change the laws because the wave of immigrants is not ceasing. I was glad to see first-hand how much time and effort is being put into providing health care to migrants. We have great DHS personnel addressing this humanitarian crisis at our southern border. I want to thank them for their hard work, and I will continue to support their mission to keep our country safe and secure.
Rep. Burgess, as both a physician and a Texan serving in Congress, agreed with my assessment “I am committed to providing oversight of federal agencies’ work on the southern border. Since 2014, I have traveled to the border 10 times, and the conditions we witnessed underscore the severity of this humanitarian and security crisis. As a result of this spring’s unprecedented surge of illegal migration, Customs and Border Protection facilities are handling caseloads far beyond their intended capacity — overwhelming all personnel and resources allocated for migrant care. It is important for members of Congress to witness this situation firsthand so that we can work together to pass meaningful solutions, and I am grateful that Dr. Roe and our fellow doctors serving in Congress have prioritized this important responsibility,” said Rep. Burgess.
Rep. Marshall said, “I leave the border more resolved than ever that we need to build a wall, secure our border and fix our broken immigration system. I also know that in the short term, we must continue to address the humanitarian crisis on the border. Doctors and nurses, as well as our agents, are doing their absolute best with the resources they have and conditions they are facing, but this situation is unsustainable. A porous border encourages many — like the migrant families we saw while there, who turned themselves in to American authorities for food and shelter — to make the dangerous journey, in often-deadly conditions or at risk of cartel trafficking. It’s not good for these families, or for our country. Congress must do the right thing,”
“After spending the day on the southern border in McAllen, Texas, I have an even greater appreciation for our Customs and Border Patrol agents,” said Rep. Dunn. “We saw thousands of refugees being treated with great dignity, in humane conditions. We watched as dozens of refugees emerged from the brush on the Banks of the Rio Grande. They gratefully presented themselves to our Customs and Border Patrol agents, knowing the hardest part of their journey is over, and they will be treated better than the conditions they’ve overcome. After crossing the border they are processed, receive a health evaluation, and treated with medical attention to address any ailments. There IS A CRISIS and our Customs and Border Patrol is responding heroically and with compassion. They deserve the full support of Congress in all their efforts, humanitarian, patrolling, and policing.”
Rep. Wenstrup in his assessment of the border situation, said, “It was important to see firsthand the unprecedented influx of asylum seekers at the southern border. During our visit to the Rio Grande Valley Sector, every refugee I saw, young and old, calmly approached border patrol and processed, which included health screening and care as needed. They appeared to be receiving sufficient health care and living conditions, to a standard with which we as Americans can be satisfied. We also had the opportunity to see how the federal government will use the additional resources Congress just allocated in the bipartisan emergency border relief funding bill, which passed with my support last week. This bill provides funds to address the many needs at the border, but it is not a replacement for fixing our broken immigration system or securing the border.”
Rep. Carter said, “President Trump is right, there is a security and humanitarian crisis at our border. That is why I traveled to the border again this week with fellow medical professionals in Congress to assess the current situation firsthand. We went to see the medical treatment provided for detainees. We saw that the children are receiving excellent health care and with few exceptions are receiving the best health care they’ve ever had. Throughout the day, I heard a resounding message from our personnel on the ground — they are overwhelmed and need more resources. We learned that apprehensions are skyrocketing, total illicit human smuggling revenue is up to $91,000,000 a week and the amounts of dangerous drugs like cocaine, meth and heroin crossing our border are increasing. It is disgusting that criminals are making millions of dollars a week off smuggling humans into our nation in terrible conditions. This trip again reconfirmed the need to secure our border and close immigration loopholes for the security of the United States as well as the wellbeing of those caught in the chaos at the border. Democrats need to either work with us and President Trump or get out of the way.”
Rep. Arrington after visiting the border said, “Seeing the border crisis first hand provokes mixed emotions. On one hand, your heart breaks for the families who have risked so much because they have such little hope left in their home country; and, on the other hand, it’s extremely disappointing that Democrats in Congress won’t work with us to fix the root causes. As long as we fail to secure our border and have policies that encourage people to come to our country illegally, we will continue to have this emergent situation, and we will continue to spend billions of dollars that could otherwise go to infrastructure, education, and healthcare for our own citizens. Finally, the border patrol agents are spending half their time providing humanitarian aid instead of the law enforcement job they were hired to do. They are making the most of a very bad situation.”

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