MCALLEN, Texas – U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar visited with illegal immigrants being held at a U.S. Border Patrol facility in McAllen on Saturday.
The visit by the Democratic congressman was his first since a recent influx of thousands of immigrants, many of them unaccompanied children, made their way to the Rio Grande Valley and other areas of the U.S. Southwest.
Cuellar spoke with immigrants, many of them from Central America, to find out why they're making the dangerous trip to the United States.
The congressman said many of them cited harsh economic times and violence as reasons for leaving their home country.
"You know, one of the fathers said about four people in his neighborhood had been killed," Cuellar said. The father told Cuellar that gang leaders told him, 'Hey we want your son. If your son doesn't join our gang, we are going to kill (him).'"
The visit by Cuellar to a facility holding the immigrants is the second in as many days by a U.S. congressman.
On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, visited a temporary shelter for unaccompanied children at Lackland Air Force Base.
Castro said the conditions at the Lackland shelter were better than photographs of an undisclosed facility in South Texas, which showed women and children crammed in holding cells and people wrapped in foil blankets and sleeping on cement floors.