Congressman Panetta Releases Statement on Southern Border and his Upcoming Trip to Texas ORR Facility for Migrant Children

March 21, 2021
Press Release

Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) released the following statement about the current challenges at the southern border and his upcoming visit to a southern border facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas:


“Despite an historic week in Congress in which the U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan immigration reform legislation, that I helped to author, to protect our Dreamers, TPS recipients, and farmworkers with an earned pathway to citizenship and modernize our agriculture worker visa program, we also must now confront the tremendous challenges that our nation continues to experience at our southern border.  Currently, our federal government is trying to keep up with the deluge of asylum seekers fleeing violent and dire economic conditions in parts of Central and South America.  In the first weeks of his administration, President Joe Biden took the necessary and appropriate steps to stop the shamefully inhumane and shamelessly political border polices of the ex-president.  However, in March, close to 100,000 people have already been arrested and detained at the southern border and we are now on pace to encounter more individuals coming to our country than at any other time in the past 20 years.  Despite President Biden’s clear admonishment to not come now and our federal government’s efforts in turning back a majority of those arriving at our southern border, there currently are 10,000 unaccompanied minors in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services and 5000 more in the care of Customs and Border Protection.  Although the Biden Administration sent the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help out at the southern border, more needs to be done in order to update our outdated immigration system with more resources for the asylum process so that we can uphold the laws and values of our nation." 

"Due to President Jimmy Carter’s Refugee Act of 1980, and as a signatory to the 1967 United Nations Protocol, the United States must process those who have crossed our border and claim asylum and provide protections to those who qualify as asylees.  However, in order to decide who qualifies and, thus, who can stay in this country, there is an application and determination process.  Unfortunately, the resources that it takes to make such decisions in a timely and orderly fashion are antiquated and absolutely inadequate for the young ages and large number of people currently claiming asylum.  I visited the southern border and supporting facilities several times last Congress and came away with the same conclusion after each trip that resources to properly and compassionately deal with our border challenges must be increased.  Unfortunately, the previous administration failed to act accordingly and provide such tools, despite our outspoken advocacy in Congress.  That is why my congressional colleagues and I anticipate working with the Biden administration to ensure not only a more secure border with reasonable and applicable technology and infrastructure, but also to fund more resources to administer a more orderly and humane way to deal with and determine the claims of the overwhelming amount of asylum seekers.  These resources should include more immigration judges, court personnel, officers, monitors, courts, shelters, facilities and more.  Additionally, we must find out if it is possible to safely make such determinations in the home countries of the migrants and provide the resources to analyze and help fix the root causes of what is driving people out of those countries to the United States."    

"As a nation born of and built by immigrants, it is perturbing and pitiful to see immigration reform and the situation at the southern border become such a politicized and polarized topic by the past president to local small-town newspapers.  As your federal representative, it is my responsibility to base my decisions on evidence over emotion in order to help ensure that our nation is safe and the laws that represent our national values are upheld.  This week I will take another fact-finding trip to a facility for migrant children on the southern border of Texas.  The purpose of my trip will be to ensure that our asylum laws are being enforced in a humane manner and to acquire the evidence that I need to advocate for the funding of increased resources to assist our government to practicably secure our border and properly and compassionately process and adjudicate the claims of asylees fleeing to our country."  

"As the grandson of immigrants who sacrificed everything to come to this country to give their children a better life, and having grown up in our community on the central coast of California that understands and values the contributions of immigrants to our economy, culture, and country, I have and will continue to fight for an efficient, current, and humane asylum system, the reasonable security of our borders, and sensible and meaningful immigration reform.  I will continue that fight based on where I come from and who I am as an American and U.S. Representative for our home who firmly believes that it is our responsibility to uphold the precept of our nation as stated in the farewell address by President Ronald Reagan, the last president to sign into law national immigration reform, that the United States is 'still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the Pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.'"