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Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Ruiz: There's a 'humanitarian dilemma' at U.S.-Mexico border

Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border have reached a 21-year high of 178,000.

Updated: May 27, 2021 - 12:18pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Raul Ruiz, disagrees with Republicans characterizing the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border as a crisis, calling it, instead, a "humanitarian dilemma."

Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border have reached a 21-year high at 178,000.

Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott recently criticized Vice President Kamala Harris, whom President Biden has put in charge of migration issues, for not visiting the southern border to see the situation up close.

"Now, 123 days since taking office, it's shocking to see the lengths to which President Biden and Vice President Harris will go to avoid seeing the border crisis for themselves," Scott said. "Apprehensions at the border rose above 178,000 in April alone, nearly 6,000 a day. This is about the safety of American families. We must secure the border now."

Ruiz was asked if Harris should visit the border in person.

"I'm sure that someday she will," he said during an interview Wednesday on Capitol Hill. "If you're going to be strategic, right, she's tasked with addressing the root causes of migration north. You don't find the root causes at a CBP station at the border, you find the root causes by speaking to individuals who have fled. You speak to the leaders of local organizations, to the countries that they're fleeing ... industry leaders and U.N. human rights activists, and that's exactly what she's doing."

Ruiz was asked if he personally thinks the border situation is a crisis.

"It's a humanitarian dilemma, and for me, for a family who leaves their country under threat of their daughters being raped, or their son being violently recruited into a cartel or a gang and having to send your children north for safety, knowing that there's risk in doing that but that risk is much less than the risk if they stay at home — that's the crisis," Ruiz responded.

The Democratic congressman from California said there are issues related to climate change in the Northern Triangle countries that have caused a hunger crisis.

"The crisis is when you're a parent and you don't know how you're going to feed your children because of the hurricanes, Eta and Iota, induced from these climate changes," said Ruiz, "and you know that because you're going to get more hurricanes and more and more frequent and intense hurricanes that devastated their agricultural industry, so they're suffering hunger. 

"And they don't see a way where it's going to improve, and they've lost hope, and they're going to where the food is — that's the crisis. So when you deal with that crisis and the root causes, then you're going to decrease the reasons why people are taking that dangerous trip north and making that desperate decision to do so." 

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