McALLEN, Texas (Nexstar) — House Speaker Paul Ryan traveled to the Rio Grande Valley for the first time Wednesday to get a first-hand look at the area where President Donald Trump plans to build a border wall. Ryan was joined by two Texans, House Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, and Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock.
As soon as the delegation touched down at McAllen International Airport, they immediately boarded a helicopter for an aerial tour of the border. The aerial tour wrapped up in Anzalduas Park where the group jumped on a boat for a look at the Rio Grande. During the stop at the park, Ryan also jumped on a horse for a little horseback riding.
Along the way, the lawmakers met with Border Patrol agents and local officials. Their visit also included a stop the holding facility in McAllen where immigrants are processed. Protesters were spotted at various stops along the border.
Protesters were lined up at various stops along the tour. One person believes if Speaker Ryan really wanted to understand the situation along the border, he should’ve taken the time to talk to the people who live and work there.
“He is using the border as a photo opportunity rather than speaking to those who are directly impacted,” said John-Michael Torres, “who will live under the shadows of a border wall, who will be divided by the deportations and who would face the indignities that border patrol agents—that do not have accountability, transparency—inflict on the border residents.”
Ryan now has to go back to Washington armed with what he learned on his visit to help craft a concrete plan for the border wall and who will pay for it.
While Ryan only showed up for a few hours, U.S. Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, spent the first half of the week along the Rio Grande Valley to learn about border security and trade. “As Congress and the Administration consider the best approach to finally secure our southern border and enforce the law, understanding the complex nature of this region is critical. Millions of jobs and billions of dollars are tied to our economic relationship with Mexico, and it’s important for my colleagues to see firsthand how what happens here impacts the rest of the country,” Sen. Cornyn said in a statement.