Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) attracted a flurry of social media attention in the early hours of Friday morning for sharing videos on Twitter that he said showed human traffickers on the other side of the border in Mexico.
Cruz described the footage, posted at 2:15 a.m., as a night shift patrol along the banks of the Rio Grande to observe migrant facilities along the U.S. southern border with 18 other Republican senators.
“We have been listening to and seeing cartel members, human traffickers, right on the other side of the river, waving flashlights, yelling and taunting Americans — taunting the Border Patrol — because they know that under the current policy of the Biden administration, they can flood over here,” Cruz said in one of the videos. “They’re getting paid four, five thousand dollars a person to smuggle them into this country. And ... when they smuggle them in, the Biden administration releases them.”
Cruz also said he had visited crowded detention facilities and witnessed migrant women in outdoor holding pens nursing their babies. He called the situation both a “humanitarian crisis” and a “public health crisis,” arguing that migrants tested positive for COVID-19 at a much higher rate than Americans — a misleading claim based only on estimates from border sheriffs.
“It’s time for the Biden administration to put an end to it, and stop sanctioning lawless chaos on our southern border,” Cruz said.
Right-wing media hailed the videos, with Fox News host Sean Hannity’s website featuring the “incredible footage.”
Another senator on the trip, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), likewise tweeted that the border situation was a crisis and added that “Border Patrol is overwhelmed, overworked & discouraged by new policies.”
Nevertheless, numerous Twitter users — including former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) — argued that Cruz was fear-mongering about migrants trying to cross the border. Others brought up Cruz’s getaway to Cancun, Mexico, as hundreds of thousands of his own constituents were left without power due to extreme weather in Texas last month. Some said that the surreal, documentary-style feel of the footage was reminiscent of a “Saturday Night Live” sketch.
In February, nearly 100,000 migrants were detained at the U.S.-Mexico border — the highest number since a previous uptick in 2019 — and there are more than 14,000 migrant children in federal custody now.
The Biden administration’s struggle to handle the increase of people attempting to enter the U.S. has become a major talking point for Republicans, including not only Cruz but also former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, who called Biden’s immigration policies inhumane in February despite the fact that he was a principal advocate of family separations during the Trump era.