US House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Growth Equity holds hearing in South Texas
MISSION, Texas (Border Report) — After participating in a congressional hearing held Friday at the southern Texas border regarding economic growth and development in the region, a few Republican members of the special committee toured the Rio Grande and carried their attention to border security.
Four members of the United States House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Growth Equity boarded heavily armed boats operated by the Texas Department of Public Safety that were launched from Anzalduas Park in early afternoon. They explored the banks of the Rio Grande overlooking the cartel-infested Mexican border town of Reynosa for more than an hour before holding a press conference in which they proclaimed the need to secure US borders to ensure economic prosperity.
Despite the impetus given to the border visit to focus on the region’s economic disparities, develop better infrastructure, internet services and roads for cross-border trade, several lawmakers repeatedly tweeted on social media at the subject of border security on Friday before even receiving the boat. round.
Before they left, GOP committee member Bryan Steil from Wisconsin told Border Report that border security was directly tied to economic outcomes.
“We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” Steil said. “It’s all connected. When a community is unable to use resources to meet the challenges it faces on any given day and instead is forced to use those resources to deal with an insecure border that hurts everyone world, including the least of us.
Steil said during the morning congressional hearing that the bipartisan committee heard from a resident and local leaders about the costs associated with thousands of immigrants crossing the border illegally.
Thursday night and into the early hours of Friday morning, GOP members also accompanied law enforcement and visited areas where migrants are smuggled into the country, Border Report said.
“What we’ve seen firsthand here in South Texas is a need in the community to secure our border. There are many challenges in cities across the United States and we’ve seen some of those challenges here in South Texas, but I think we can free up a lot of funding if we finally secure our border.
Their visit took place on the same day and at the same time that Texas Governor Greg Abbott visited the area and held a border briefing at the Anzalduas International Bridge, a mile away.
Abbott was in town to receive an update on the border from DPS officials in Weslaco, Texas, the same city where House lawmakers held a roundtable and then a congressional hearing earlier Friday.
Republican lawmakers are the minority group on the economics committee, and staff officials told Border Report lawmakers want to get a first-hand view of Abbott’s Lone Star operation.
For more than a year, DPS soldiers, boats, and members of the Texas National Guard have been dispatched to the Rio Grande Valley and along the Texas-Mexico border to bolster security at a when Abbott repeatedly said the Biden administration was failing to secure the border.
Migrant encounter numbers released this week by U.S. Customs and Border Protection show the highest one-month totals for the southwest border on record.
Nationwide, there was a 4% increase from April, with law enforcement making 273,308 encounters with migrants in May, according to CBP.
But that doesn’t shatter the number of getaways – those not met – or migrants who have tried to cross the border from Mexico multiple times. And GOP lawmakers noted Friday that they believe more needs to be done to stop that trend.
“The state of Texas spends about $2 billion a year on border security and we should be using federal dollars instead,” Steil said. “What’s so important is that we see the impact that an insecure border has not only here in South Texas, but across the country, from fentanyl to human trafficking, the list is long.”
The special committee was formed a year ago by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and has hosted on-the-ground events in Ohio, San Francisco and Wisconsin, but this was its first trip to the Rio Grande Valley.
Before the boat ride, Steil told a Florida lawmaker, “It’s a lot worse here than you expected.”