A Texas Democrat who has been critical of Biden administration policies at the U.S.-Mexico border lashed out this week, accusing the administration of posting misleading photos from a migrant processing facility.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar accused the Department of Homeland Security of trying to create the impression the facility in Donna, Texas, was emptying out, when in fact the migrant youths who had been located there were simply moved to a nearby location.
“All they’re doing is, they’re moving kids from one tent to the other tent and saying, ‘Oh, they’re not in the Border Patrol (custody),’” Cuellar said, according to Border Report.
“All they’re doing is, they’re moving kids from one tent to the other tent and saying, ‘Oh, they’re not in the Border Patrol (custody).’”
The youths were relocated to nearby tents operated by the Department of Health and Human Services, the congressman told the outlet.
“But they’re right next door,” Cuellar added about the migrants. “They’re just next door in HHS.”
Following an inquiry from Border Report, DHS officials confirmed the youths were in HHS custody but would not disclose the location, the outlet reported.
The images released by the Biden administration on Tuesday showed a nearly empty Donna facility, with just a few beds and a few youths – in contrast to March images that showed a large number of migrant youths packed into the same location.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the youths were now spending less time in the processing facilities than they had been earlier in the year.
“The amount of time children spend in CBP custody is down 75 percent, from 131 hours at the end of March to under 30 hours now,” Psaki said. CBP refers to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a unit of Homeland Security that is among several U.S. agencies dealing with matters along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Cuellar is vice chairman of the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee. He has visited the facility in Donna several times since Biden took office and claims more tents are added each week to accommodate youths arriving from south of the border, according to Border Report.
Buses carrying migrants into and out of the compound are seen at the facility constantly, with parking lot staff needed to control the traffic, the report said.
In late April, Cuellar disclosed that the Biden administration had fast-tracked more than 15,300 migrants for release without formal immigration notices – in a so-called “catch and release” process that has drawn criticism from many Republicans.
Cuellar, 65, hails from the border town of Laredo and has represented Texas’ 28th Congressional District since 2005.