House Judiciary Committee members latest from Congress to visit Rio Grande Valley

McALLEN — Two days before House Speaker Paul Ryan visited the Rio Grande Valley for a fundraiser last week, a congressional delegation toured the region.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee, including Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.; Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas; Steve Chabot, R-Ohio and Steve King, R-Iowa, met with various area officials, toured different facilities and got input about the enforcement of immigration law.

“Members of the House Judiciary Committee had a very informative and productive visit to the Rio Grande Valley Sector of the U.S.-Mexico border,” Goodlatte, chairman of the committee, said in a statement. “I want to commend all of our federal officials on the ground at our southwest border who are working together to secure our border, enforce our immigration laws, and combat human and drug smuggling.

“The Trump Administration’s efforts to enforce our immigration laws have been met with success but Congress must do more to ensure that unlawful immigrants can be safely returned to their home country and not be released into the interior of our country.”

The group was briefed at the McAllen Border Patrol station and met with RGV Sector Chief Manuel Padilla. They also toured the Rio Grande by boat and the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge before continuing on to San Diego, California.

Members of Congress often visit the Valley, typically as part of a delegation, though Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, usually comes alone, oftentimes a couple visits per year. He has made three Valley visits so far this year.

The other Texas Republican, Sen. John Cornyn, has often brought non-Texas colleagues to the border. In February, Cornyn brought Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., along with Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C., as well as a couple Texas members, Reps. John Carter, R-Round Rock, and Mike Conaway, R-Midland. Cornyn has made one other trip to the region so far this year, in April.

“With President Trump, who’s said some pretty dramatic things about our relationship with Mexico, and trade and security,” Cornyn said during the February visit, “it’s important for everybody to have their eyes wide open and be well informed, so that’s been my goal in having my colleagues come join me here.”

Groups often visit a border crossing, the Rio Grande and meet with Border Patrol agents, among other stops.

“When you come and have the opportunity to tour like we have, the first thing that stands out to me is the complexity,” Rouzer said during the visit. “The nature of border security is far more complex than people give it credit for.”

“It really helps to see it first hand,” Rouzer added later. “It’s one thing to read about the issue, it’s certainly a very different opportunity when you get to see it. We just came from a stash house, for example, and a detention facility earlier. It really gives you a much broader and better feel for what is actually taking place on the ground.”