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Problem Solvers' Caucus to release migrant plan, Congressman Vicente Gonzalez says

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Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) says the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers who visited the Rio Grande Valley in April, is releasing a plan that will look at root causes for the increase of migrants at the border, instead of just focusing on short-term management of migrants.

"When people say we have a crisis on our border, I say, 'No, we don’t have a crisis at the border, we have a crisis in three Central American countries," Gonzalez said.

RELATED: Bipartisan lawmakers touring the southern border causing concern for some migrants

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, in April, about 61,000 people were turned away at the border in the Valley   almost double of what the region saw in February.

Most of the people turned away last month were from Honduras, according to CBP. That’s why Gonzalez says the first part of his plan is to invest more into the northern triangle made up of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. 

"And also make significant investments in these countries, to create conditions that people do not want to migrate to," Gonzalez said.

In addition to more aid, Gonzalez says he wants to open up more trade.

"A lot of these countries, they need more trade, not aid," Gonzalez said. 

Gonzalez spoke to Vice President Kamala Harris last week about his ideas, and he says she received them well. Another aspect of managing the increase of migrants, Gonzalez says, will be expanding processing centers.

"Not only on our border, but also on Mexico’s southern border, where people can check-in and file for an asylum claim," Gonzalez said.

But some community advocates say they think the real issue is the lack of asylum. Danny Diaz, an organizer with La Union Del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), believes the Valley is seeing more migrants because under Title 42 protections, adults aren’t able to claim asylum. Title 42 allows migrants to be turned away due to health concerns.

"We think the coronavirus and the pandemic is being used as an excuse to violate the rights of people who are trying to legally seek asylum," Diaz said. 

Gonzalez says legislation containing all of these ideas will be coming out soon, adding that the Problem Solvers’ Caucus will be scheduling another trip to the Valley first. 

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