U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz, an Indiana Republican from the 5th District, joined seven Democratic colleagues, including fellow members of the Immigration Subcommittee, the final weekend of March to visit the El Paso sector of the U.S.-Mexico border to see the issues firsthand.
The delegation visited the Paso del Norte Port of Entry, El Paso Border Patrol Central Processing Center and shelters for unaccompanied minors and families. The group also met with agents on the ground, immigration advocates and migrant children.
“I want to thank Rep. Veronica Escobar for organizing this (congressional delegation) and for inviting Republicans to participate because no one party is going to solve this crisis alone,” Spartz said during a press conference. “The American people want real, viable solutions from their elected leaders. People are exhausted. We need to become an institution that can deliver good policy. It has to be an institution that works for the people of the country and not have drama, demagoguery or grandstanding.”
Spartz said it’s important to hear all perspectives because they represent different parts of the U.S.
“What makes this the greatest country in the world that ever existed?” Spartz said. “What makes this the greatest country (is) because every person has the most freedom to succeed. People want to be here.”
Spartz, 42, immigrated to the U.S. from the Ukraine in 2000. Her husband, Jason Spartz, is an Indiana native. Spartz, a former state senator, became a U.S. citizen in 2006.
Spartz said she knows other nations have challenges.
“We can’t have open borders,” Spartz said. “We need to have a better immigration system.”
According to a release from Spartz’ office, the delegation saw more than 1,000 children at the central processing center, most of whom will stay there for several weeks despite the facility’s original intent and legal obligation to only house migrants for a matter of days. Drugs, weapons and other contraband also are being transported across the border while border patrol agents are overwhelmed by the flood of migrants, diverting authorities from performing their core duties.
Spartz said it breaks her heart to see the children crossing the border.
“It is absolutely clear that we have a real crisis at our southern border,” Spartz said. “There is no question about it. I talked to a tiny, 6-year-old girl devastated by being separated from her 8-year-old brother. These siblings were sent by their parents to cross our border by themselves and there are busloads of children with similar stories arriving every day.
“President Biden’s policies have encouraged this influx, weakened our border security and aided the drug cartels. President Biden needs to exercise leadership now and address the growing crisis at our border with an all-of-government approach.”
Spartz plans to return to the border in the near future to visit a different section with members of the House Judiciary Committee.