(WJHL) — Tennessee Rep. Diana Harshbarger is back in D.C. after visiting the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Republican representing Tennessee’s First Congressional District met with Border Patrol agents on the crisis they are now dealing with as more migrants flee countries like Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras to find refuge the U.S.
Rep. Harshbarger went to the Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas Sunday with a group of Republicans on the Homeland Security Committee to see the border crisis up close.
“The U.S., the federal government, is becoming the biggest facilitator of human smuggling across the border,” she said.
Based on conversations Harshbarger had with federal agents, she says money needs to be redirected back to finishing former President Donald Trump’s border wall.
“The Border Patrol agents told us where the wall was built it deterred 80 percent of illegal and illicit behavior. They went somewhere else. That wall works,” said Harshbarger.
She says it is a humanitarian crisis both inside border facilities and as children cross from Mexico to the United States.
“That’s like my son sending my grandson across the border by himself. It is unbelievable,” said Harshbarger. “It doesn’t just tug your heartstrings it gives you a righteous anger that says this has to stop.”
The congresswoman believes the problems at the border are playing into the drug problem in Northeast Tennessee as meth and fentanyl come across the border.
“Sheriff Dexter Lunceford from Carter County said he has seen a 40% increase in methamphetamine. Well there is no wonder. They can walk it right in on these parts of the border that have not been finished,” she said.
Harshbarger adds one of the biggest national security threats she witnessed comes as patrol agents are being pulled from securing the border.
“They had to pull 40% of border agents off of border patrol to put them in processing centers because they are at 420% capacity. That is a problem.”
She said with those facilities being so overcrowded, she is concerned about a COVID-19 surge at the border as she says the facilities are holding four times the amount of people they are meant to.
Rep. Harshbarger posted on Twitter that she has joined some of her colleagues in writing a letter to one of our nation’s top health experts, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on what they say is a public health emergency at the border.
The letter shares the lawmakers’ concerns about border facilities not being able to properly mitigate COVID-19.
It also urges Fauci to speak out on the crisis.