U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud returned Friday from a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border, which included a visit to a facility for unaccompanied immigrant girls in Driscoll, outside Corpus Christi.
Cloud, a Victoria Republican, said he organized the trip as a fact-finding opportunity to learn more about the increase in migrants and asylum seekers currently trying to enter the country at border checkpoints. Two of Cloud’s Republican colleagues from the House, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia and U.S. Rep Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin joined him on the trip.
Cloud visited an emergency shelter Friday in Driscoll, which has room for about 206 girls who crossed the border unaccompanied by a parent or guardian.
“It’s really a heartbreaking situation, because approximately 40% of the young ladies ... who come have been abused along the trip,” Cloud said about the girls in the facility, citing data provided to him by the facility.
“One of the rooms we went by, one of the girls had a sign that said, ‘I miss Mom,’ and it was hanging on the wall there,” Cloud said.
The facility is run by a network called BCFS, according to the facility’s registry with Texas Health and Human Services. Unlike facilities and detention centers along the border, the facility in Driscoll was not overcrowded when Cloud visited, he said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection detained more than 109,000 people at the southwestern border in April, the highest total since 2007. The increase seen in April and the months before it are still lower than a peak in 2000, when 856,000 people were apprehended at the southern border in a six-month time frame.
The influx of migrants has caused massive overcrowding at detention facilities. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General released a report Friday found that a processing center in El Paso had six times more people than it was meant to hold during two days in May. The facility, which has room for 125 people, had 750 and 900 detainees May 7 and 8 respectively, according to the report.
Cloud started the trip in McAllen on Wednesday night and spent Thursday at various stops in the Rio Grande Valley.
The group visited the Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias, about 70 miles north of the border, as well as the port of entry in Laredo and made a nighttime trip along the shore of the Rio Grande River.
“I wanted to go there and just get an update of what’s going on, but really it was an opportunity to dig down deeper,” he said. “The No. 1 thing you take away is this is not an issue that’s going to be solved with a silver bullet.”
Cloud has supported President Donald Trump’s plans for a barrier or wall along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border and has advocated for more resources for Border Patrol outposts in the Rio Grande Valley. In a letter to the president, Cloud also called for raising the fee for asylum applications and limiting the number of migrants granted authorization to work in the U.S., among other policies.
“We don’t have enough beds, we don’t have enough agents, we don’t have enough resources,” he said.
Cloud represents Texas’ 27th District, which covers all or some of 13 counties in South Texas, including most of the Crossroads.