Local lawmakers check on immigrant children at St. Peter's-St. Joseph's Children's Home

Group was on a humanitarian fact-finding mission

SAN ANTONIO – A handful of local Texas lawmakers on a humanitarian fact-finding mission Tuesday checked on more than 80 immigrant children being housed at St. Peter's-St. Joseph's Children's Home.  

Later at a news conference at nearby Mission Concepcion Park, Texas Sen. Sylvia Garcia, of Houston, said the children they met are not here on spring break.

"They are here fleeing their countries where there is violence, where there is human trafficking, where there's prostitution, where there are things that frankly all us would want to get away from," Garcia said.

"But the great story here is our faith-based institutions, our not-for-profits who are caring for these children," said State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte.

KSAT 12 News requested a comment from Dan Patrick, Van de Putte's Republican opponent for Lt. Governor. Although a staff member said one would be made available, no response was given as of late afternoon Tuesday.

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, of San Antonio, who chairs the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus, asked what Texas is doing in terms of helping care for the immigrant children at facilities in Texas such as St. PJ's.

"I want to know whether we are fulfilling our mission of service in a compassionate way, in a humane way," he said.

Martinez-Fischer said he compares the current crisis to what occurred after Hurricanes Katrina and Ike.

"It requires rapid response, requires flexibility and requires the ability to work cooperatively across many lines," he said.

However, State Sen. Jose Rodriguez, who chairs its Hispanic Caucus, said he is concerned about President Barack Obama's plan to put more immigration judges on the border to expedite deporting the young arrivals.

He said the government instead should be sensitive to their welfare.

Rodriguez said the state "is providing more boots on the ground as an enforcement response, rather than the humanitarian response that we should expect."