Dem Rep. Escobar: There’s a ‘Refugee Crisis of Historic Proportions’

Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, said Thursday on CNN’s “At This Hour” that the surge of migrants at the southern border is a “Western Hemispheric refugee crisis of historic proportions.”

Escobar called on the Biden administration to get the State Department to assist.

Anchor Amara Walker said, “In terms of your party, right, I’m sorry to cut you off. We’re running out of time. How do you feel about how the Biden administration has been handling the surge? Is there a comprehensive policy, a strategy? Where do the Democrats stand? Are you united on this?”

Escobar said, “Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas has been doing absolutely everything he possibly can. He’s been really a key leader on this, on helping communities like El Paso. But, you know, again, it is going to take legislation, and it’s going to take a multifaceted approach.

“The Biden administration, I think, needs to really also mobilize the State Department in the same way that the Department of Homeland Security has been mobilized. This is a Western Hemispheric refugee crisis of historic proportions. There needs to be far more diplomacy and the State Department involvement in addressing what is not going to get better any time soon.”

In mid-December, MSNBC’s José Díaz-Balart went to El Paso, Texas, and spoke with Escobar. She called for “direct engagement” from the White House.

Díaz-Balart said he saw a lack of “urgency” from the federal government on the evolving humanitarian crisis.

Díaz-Balart said, “Washington needs to deal with immigration, and they haven’t since 1986. That was the last comprehensive immigration reform that passed in this country … I just don’t see — and maybe I’m wrong — I don’t see the urgency.”

He said, “I see the urgency of the NGOs [nongovernmental organizations. I see the Red Cross; the plane that brought me here was filled with Red Cross volunteers. I see local officials here. I see National Guard. I just don’t see urgency by the federal government.

“Am I wrong? Where’s FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency]? Where are the organizations? Where are the people just knowing that these are men, women and children who are asking for asylum, the legal right to ask for asylum?” he asked.

Escobar praised FEMA and Mayorkas for their assistance but called for legislative action. She pointed to “mostly Republicans” for stalling bipartisan reform.

“I think absolutely the president should be here, and I think everyone should be here. But more importantly than the president actually being here, I want Congress to act,” Escobar said. “I would like the State Department to be even more robustly engaged on this Western Hemispheric issue, because this is going to take a lot of work. It’s going to take legislation.”

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection webpage, in September, its most updated stats, there were 272,338 nationwide encounters. There still remain no updates for October or November, which have been highlighted by Republicans several times in reference to Mayorkas’ ability to handle the situation at the southern border.

The nearly 300,000 encounters mark a high in the three years CBP has reported. The year prior —2021 — saw an almost 60,000 difference at 213,622 nationwide encounters. The encounters in this data only represent the southern border, not Canada.

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