A congressional field hearing in McAllen showed lawmakers remain deeply divided over how to handle the influx of thousands Central American immigrants caught illegally crossing the border into Texas. Lawmakers also sparred over what is driving this problem.
"The administration must first recognize that its' failed immigration and border policies are the source of this problem," said Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Congressman Michael McCaul.
McCaul cited a recent Department of Homeland Security survey of unaccompanied children in detention centers.
"(The survey) revealed the more than 70-percent believe they are going to remain here in the United States," said McCaul.
McCaul said the government must detain and deport the thousands of unaccompanied children crowding detention facilities along the border and in other states. McCaul believes detention and deportation will deter others from trying to come to the US illegally.
"Here in Texas we are facing an escalating refugee and national security crisis," said McCaul. "Our military bases are turning into refugee camps, that is something I never thought I would see in the United States of America."
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee countered those arguments by saying it was rampant violence in Central America, not US policy, that is creating this problem.
"We don't have to make it up, these children were forcibly displaced," said Lee.
Lee said she visited with many of the children in detention centers and argued they pose no threat to the US.
"(Border Patrol Agents) will tell you these are the most orderly, behaved children who simply want to be free of the murderous conditions from which they flee," said Lee. "A massive deportation policy for children and a mandatory detaining of children is not a humane thing to do."
Lee also balked at the assertion a child as young as two years old could be influenced by US policy.
"I can't believe they're calculating enough to think, 'I'm going to go here so I can inspire my other fellow classmates or babies', like the two year old that was in a diaper," said Lee.
Governor Rick Perry was one of the main witnesses at Thursday's hearing. Perry also blamed the federal government for not securing the border and having weak immigration policies.
"The border between US and Mexico is less secure today than any time in the recent past," said Perry.
Perry and director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw, both told lawmakers drug cartels and potential terrorists can exploit a border were resources have been overwhelmed by illegal immigrants.
"Now is not the time to be distracted by something else," said Perry.
Lee shot back by saying, "this is a humanitarian crisis, not a national security crisis."
Georgia Congressman Paul Broun said the blame for this problem goes back decades.
"I blame four administrations, two Republican and two Democrat for not addressing these issues," said Broun.
During his opening remarks, McCaul did call on Mexico to do a better job of securing its southern border to prevent Central American immigrants from crossing into that country.
"We appropriate millions of dollars to Mexico for this purpose," said McCaul.
Despite more than three hours of testimony and questions, no concrete solutions were set or specific action taken to address this crisis. Lawmakers said the plan was take the information learned at hearing back to colleagues in Washington, DC to find a bi-partisan solution to this problem.