Amid skyrocketing illegal immigration numbers and as children from U.S./Mexico border detention centers begin arriving in Pennsylvania, U.S. Rep. Fred Keller said he wanted to “see first hand what is happening.”
Monday was Keller’s first official visit to the border and while there he and a group of other legislators visited an intake facility, two ports of entry and met with local ranchers whose properties sit along the border.
Keller called the border issue a “humanitarian crisis” that affects the entire country, not just the border states.
The U.S. Department of Human Services confirmed that 150 migrant children arrived in Erie on Tuesday and more may arrive soon.
“This makes every state a border state,” Keller said, adding that kids without parents would need to be given food, education and shelter. “It’s going to tax a lot of the local resources.”
Adult individuals detained at the border also are not immediately deported, Keller said. They are given a court date and released with work papers so that they can continue on to their intended destination and may be able to remain in the country for a number of years.
After meeting with border agents, local elected officials and ranchers, Keller said the message from everyone was the same – keep building the border wall, and reinstate former President Donald Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy.
The “remain in Mexico” policy forced certain immigrants to stay in Mexico during their trial period, instead of being released into the states.
President Joe Biden halted the policy and construction on the border wall soon after taking office.
Keller criticised Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris for not yet visiting the border. He encouraged them both to make the trip and said he intended to give the administration a report from his visit.
Above all, he said the border crisis is an “issue of national security.” Ranchers told the group they often ride the edge of their properties, which abut the Mexican border and often are used by illegal immigrants to cross unseen.
The ranchers said they see people cross daily who are dressed in camouflage and often have weapons.
“We have American citizens who are afraid in their own homes,” Keller said. “That’s an invasion.”
Keller, who just returned from the border Tuesday afternoon, said he is dedicated to continue working on the border crisis.
“I’m committed to make sure that I stay on top of this,” he said.