Carlos Gimenez says he saw ‘humanitarian crisis’ on trip to southern border

Carlos Gimenez, the congressman from South Florida, says President Joe Biden should see the conditions at the U.S. southern border himself, a trip the president says he's not planning as of yet.

MIAMI – A day after touring the U.S. southern border in Texas, Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-FL District 26 described what he saw as a “humanitarian crisis.”

Gimenez discussed touring a facility that housed hundreds of migrant children between the ages of 4 and 17.

“It really broke my heart to see those hundreds of kids,” he said in a news conference at Miami International Airport.

Gimenez, the former Miami-Dade County mayor, and fellow South Florida Congressmember Rep. Maria Salazar toured a processing site in Texas and met families as part of a tour Monday with Republican leadership blaming President Joe Biden’s administration for a migrant surge.

They say migrants believe they now have a better chance at asylum in the United States than they did under the previous administration and are therefore incentivized to cross the border.

“We feel it’s due to the change of policy of the Biden administration, and we call on the Biden administration to reverse that stance,” Gimenez said Tuesday.

South Florida Congressman Carlos Gimenez spoke about a "humanitarian crisis" he witnessed on a trip to the U.S. southern border with fellow Republican lawmakers.

Gimenez says the president should visit the border. On Tuesday, Biden told reporters he has no such plans.

Opponents blame the immediate crisis on his policy reversal, namely that migrants can now wait in the U.S., instead of outside, as their asylum claims go through courts.

“We need hundreds more judges to be able to expedite asylum the hearings of these migrants that are coming over, and frankly the old policy of keeping them in Mexico until they get these hearings is probably the best thing,” Gimenez said.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaky calls it “a complicated problem — no doubt about it.”

Most complicated is the young migrants coming alone, and the countless trafficked. The shelters that are their waystations — where they get health checks, schooling, and legal help with their cases — are at capacity. A Dallas convention center is now set to open as one, for up to 3,000 children.

As for the shuttered Homestead facility, which is in Gimenez’s congressional district, he said he has not heard any word of it reopening. But he said that with the opening of the Dallas convention center, he would not be surprised if the Homestead site is used again.

Gimenez said the group of lawmakers was also told Monday by those protecting the border that they need more Customs and Border Patrol agents and need certain portions of the border wall finished, in addition to better technology.

Gimenez, who was elected to Congress in November, added that he feels the United States needs to do a better job helping improve life in some Central American countries where people are incentivized to flee.

WATCH A REPLAY OF GIMENEZ’S FULL NEWS CONFERENCE:

After touring the U.S. southern border in Texas, Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-FL District 26, is holding a news conference Tuesday to speak about what he saw.

Posted by WPLG Local 10 on Tuesday, March 16, 2021

About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."