Sen. John Cornyn tours Houston facility for unaccompanied minors

HOUSTON – A Texas senator visited a Houston-area facility on Tuesday where migrant children from Central America are temporarily staying.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn took a trip to Houston to visit an undisclosed facility for unaccompanied children run by the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. The Republican senator said he met with some of the children who were from Guatemala and Honduras as they were being tutored.

“There’s obviously a smaller number of children being helped here, and it’s a night and day difference. This again is what I consider to be the gold standard of (how) you’re going to have the current system,” Cornyn said while comparing the Houston facility to the one near the Texas-Mexico border.

It was a contrast, Cornyn said, to images journalists were able to capture at a migrant facility in Donna, Texas.

Thousands of unaccompanied children could be seen packed in rooms designed for a few hundred all while during a pandemic.

Cornyn said many of the children are being kept in the facilities longer than their 72-hour hold time while they wait for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide temporary housing or to reunite the children with family living in the U.S.

“They understand that if they can make it here, they’ll probably get to stay here, and that’s an enormous pull factor that we need to balance out in order to make this a safer and humane process.”

Sen. Cornyn said U.S. Border Patrol agents are overwhelmed and illegal drug smugglers are taking advantage.

“When the border patrol is off the front line, the criminal organizations that smuggle people and smuggle drugs, then they have an opening,” Cornyn added.

The Texas senator said he’s working on a bipartisan effort to allow unaccompanied children to see an immigration judge if they have a valid asylum case, which would then be granted immediately as opposed to “catch and release”.

“I don’t think anybody in their right mind would think the status quo is acceptable. We need to find a way to humanely and legally allow immigration to occur,” he said. “But we can’t just put the welcome mat out for anybody and everybody in the world that wants to come to the United States because we’ll be overwhelmed and that’s what we’re seeing happening right now.