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18 U.S. Senators Visit Border, Face Brazen Human Traffickers, Overflowing Detention Sites: 'The Border Is OPEN'

A smuggler paddles a small inflatable raft across the Rio Grande river from Mexico into the U.S. carrying migrant families in Roma, Texas, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

A group of 18 U.S. senators is touring the U.S.-Mexico border to get a firsthand look at the migrant crisis there.

During a night border tour with border patrol agents, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) offered a firsthand account from the Anzalduas International Bridge of watching people cross the border illegally and then be released into the U.S. without a background check, COVID-19 test, or information on where they are going. 

Lankford posted a video on Twitter on Friday writing, "I was out with Border Patrol last night in McAllen, TX. There's no question the border is OPEN. America welcomes legal immigrants from all over the world, but this is out-of-control illegal immigration. This has to stop now."

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"I am in McAllen, Texas, literally right at the Texas - Mexico border," the Oklahoma senator said. "This is one of the underground processing areas that has been literally set under a bridge. This is a bridge that moves from Mexico into the United States. This is where families are actually coming and unaccompanied minors will just show up during the night."

Lankford explained in the video that after going through a basic screening, all of the migrants would be released into McAllen, Texas, with a notice to appear in court. The senator said these court dates could be as far as three years in the future. 

"This is the problem," he said. "This is one of the areas that the media is not allowed to be able to come into. That's why I wanted to be here. To be able to see it and say this is the thing that Biden does not want you to see is that people literally walk across the border, they check in here and they are all released - 100 percent of the people that are here tonight will be released. This is an absolutely open border situation." 

Senate Republicans also tweeted about what the group of senators was seeing. 

"1:00 AM on our southern border. 18 Senators are here with Border Patrol on their night shift. We saw the massive influx of migrant crossings. Countless women + children. We were heckled by cartels. This is a humanitarian crisis. And Joe Biden needs to address it immediately."

Sen. Cruz also tweeted several videos and photos from the border, writing of the group's encounter with gangs: "We encountered human traffickers & cartel members tonight, yelling at us across the Rio Grande and preparing to cross."

"That's Mexico and you can see there are three smugglers right there standing on the Mexican side looking at us. They have been shining their flashlights at us, they are yelling at us," Cruz said.

In another video, Cruz said the group of senators had visited the detention facilities where the migrants are being housed, and are overrun. 

"Many of them with families, small children. We saw multiple mothers who were nursing infant babies, who had just crossed over and are being housed in outdoor holding pens where they were sleeping on the floor and nursing their babies," he said. "We have been listening to and seeing cartel members, human traffickers right on the other side of the river, waving flashlights yelling and taunting Americans, taunting the Border Patrol because they know under the current policies of the Biden administration they can flood over here."

"They're getting paid $4-to-5,000 a person to smuggle them into the country and... when they smuggle them in, the Biden administration releases them," he said.

The trip to the border is led by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and John Cornyn (R-TX) and includes Lankford, Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WIS), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MISS), Sen. Mike Braun (R-IND), and Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL).

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