Texas Dem Henry Cuellar Urges Biden to Use Photos of Migrants Being Turned Away to Stem Surge

Texas Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar urged President Joe Biden to disperse images of a packed U.S. Customs and Border Protection overflow facility in order to stem the increasing flow of migrants showing up the country's southern border.

Cuellar shared the exclusive photographs Monday with Axios, prompting many conservative outlets and lawmakers to use it as evidence that the Biden administration is attempting to hide the true magnitude of the border crisis.

But Cuellar, a Texas congressman since 2005, instead said he shared the temporary overflow facility pictures as a plea.

"These migrant children need our help right now," he tweeted.

The space-blanket-filled "pod" in the photograph is intended for a 260-person occupancy limit, but one held more than 400 unaccompanied male minors.

"The conditions are terrible for the children," Cuellar told Axios on Monday. "The system is being overwhelmed right now. No ifs, no buts about it."

NEW: Exclusive photos from inside a CBP temporary overflow facility taken over the weekend in Donna, Texas reveal the crowded, makeshift conditions at the border as the government's longer term child shelters and family detention centers fill uphttps://t.co/uxdWO7cV7N

— Stef Kight (@StefWKight) March 22, 2021

Cuellar did not visit the Donna, Texas, facility and said the photographs of the vastly overcrowded immigration center were taken over the weekend. Children can be seen placed in crowded pods divided by clear partitions. Many appear to be curled up under foil blankets atop small cushions for bedding.

Cuellar acknowledged Monday that the Biden administration message "has been changed," noting that they recently declared the border not to be open. But, he added, "they've got to do more to overcome the messages you hear in Central America," where drug smugglers and human traffickers are enticing them to try the border crossing.

Cuellar reiterated that Biden and federal government officials at the border must promote the photographs as a means of convincing potential migrants that they should not attempt the often-dangerous border crossing into the U.S.

Cuellar also expressed concern at reports that customs officials released 150 migrants into the U.S. without any notice to appear in court.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded to this Monday, telling reporters that those families "are awaiting deportation, they don't need a court date and they don't need a notice to appear because it has already been determined that they will be sent back to their home countries."

"More has to be done to address this growing humanitarian crisis," Cuellar tweeted Monday evening, sharing the photographs of the "crowded, makeshift conditions at the border."

Many conservative-leaning outlets have taken on a different message in sharing the photographs, with Tuesday's New York Post cover declaring, "Biden's Cages: Pictures the prez doesn't want you to see." Republican lawmakers have for weeks accused the new Democratic administration of deliberately hiding any images of overcrowding in order to downplay the ongoing crisis.

Newsweek reached out to Customs and Border Protection officials Tuesday morning for additional remarks about the crisis and Biden administration response.

Women stopped at US-Mexico border during surge
Border patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence after the women crossed the Rio Grande into El Paso, Texas, on March 17, 2021, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. John Moore/Getty Images