EDITOR’S NOTE: U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo was the only Democrat to vote for controversial immigration reform legislation earlier this year following a surge of undocumented immigrants into South Texas. He explains during a Sept. 26 meeting with ‘The Monitor’’s editorial board as excerpted below:
Broken borders, Broken system
A multi-part series of editorials and columns regarding the issue of immigration reform.
When a surge of Central Americans descended on the Rio Grande Valley to cross into this country illegally in the summer of 2014, the cries to ‘Seal our border,’ and ‘Reform immigration’ reverberated across the country. The Monitor quickly determined that, beyond the rhetoric, many of those screaming the loudest had few specific policy recommendations to fix the problem. The Monitor editorial board began talking to law enforcement, policymakers, human rights activists, local readers and the immigrants themselves in search of answers. This series represents the culmination of at least six months of research and interviews with scores of people. It is presented on these pages in the hopes of spurring discourse about one of the most significant public policy debates to visit our country and our region in decades.
Under a starry night sky last week, hundreds of law enforcement agents from federal, state and local organizations patrolled the Rio Grande and the surrounding border looking for anyone who might be trying to cross into our country illegally, might be illegally transporting goods — or threatening our national security.
The presence of this beefed up security force is a tactical and political reaction to this year’s surge of immigrants, including thousands of unaccompanied children, who have been crossing illegally into South Texas from as far away as Central America.