WATCH: Sens. Ted Cruz, John Cornyn give update after leading Senate delegation in border tour

News conference at 2:30 p.m. will be livestreamed in this article

Editor’s Note: The news conference can be viewed in the video player above.

Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz visited the Texas-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley on Friday afternoon to lead a Senate delegation in a tour of the area in response to the increase in migrant crossings.

Cruz and Cornyn brought along other Republican senators from non-border states to assess and address the situation on the border.

“As part of our oversight duties as Senators, I and 14 of my colleagues will travel to the border this week to talk to the brave men and women on the ground who are working every today to stop this crisis and secure the border,” Cruz said in a letter.

Cornyn and Cruz have taken aim at the Biden administration as the number of migrants attempting to cross the border reached the highest level since a spring 2019 surge under President Donald Trump, according to the most recently released statistics.

Cornyn said the Biden administration’s lift on the “Remain in Mexico” policy has proven problematic.

“The smugglers, the drug-runners -- they understand our laws and they know how to exploit them to their benefit, so ending catch-and-release and making sure those with legitimate claims get to present them to an immigration judge I think should be a priority,” Cornyn said.

The group of senators also visited the Donna detention center. Republicans say there are 4,200 migrants held at the facility, where there is a capacity of 250 under COVID-19 protocol.

“We saw cages after cages after cages of little girls and little boys lying side by side, touching each other, covered with reflective emergency blankets. There was no 6-foot space. There was no 3-foot. There wasn’t a 3-inch space,” Cruz said.

The delegation stated the importance of sending the right message and encourages President Biden to visit the border and witness the situation for himself.

WATCH: Texas senators lead Senate delegation on border tour in Rio Grande Valley (KSAT 12 Nightbeat coverage)

President Joe Biden has said the U.S. will take steps to more quickly move hundreds of migrant children and teens out of cramped detention facilities along the Southwest border. He has pushed back against suggestions that his administration’s policies are responsible for the rising number of people seeking to enter the country.

Also on Friday, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio led a Democratic congressional delegation tour of the Carrizo Springs Office of Refugee Resettlement facility, which is holding unaccompanied children.

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About the Authors

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He’s a bilingual award-winning news reporter and he joined KSAT in 2021. Before coming to San Antonio, Cotto was reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy.

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