MIAMI – The firsthand look was brief but bracing.
South Florida’s newest members of Congress, Reps. Maria Salazar and Carlos Gimenez toured a processing site and met families at the United States’ southern border Monday, a tour with Republican leadership blaming President Joe Biden for a migrant surge.
“I spoke to a family that told me it took them 22 days to come from Honduras,” said Gimenez, R-District 26. “They were incentivized by the rhetoric, by the change of policy.”
Said Salazar, R-District 27: “It’s our girls — Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua — that are being raped. It’s our girls, the children that are being trafficked.”
🚨 I’m at the border 🚨— Rep. María Elvira Salazar (@RepMariaSalazar) March 15, 2021
We’re facing a Human Trafficking crisis! pic.twitter.com/wgv9OFoDss
Increasing numbers of people are overwhelming border facilities, made more challenging by the COVID-19 pandemic and perceptions that the Biden administration would be more welcoming than his predecessor.
“It’s a complicated problem, no doubt about it,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. “We are sending the message clearly in the region — now is not the time to come, but also we want to ensure people are treated with humanity.”
The administration dispatched FEMA over the weekend to help border agents with processing and caring for the migrants, especially children who arrive alone.
“The options here are, send the kids back on the journey, send them to unvetted homes, or work to expedite, moving them into shelters where they can get health treatment by medical doctors, educational resources, legal counseling,” Psaki said.