Dem Lawmakers: Tighter Border Security Means More Illegal Immigrant Deaths

Texas Democratic Congressmen Rubén Hinojosa and Beto O’Rourke are pushing back against efforts to further secure the U.S.-Mexico border, arguing that more migrants would die while illegally crossing the border into America.

“They come here to work hard and they come here to be reunited with their families. The sad truth is that many do not make it to accomplish any of those joyful things that I just described. Many of them lose their lives in the dry cactus and mesquite-filled lands of south Texas where I come from, the area that I represent,” said Hinojosa, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, at a Capitol Hill press conference.

“How many more must die alone on U.S. soil before this country realizes that our immigration system needs an overhaul? We need an immigration reform bill that allows families to be together. We need an immigration reform bill that allows a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants from over 100 countries who call the United States their home. We need a more compassionate and fair approach to those who want to call the United States their home.”

O’Rourke said he opposes the Corker-Hoeven amendment security measures in the Senate immigration bill because they would “further militarize” the border. The bill provides $46 billion in additional funding for a wall and adds 20,000 Border Patrol agents.

In congressional negotiations over immigration reform in the Senate, some Republicans agreed to support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants if border security measures were implemented first.

The Senate immigration bill passed in June. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said the House would not consider the Senate bill but take its own step-by-step approach on immigration reform.

“You have more people dying than ever and fewer people crossing than ever. It’s very reasonable to assume that if we build more walls, further militarize the border, we’re going to push those few remaining migrants who chose to cross into the U.S. into more treacherous, inhospitable and deadly territory. We will definitely see more death and suffering with something like Corker-Hoeven,” said O’Rourke.

According to the Department of Justice, Mexican drug cartels “control access” to the southwest border, which is “the primary gateway for moving the bulk of illicit drugs into the United States.”