Dems call for 'strategic investments' while touring southern border

A group of Democratic lawmakers toured the U.S.-Mexico border on Saturday and called for more resources to process people who enter the country amid negotiations over border security funding.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Dems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Winners and losers in the border security deal MORE (D-Md.) wrote on Twitter that the lawmakers were meeting with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials during the trip, which included a visit to a shelter for immigrants and a meeting with immigrant activists.

“We’re touring sites along the border with @CBP officials, including the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry. What we have seen confirms we need smart, strategic investments to strengthen border security and provide humanitarian assistance," he tweeted.

“The crisis that is claimed of America being under siege or attack I don’t agree with,” Hoyer added in a video posted to his Facebook page. “We do have a humanitarian challenge and crisis in some respects.”


“We’re here to see what the facts are,” he said, noting that the representatives spoke with people who work in security and those who advocate on the legal and humanitarian sides of the issue.

Hoyer visited the border with newly elected Democratic Reps. Deb HaalandDebra HaalandHaaland: It's 'exhausting' to keep up with Trump's 'ignorance and racism' for Native Americans Dems call for 'strategic investments' while touring southern border Trump gets dose of new political reality at State of the Union MORE (N.M.), Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarHouse Dems rallying behind border deal with 55 miles of barriers O'Rourke counters Trump's border claims in rival El Paso rally Dems call for 'strategic investments' while touring southern border MORE (Texas), Xochitl Torres Small (N.M) and Mary Gay ScanlonMary Gay ScanlonDems call for 'strategic investments' while touring southern border Dems use legal pad notes to push back on a South American troop deployment MORE (Pa.).

Democrats made the trip as lawmakers race against the clock to finish negotiations over border security funding ahead of a Feb. 15 deadline to avert another partial government shutdown.

Lawmakers are also seeking to bolster their argument that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE would not be justified in declaring a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border, something he has floated doing if lawmakers don't come up with money to fund a border wall.

"Despite the President's demagoguery over immigration, there is not a national emergency or a security crisis at the border that demands a wall," Hoyer said in a statement Thursday in advance of the trip to the border.

Lawmakers were haggling this week over figures well below Trump's demand for $5.7 billion in funding for a wall on the Mexican border. Trump acknowledged those negotiations in a tweet Saturday afternoon while asserting that "Democrats just don't seem to want Border Security."

"If you believe news reports, they are not offering much for the Wall. They look to be making this a campaign issue. The Wall will get built one way or the other!" he wrote.

Democrats maintained that they were in favor of some investments at the border.

"Democrats have been putting forth ideas proposing funding for technology, for increased number of immigration judges, for more agents on the border to process the number of people who are coming through,” Haaland said in a video Saturday. “That was absolutely confirmed today by the people who work there."

Scanlon tweeted about a woman they met who had been separated from her children at the border as a result of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy requiring all adults who illegally cross the border to be prosecuted.

"We just met with a woman who was separated from her children at our border. She told her two young girls that she was going away to work and was not reunited with them until 4 months later," Scanlon tweeted.

"When she would talk to the girls on the phone, which did not happen often, her young girls would tell her 'to work faster' so that they could see her again. This is a humanitarian crisis that we have an obligation to work together to fix."

Representatives said they discussed immigration with advocates in El Paso, Texas, including some affiliated with Annunciation House, which gives immigrants food and shelter. 

Trump is slated to hold a rally in El Paso on Monday as he makes his case for billions of dollars in funding for a border wall. The president's demand for more than $5 billion in funding for a wall was the primary sticking point in negotiations during the 35-day shutdown that ended late last month.