A small group of Democratic lawmakers is headed to the US-Mexico border this weekend to tour the area, meet with immigrant rights' advocates and be briefed by US Customs and Border Protection.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland will travel with a group of newly-elected congresswomen to Texas and New Mexico on Saturday.
The group so far includes Democratic Reps. Veronica Escobar of Texas, Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico, and Deb Haaland of New Mexico, who each represent districts near the southern border. Democratic Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania is also going on the trip.
"Despite the President's demagoguery over immigration, there is not a national emergency or a security crisis at the border that demands a wall," Hoyer said in a statement Thursday.
The trip comes as Congress has a February 15 deadline to agree on border security funding before another partial government shutdown goes into effect. A bipartisan, bicameral committee has been tasked with reaching an agreement that will be acceptable to President Donald Trump, who has demanded more than $5 billion for a wall along the border with Mexico.
"We face challenges at the border, and as negotiations over how to best secure the border continue, I feel it is important to travel there to meet directly with immigrant advocates about the humanitarian situation as well as receive a border security briefing," Hoyer said.
The House members will begin their visit with a morning meeting with local immigrant rights advocates, followed by a visit to a migrant shelter in El Paso, Texas.
The group plans to stop along the border at several points, including a port of entry and the location where Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, a 8-year-old Guatemalan child who died while in US Customs and Border Protection's custody, was apprehended. Felipe and his father was apprehended about 3 miles west of the Paso Del Norte port of entry in El Paso.
CBP officials will then brief the group on border security before the members end their trip with a news conference in Sunland Park, New Mexico.
Torres Small said in a statement provided to CNN that the "realities of life on the border are often misrepresented and politicized by those in Washington."
"I am excited to have the opportunity to show Leadership and other Members my home, the community I grew up in, and talk with them about the real challenges we face along the border, from our most rural stretches to our most urban centers," the congresswoman said Thursday.
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