WASHINGTON – Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning, NY 23) says there is a crisis at the U.S. border and it’s now time for congress to come up with a plan and take action to fix it.
During his weekly conference call with media on Wednesday, Reed offered details of his July 19 tour of the U.S. border and holding facilities, which also involved several other members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.
Reed said his biggest takeaway from the tour is that U.S. border agents are stretched thin and exhausted, but are still doing all they can to deal with the ongoing influx of migrants and refugees who continue to come across the U.S. – Mexican border.
“Folks are standing there as border agents going, ‘What do we do? How do we handle this?’ That is where it is incumbent upon us, as Problem Solvers, to step forward, tell everybody to stand down on the rhetoric, stand down on the partisan exploitation of this crisis, and recognize this is a problem of the broken immigration system that needs to be fixed and I am confident that the Problem Solvers Caucus members are going to lead the way to a solution,” Reed said.
Reed also said he saw a scenario which drove home the immigration crisis for him, explaining that he saw that a man was attempting to go through customs with a six-month-old child. When border agents threatened a rapid DNA test to confirm the child’s relation to him and said he is risking kidnapping charges if it turned out there was no relation, the man admitted to “renting” the child from a smuggler because he was told it was the best way to get across.
“I can not live in a Utopic, idealistic world that does not recognize there are threats that are there at the border. I’ve seen the drugs. I’ve seen the weapons. I’ve seen the use of human beings in the most despicable way,” Reed said.
Reed didn’t get into specifics of what could be done to deal with the issue, only to say the group will begin meeting later this summer to come up with options.
Some officials have said the U.S. should focus more attention on providing humanitarian aid in the countries where many of the migrants are coming from, saying the current border crisis is the end result of years and even decades of failed U.S. foreign policy in those central American countries.
But Reed said that he doesn’t agree its the U.S.’s fault for what is currently happening, adding that the best way the U.S. can help those countries is by continuing to promote trade agreements that can help grow their economies and bring prosperity to more people living there.
“Those that want to blame America are free to do it but I am going to make an adamant disagreement with them and never apologize for America,” Reed said. “Can we do better in regards to partnerships? That’s why I like the Mexico-Canada deal for example. If we have trade opportunities that are blossoming – that’s why we have tools in the toolbox to help us fix this – where these economies can grow in their own backyard and they can have a way of life that improves, a culture that improves, and that you actually get a functioning government in place in some of these areas like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Yeah, I think that will help solve some of this problem.”
The Problem Solvers Caucus is a bipartisan group in Congress comprising 48 members – equally divided between Democrats and Republicans – who are committed to forging bipartisan cooperation on key issues. It is co-chaired by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Congressman Reed.