(CNSNews.com) – During Wednesday’s House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the border crisis, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), ranking member of the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee, took issue with the title of the hearing and the Democrats’ use of an Obama-era photo of kids behind chain link barriers to promote the hearing.
The hearing, titled “Kids in Cages: Inhumane Treatment at the Border,” featured testimony from asylum seeker Yazmin Juárez as well as former acting ICE Director Ronald Vitiello, among others.
“Mr. Chairman, I have to say I am frustrated though with the title of the hearing. It’s setting a tone that doesn’t allow us to come together to address this difficult problem in a way that is befitting of the United States and our welcoming nature as a country. It is a hearing entitled, Kids in Cages. What we say, and the hyperbole we use matters,” Roy said in his opening statement.
He said that as a congressman from Texas and a former staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee, he’s been to the border “many times.”
“And to this day, I have never seen a kid in a cage the way those words seem to indicate it. Let’s look at the advertisements for this hearing. The slide on the right is the ad for this hearing, showing pictures of kids supposedly in cages,” he said.
“The picture on the left is the picture from 2014 when President Obama’s DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson was giving a tour of a facility where you’ve got, yes, chain link barriers put up in temporary facilities at that time under the Obama administration in a way to deal with a crisis at 2014,” Roy said.
He said that at that time the Obama administration was “trying to deal with the problem of massive numbers of people coming across the border oftentimes with parents that aren’t the parents claiming to be the parents of the child, which is horrific.”
At the time five years ago, there were “horrific stories” of “unaccompanied children riding on the top of train cars,” the congressman said.
“We had 104,000 people that CBP had to deal with in May. How do you deal with that? Under the most generous circumstances of trying to figure out what to do to care for these children, release them to family members, release them in a safe way, care for them, give them food, give them health care, how would we have them do it when we’re denying them the facilities and the resources to do it?” Roy asked.
“We should discuss the humanitarian crisis. We’re experiencing an unprecedented surge in migrants. You see the chart over here. I don’t have to go through it. The red line, you see the massive spike in apprehensions. The numbers in June were 94,987 – the highest June number recorded in at least the last five years. It was down from 144,000 in May. That often happens because of the heat in June,” he said.
Roy said that while touring CBP detention centers, he’s never seen a child in a cage in the way that that’s been depicted.
“I’ve personally seen that an overwhelming number of individuals fill our Border Patrol stations and stretch our Border Patrol workers to go above and beyond. We all agree that they’re stretched. There is no disagreement in this room on that, at least today. There might have been five months ago. I’ve seen the facilities, and I’ve not seen a single cage in the way that it is being depicted,” he said.
“I’m seeing ways to separate people and keep them safe, and we demean the process and our Border Patrol agents, who are law enforcement officers for the government of the United States trying to do their job, when we call them cages,” the congressman said.
Roy also noted that for months Democrats denied there was a real crisis on the border.
“It is not helpful to use this crisis that so many denied and called manufactured now to score political points. In this fiscal year, more than 694,000 have been apprehended whether they were claiming asylum or whether they were just straight coming illegally. On February 15th, the president declared a national emergency at the border to deal with the escalating crisis,” the congressman said.
“I even forced a few votes on the floor of the House of Representatives. How dare I force votes in the people’s house, and some of my colleagues joined. Why? Because for five months, we have listened to some of our colleagues say there is no crisis,” Roy said.
“Speaker Pelosi called the situation a fake crisis at the border. Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Engel called the situation a fake crisis at the border. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler: there is no crisis at the border. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, one of my colleagues on this committee: we don’t have a border crisis. Representative Doggett, a fellow Texan, called the situation a phony border crisis. Representative Sanford Bishop called it a crisis that does not exist. I could go on and on. There are dozens of examples, hundreds of examples,” he said.
“Instead of focusing on the magnets that will allow cartels to exploit women and children, some in this body would rather attack the men and women on the front lines of the crisis,” Roy said.
He said CBP has performed over 3,000 rescues this year, “including last month in Laredo where they rescued 14,000 migrants locked in a horse trailer” that was “124 degrees inside with no ventilation or exit.”
Roy said as an oversight committee, they should investigate reports of children in CBP custody going hungry even though acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan has said there’s no such evidence of it.