Representative Henry Cuellar (D., Texas) on Thursday shared footage of a massive line of women and children waiting to cross the Rio Grande river into the U.S., amid a burgeoning migrant influx at the southern border.
The footage, taken in March 2021, shows migrants being ferried across the Rio Grande in a small raft, rowed by a man in a ski mask. It was not immediately clear where on the river the footage was filmed.
We have to understand and address the “push” and “pull” factors that lead migrants to the U.S. pic.twitter.com/NpMx5WagFg
— Rep. Henry Cuellar (@RepCuellar) March 11, 2021
“We have to understand and address the ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors that lead migrants to the U.S.,” Cuellar wrote on Twitter in comments on the video.
The U.S. detained nearly 100,000 migrants attempting to cross the border illegally in February, sources told Reuters last week. The number of unaccompanied minors detained at Border Patrol facilities tripled over the past two weeks, as agents as well as the Department of Health and Human Services struggle to accommodate the influx.
The Biden administration is attempting to reverse several Trump-era restrictions, eliminating the “Remain in Mexico” policy and reinstating catch-and-release, whereby migrants are released into U.S. border towns to await further processing. Roberta Jacobson, special assistant to President Biden and administration coordinator at the southern border, acknowledged that messaging during the crisis was difficult.
“I will certainly agree that we are trying to walk and chew gum at the same time. We are trying to convey to everybody in the region that we will have legal processes for people in the future, and we’re standing those up as soon as we can,” Jacobson told reporters on Wednesday.
“But at the same time, you cannot come through irregular means,” Jacobson added. “It’s dangerous, and the majority of people will be sent out of the United States, because that is the truth of it.”
Cuellar is one of a number of border Democrats who have criticized the Biden administration for prioritizing the concerns of pro-immigration activists over the interests of their communities.
“It’s okay to listen to the immigration activists and advocates,” he said earlier this month in an interview with National Review. “But the other side of the formula is to listen to the border communities. And you’ve got to balance your approach, when you listen to both sides, and not just the immigrant activists, that many times live thousands of miles away from the border.”