‘I’ve Never Seen It That Bad’: Texas Congressman Describes Conditions at Overcrowded Border Processing Center

‘I’ve Never Seen It That Bad’: Texas Congressman Describes Conditions at Overcrowded Border Processing Center
U.S. military prevent people from crossing illegally into El Paso, Texas, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)
Samantha Flom

Rep. Tony Gonzalez (R-Texas) on Dec. 21 said that the conditions at a processing facility on the U.S.-Mexico border were the worse he’s ever seen it.

Gonzalez, in an interview with Fox News, made the remark while discussing a video he filmed at a processing center in El Paso, Texas, last week.

“I’d been to that processing center many times, but I’ve never seen it that bad,” he added, noting that the “absolutely horrible” conditions had not improved in the five days since he took the video.

“I got an update last night,” the congressman advised. “There’s still over 4,000 migrants in that center, that processing center, which is 400 percent past capacity. And here you have the administration saying, ‘We need to do away with Title 42.’”

Describing the scene in El Paso, Gonzalez said that National Guard members have put up razor wire fence along the border.

“It’s out of a movie,“ he said. ”It’s out of an apocalyptic time”

Title 42

Title 42, invoked in March 2020, allows U.S. border patrol officials to quickly expel asylum-seekers from countries with high infection rates of COVID-19.
For months, the Biden administration has sought to terminate the Trump-era policy, holding that it is no longer necessary given the overall improvement in the nation’s public health situation. However, those efforts have been blocked by legal challenges.

On Monday, the Supreme Court granted a temporary stay on the expiration of the policy, which a lower court had ordered to occur by Dec. 21, while the court decided on an emergency request from 19 Republican-led states to reverse the lower court’s ruling.

In its Tuesday response to those states’ request, the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to delay the expiration of Title 42 until after Christmas, due to reduced staffing over the holiday and other operational issues.
While also acknowledging that the termination of the Title 42 policy would likely result in disruption and a “temporary” increase in illegal border crossings, the administration argued that the solution to that problem should be through Title 8 immigration law rather than the indefinite extension of “a public-health measure that all now acknowledge has outlived its public-health justification.”
Meanwhile, proponents of Title 42 hold that the policy’s termination would create an untenable situation for those states that are already overwhelmed by the dramatic increase in illegal immigrants crossing the border.
“Getting rid of Title 42 will recklessly and needlessly endanger more Americans and migrants by exacerbating the catastrophe that is occurring at our southern border,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich noted on Monday.
Congressman Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) spoke at the Bipartisan meeting about border patrol suicide rates at the House Triangle in Washington on Dec. 7, 2022. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Congressman Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) spoke at the Bipartisan meeting about border patrol suicide rates at the House Triangle in Washington on Dec. 7, 2022. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

According to Gonzalez, the surge of illegal immigrants at the border has inundated the city of El Paso, in particular, to the point where individuals are now being housed in buildings provided by the local school district as well as at the El Paso Convention Center.

“There’s talk of using Fort Bliss,” the congressman added, “which is the Army base there in El Paso.”

Gonzalez said that the Biden administration’s plan is to erect temporary tents along the border to increase holding capacity while they create a new expedited removal process apart from Title 42.

“What that means is, ideally, people that do not qualify for asylum get removed,” Gonzalez said. “But I worry that they’re only going to increase capacity and then just release more people into El Paso and throughout the country.”

And Republicans are not the only people with such concerns.

Bipartisan Fears Escalate

California’s Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom, for instance, told ABC News last week that he feared his state would not be able to handle the influx of illegal immigrants that an end to Title 42 would create.

“The fact is, what we’ve got right now is not working, and it’s about to break in a post-42 world unless we take some responsibility and ownership,” Newsom said. “I’m saying that as a Democrat. I’m not saying that to point fingers. I’m saying that as a father, I’m saying that as someone that feels responsible for being part of the solution, and I’m trying to do my best here.”

Additionally, describing the situation at the border as “unsecure” and a “humanitarian and security nightmare,” newly independent Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona warned Tuesday that Title 42’s expiration would only worsen the crisis and allow “thousands of migrants to enter Arizona, Texas, and other border states without the proper procedures, plans, or infrastructures in place.”
In the hopes of raising awareness of the predicament among her colleagues, Sinema has announced plans to lead a group of her fellow senators on a bipartisan trip to the border following their return to Congress in January.
Further addressing the subject in an interview with Fox News, the Arizona senator said she thought the president should survey the border, too.

“I absolutely think the president should visit the border,” she said. “In fact, I think anyone who is responsible for setting or making policy on the border should visit the border. I mean, that’s a no-brainer, right?”

While the White House has yet to announce any plans for a presidential border visit, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre contended Monday that the impending removal of Title 42 does not signal that the border is open.

“I want to be very clear here: The fact is that the removal of Title 42 does not mean the border is open,” Jean-Pierre said, holding that those who make such claims are “doing the work” of smugglers.

“When Title 42 goes away … we will go back to Title 8, which allows a process to make sure that people can make their asylum claims heard,” she added. “Those who do not have a legal basis to remain will be quickly removed.”

Despite taking heat from all sides, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has maintained that “the border is secure,” noting that preparations are underway for a post-Title 42 spike in illegal immigration.

“We are enhancing the consequences for unlawful entry, especially with respect to individuals who seek to evade law enforcement, including removal, detention, and criminal prosecution when warranted,” Mayorkas advised on Nov. 17.

Additional measures will include sending more resources, personnel, and technology to the border and increasing processing efficiency to mitigate potential overcrowding.

The Epoch Times has reached out to the White House and the Department of Homeland Security for comment.

Samantha Flom is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering U.S. politics and news. A graduate of Syracuse University, she has a background in journalism and nonprofit communications. Contact her at [email protected].
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