Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

A migrant mother and her children sit in the dirt at a temporary processing center under the Anzalduas International Bridge in McAllen, Texas. Photo: Stef Kight/Axios

At night, parents with young children march through the brush after crossing the Rio Grande River in the pitch black. By day, unaccompanied kids arrive at shelters, in one instance 17 of 17 testing positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: Axios accompanied a delegation of Republican lawmakers to South Texas last week — followed by a unilateral visit to El Paso — to see in real-time the challenges fueled by a border surge, the effects of actions taken by the previous administration, and the lagging response by the new one.

What we saw: Abandoned flotation devices litter each bank of the Rio Grande between Mission, Texas, and Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

  • Smugglers and U.S. border agents peer at each other across the river late at night through night-vision goggles.
A bright light pinpoints a smuggler across the Rio Grande River staring back at the delegation and border agents through their own night-vision goggles. Photo: Stef Kight/Axios
  • Just down the road, hundreds of recently arrived migrant parents and children sit in the dirt at a makeshift processing center under the Anzalduas International Bridge in McAllen, Texas. They are penned in with orange safety netting and provided Little Hug fruit barrels and water.
  • On a hot afternoon in El Paso, migrant adults and families are marched in single file back across the bridge into Ciudad Juárez, Mexico — expelled without a chance for asylum under a Trump-era order kept in place by President Biden.
  • Just that morning, a dozen or so single males walked in the opposite direction across the same bridge after spending two years waiting under the so-called Remain in Mexico program.
A woman and young boy being expelled to Juarez, Mexico, at the end of a long line of single adults. Photo: Russell Contreras/Axios

Between the lines: The visit illustrated the complexities of the country’s migrant crisis in heart-wrenching detail — a reality that goes far beyond the political soundbites that are driving the national conversation.

  • In March, the U.S. experienced the highest number of border crossings in 15 years, on top of record numbers of unaccompanied minors.
  • Congressional Democrats had known passing comprehensive immigration reform was a long shot, hoping instead to pass pathways to citizenship for Dreamers and essential workers.
  • Republican opponents have been bolstered by the surge at the border.

During the congressional trip, Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee largely spoke to law enforcement officials in South Texas, who underscored the record levels of migration in the area.

  • They heard from overwhelmed and disgruntled border officials in the Rio Grande Valley area, and state troopers who talked about taking down drug smugglers and human traffickers.
  • Brandon Judd, president of a large, conservative Border Patrol union, aggressively criticized President Biden's decision to end President Trump's Remain in Mexico policy — saying he would rather see policy changes than more funding.

There is “zero social distancing” inside the temporary holding facility in Donna, Texas, one Rio Grande Valley border official told the members.

  • Pods designed to hold 30 to 50 migrants during the pandemic had 10 times those numbers, according to staffers and members who briefed Axios after their tour inside.
Migrant teenage boys receive their initial health screening before entering an already overcrowded Border Patrol center in Donna, Texas. Photo: Stef Kight/Axios
  • Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) described seeing a 7-year-old girl with mental disabilities who had been held for more than two weeks. "She had tears in her eyes the entire time," he told Axios.
  • That same day, all 17 kids who arrived at the Upbring New Hope shelter tested positive for coronavirus, workers said. It's a sign of the added complications in caring for migrants during a pandemic.

Each stop provided reinforcement for the talking points of some of President Trump's staunchest defenders in the House, which were repeated on Fox News and Newsmax throughout the trip.

  • "Crisis," "chaos" and "catastrophe" were the words of choice.
  • "You can't get into your capital, but anybody and everybody can get into your country," Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said during a press conference outside the headquarters for the National Border Patrol Council.

Meanwhile, interviews with House Democrats and directors of nonprofits on the front lines in El Paso revealed the human trauma inflicted by U.S. policies — and raised questions about their effectiveness.

  • Several expressed frustration the Biden administration was caught flat-footed by rising border numbers, hasn't ended the rapid expulsion of families to Mexico, and hasn't acknowledged the severity of the situation.
Families with small children prepare to board a bus at the temporary outdoor processing site under the Anzalduas International Bridge, which will take them to a local charity to help them reach their final destination. Photo: Stef Kight/Axios
  • “I don't understand why they're not being more transparent,” Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) told Axios after being asked about the little access provided for media.

Axios was not allowed inside U.S. facilities such as the Donna temporary center, ports of entry and a child migrant shelter, despite being invited to join the Republican delegation and requests directly with the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Axios was allowed in an emergency shelter in a sports complex in Ciudad Juárez run by the Mexican federal government. It opened Monday after more than a dozen other facilities in the area were beyond capacity. It already held around 170 migrants, mostly women and children.
  • One 34-year-old Salvadoran woman walked up to a reporter with a 2-year-old on her hip.
  • She sobbed as she described in Spanish being placed on a plane, thinking she would soon be reunited with her husband and 11-year-old daughter in Georgia — only to be told she actually was back in Mexico.
  • She received no interview with officials and no explanation as to why she was being expelled.
Mexican kids peer into Sunland Park, N.M., from the other side of the border wall. They gave Axios permission to take their photo. Photo: Stef Kight/Axios

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - World

Death toll mounts as fighting between Israel and Hamas intensifies

Palestinian Muslims exchange wishes for Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, near a razed building in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, on May 13. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

At least 109 Palestinians and seven people in Israel have been killed since recent fighting between Israel's military and Hamas began Monday.

The big picture: Israel began massing troops on its border with Gaza on Thursday, launching attacks from the air and ground as Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel.

By the numbers: Where the earmarks are wanted

Expand chart
Data: House Committee on Appropriations; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is being targeted for the largest collective earmark request in the country, according to a detailed breakdown of overall requests released by the House Appropriations Committee.

Why it matters: House appropriators are trying to balance bipartisan momentum for infrastructure investment with "pork-barrel" spending's checkered political history. The data dump is an effort to provide transparency for what are now termed "community project funding" requests.

Democrats open to user fees for infrastructure deal

President Biden sits Thursday with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) as they discuss his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some Senate Democrats are open to paying for a compromise infrastructure package by imposing user fees, including increasing the gas tax and raising money from electric car drivers through a vehicle-miles-traveled charge.

Why it matters: By inching toward the Republican position on pay-fors, some Democrats are bucking President Biden's push to offset his proposed $2.3 trillion plan by focusing only on raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.