Horsford on fact-finding trip to border

WASHINGTON — Rep. Steven Horsford is traveling to the southern border of Texas today to be briefed by federal officials on the flood of children entering the country, and to tour a holding facility where a number of them are being held.

Horsford, D-Nev., is joining House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and two other Democrats on a one-day trip to Brownsville, Texas. Other lawmakers are scheduled in other groups to visit the border during the weeklong congressional recess.

“I am looking to see firsthand the impact to the U.S. of unaccompanied children who are escaping violence from their home countries and are stuck in a system where we need to make sure they are properly cared for in a humane and dignified manner,” Horsford said Friday.

The group, which also includes Reps. Ruben Hinojosa and Filemon Vela of Texas, will meet with officials from Customs and Border Protection. They also will tour the South Texas Detention Facility where children are being held as authorities begin accounting for them.

It was not clear if the lawmakers would be given the chance to speak with any of the children, many of whom took long and treacherous journeys to the United States.

The Department of Homeland Security has estimated about 50,000 unaccompanied minors have been gathered along the southern border, most of them coming from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Authorities say the number could grow to 90,000 or more this year

The Obama administration attributes the influx to increasing violence and economic strife in those countries.

Republicans say they are drawn by the belief the administration might allow them to stay, a message that also is given as a lure to impoverished families by human traffickers.

Horsford said Obama critics are politicizing the issue that appears to him to be rooted in Central American poverty and that might require stepped-up U.S. humanitarian and economic aid to those counties.

“I want to look for myself what are the underlying issues,” he said. “This is a very difficult situation where children are stuck in the middle.”

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760. Follow @STetreaultDC on Twitter.