FALFURRIAS, Texas — Ask and you shall receive.
At least that’s what U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo sectors are hoping for by meeting with Republican lawmakers touring the border for the next couple of days.
It’s the first-time congressmen Jody Hice, R-GA, and Glenn Grothmann, R-WI, are visiting the South Texas border. They were invited by Congressman Michael Cloud, R-Texas, who hopes this visit will give his colleagues more than just bragging rights.
“One of the things that I recognized when I got to Washington in July is how much people didn’t know about the border,” said Cloud. “Being able to come here and hear from the boots on the ground, what’s going on, I think makes a lot of difference and helps us have informed policy.”
One of the first stops was at the new-and-improved vehicle checkpoint station in Falfurrias located about 80 miles north of the border with Mexico.
“We’re the busiest checkpoint in the nation right now as far as vehicle traffic, alien smuggling cases and, of course, the apprehensions that we get,” said Border Patrol Agent-In-Charge Thomas Slowinski.
Slowinski believes visits by lawmakers can help bring more resources to agents on the border.
“[We’re] averaging 10, 12, 15,000 vehicles a day,” he said. “All this higher capacity and technology helps us inspect that traffic at a greater pace.”
Checking cars and trucks for cargo is only one part of the challenge for agents today. There’s a continuing humanitarian crisis with thousands of undocumented migrant families crossing the border each day.
“One of the things that stuck up to me from our border agents today is 50% of them are tied up right now in processing individuals coming across who are being apprehended,” noted Hice.
“We need more people to help out the border patrol down here,” added Grothman. “We cannot expect them to process over 100,000 people a month with the number of people they have. And I certainly intend to make that clear to my colleagues back in Washington.”
The congressmen headed to Laredo as part of the second leg of their border tour. They’re scheduled to visit the busiest land port in the country to meet with the local border patrol union, as well as with community ranchers.