McALLEN, Texas — Lawmakers from Pennsylvania and New Jersey visited the U.S.-Mexico border on Monday to learn more about the growing immigration crisis.
Known as the Problem Solvers Caucus, the bipartisan group of 58 lawmakers, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, said they're ready to set aside the political battles and come up with solutions to the decades-long debate over the border.
Among them were U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, who represents parts of Bucks and Montgomery counties; U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, who represents Berks, Schuylkill and several other counties; and U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who represents parts of western New Jersey.
"We've got to give law enforcement, both local and border patrol, we've got to give them help," said Gottheimer, a Democrat. "It's just overwhelming."
Gottheimer said the group, which toured immigration processing facilities and met with local leaders in the border town of McAllen, Texas, also saw unaccompanied children as young as three years old.
U.S. Customs and Border patrol reported nearly 19,000 children traveled across the border alone in March, the largest number ever recorded.
"We have the capability to fix it," said Fitzpatrick, a Republican. "We are very resolved. I can tell you that right now."
"I'd rather see them (lawmakers) in Washington, D.C. trying to really deal with immigration reform," said Raymond Lahoud, a Lehigh Valley-based immigration attorney.
Lahoud said while lawmaker visits to the border do help bring attention to the problem, they, so far, haven't come close to solving it.
"We have a serious problem down there," Lahoud said, "and it's a problem that's occurring year after year, whether we have President Trump or President Biden."