House GOP Leader Steve Scalise Shocked by Border Visit: 'An International Disgrace'

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said he has been "alarmed" by what he's seen in recent days after leading a delegation of fellow GOP members of Congress to the southern border, where there has been a record surge of migrant children entering the country.

"It's a humanitarian crisis," Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, told Newsweek Friday, shortly after visiting an immigration processing facility at the border in Texas.

Scalise said he was shocked by what he's seen: young children crossing in groups of sometimes five to a single boat, kids cramped like "sardines" in holding facilities, "overwhelmed" Border Patrol agents.

"It's an international disgrace on the southern border," Scalise said.

But two top officials who haven't seen the problem firsthand are Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, whom the president has tasked with monitoring the border situation. Neither has traveled to the border or has such a trip planned for the near future, according to their publicly available schedules.

Biden has made recent trips to Georgia, Delaware and Pennsylvania, and Harris has gone Chicago and California. Meanwhile, the White House has pushed back on suggestions that they aren't keeping an eye on the border situation, which the administration insists is a "challenge" that is being addressed.

"There's no question this is a difficult challenge, and the president believes he was elected to address hard problems," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters this week. "His focus, right now, is on expediting processing at the border, opening up additional facilities, addressing the root causes and restarting programs to incentivize kids from applying from within their countries."

Psaki said that Biden is regularly updated by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who has made multiple trips to the border.

The Biden administration this week has primarily been focused on building support for a $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure package, after getting a nearly $2 trillion economic relief bill passed in Congress last month.

Joining Scalise on the trip to the border this week while Congress has been on recess were Republican Representatives Rodney Davis of Illinois, Michael McCaul of Texas, Devin Nunes of California, Richard Hudson of North Carolina, French Hill of Arkansas, Bob Latta of Ohio, Nicole Malliotakis of New York, Steve Stivers of Ohio, Ann Wagner of Missouri and Steve Womack of Arkansas.

They're just the latest delegation of Republicans who have gone to the border to personally survey the influx of migrants—particularly unaccompanied children—that has severely strained the Border Patrol and immigration processing facilities. Others have been Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

The Border Patrol is on track to encounter more than 1 million migrants this year—more than double the total encounters in 2020.

Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House, had never traveled to the border sites before, he said, but he now sees the value in witnessing the situation firsthand.

"The president needs to come see this," he said. "When there is a national crisis anywhere in the country, the president has a responsibility to go and see for themselves what is happening."

Migrants from Central America, who arrived illegally from Mexico to seek asylum in the U.S., disembark from an inflatable boat after crossing the Rio Grande on March 29 in Roma, Texas. They later turned themselves over to U.S. Border Patrol agents. ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images