Sobering video shows some 750 migrants packed into a Border Patrol processing center in El Paso, Texas – more than six times the facility’s regular capacity.
US Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) shared the footage of the crowd of mostly men standing amid makeshift beds in the 120-person room Friday.
He said the Central Processing Center handled about 6,000 migrants that day despite its maximum capacity of 1,000.
During a press conference about the crisis after the end of the pandemic-era Title 42, the congressman called it an “astronomical number.”
“A cell that is supposed to hold 90 people was holding 400 to 500,” he said, KFOX reported. “These are not good conditions.”
Under Title 42, migrants could be more easily and quickly booted from the US.
Gonzales said President Biden must send immigration judges to El Paso to handle asylum cases so migrants don’t have to wait years to appear in court.
“Those who legitimately qualify for asylum should have their case heard,” he said. “And if you don’t qualify for asylum they should be sent back to their countries.”
Gonzales said he received a call from Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, who told him he was unable to reach anyone in Washington, so he connected the leader with federal officials.
The pol assailed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“His job is to communicate with heads of state and build relationships. As a member of Congress I shouldn’t have to be taken a call from the head of a foreign state, and then connecting him with someone from the administration,” Gonzales said.
He said Giammattei later informed him that an agreement was reached in which the US would be sending migrants back to Guatemala by plane.
Gonzales also said a migrant child from Honduras died in Florida while in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.
“This only the second time in history where we’ve had a child die in custody,” Gonzales told reporters. “What about the secretary of HHS? A child died in HHS custody. Someone needs to answer for this.”
Meanwhile, a busload of migrants from Texas was unloaded Sunday at the Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, where Vice President Kamala Harris’s home is located.
An ABC local news station tweeted videos of migrants getting off the bus and grabbing their belongings from the cargo area underneath.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also sent a bus full of immigrants to the veep’s home on Christmas in 2022. Migrants also were bused to the Naval Observatory in September and October.
On Saturday, Border Patrol agents also found 54 asylum-seekers “living in deplorable conditions” at a stash house near El Paso – six of whom faced “prior removal orders” and will be prosecuted, El Paso Sector Chief Anthony Good said.
Immigration advocates have described the dire situation as a crisis, with many migrants living in trash-strewn encampments along the US-Mexico border.
Although the expiration of Title 42 has not yet resulted in the high-volume rush that was previously predicted, much of the blame for the chaos along the border has been placed on the Biden administration.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has defended the administration, saying the US has spent the past 18 months expanding border-patrol stations and providing law enforcement and communities with the resources to handle the influx of migrants.
Border Patrol agents encountered about 6,300 migrants at the border Friday and another 4,200 Saturday, he told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
Earlier in the week, that daily figure was upwards of 10,000, he said.
Mayorkas noted that in the two days since Title 42 expired, officials had seen a “50% drop” from the record number of border encounters in the earlier part of last week.
“We have communicated very clearly a vitally important message to the individuals that are thinking of arriving at our southern border: There is a lawful, safe and orderly way to arrive in the United States that is through the pathways that President Biden has expanded in an unprecedented way,” he said.
“And then, there’s a consequence if one does not use those lawful pathways,” Mayorkas added.
The White House has tweaked the rules to try to curb the expected chaos, including making asylum-seekers who say they fear for their lives in their home country to first try to get help from the country they traveled through to get to the US.