Roe said he and seven other physicians who serve in Congress will inspect detention facilities housing mostly Central American refugees crossing from Mexico at McAllen, Texas. Those holding centers have come under scrutiny following news of deteriorating conditions and the harsh treatment of children.
There are also reports that children have died while being held in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s care.
“It always helps to put eyes on the problem,” the Johnson City lawmaker told reporters during a conference call Thursday. “It will give me an idea of how significant the problem is.”
Roe joined his Republican colleagues in the House earlier this week in voting against a $4.5 billion supplemental funding bill to address what both parties are now calling a “humanitarian crisis” at the border. The congressman said he planned to vote for a “bipartisan” funding bill that passed 84-8 in the Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday.
That legislation removed provisions that Democrats attached to the House bill to hold the Trump administration more accountable for the conditions at the immigrant facilities. The House version also contained no money for construction of a border wall.
The Senate’s $4.6 billion supplemental spending bill funds $2.88 billion for U.S. Health and Human Services to provide safe care for immigrant children in federal custody, as well as $1.1 billion for Customs and Border Patrol to establish additional care and processing facilities.
House members followed Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lead Thursday afternoon and voted to pass the Senate’s version of the border aid package without restrictions.
Roe said Customs and Border Patrol facilities like those in McAllen,Texas, are simply being “overwhelmed.” He said “we don’t have enough beds” to handle the number of immigrants being held at the centers.
Roe also told reporters Thursday he was pleased to see President Donald Trump sign the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act into law.
”Hallelujah,” the congressman said. “How long have we been trying to do this?”
The measure extends disability benefits to veterans who served on Navy ships off the coast of Vietnam. It allows former sailors and Marines to receive compensation for diseases caused by exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
The issue has been debated in Congress for more than a decade.
“I take pride in never giving up,” Roe said.