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East Bay congressman sits in on immigration hearing

An East Bay congressman took part in a hearing in which Texas' governor asked the White House to help with the immigration crisis.
Thursday, July 03, 2014
An East Bay congressman was at a U.S. House Homeland Security Committee hearing in South Texas on Thursday about the humanitarian crisis from an overwhelming flood of unaccompanied child immigrants.

On Thursday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry addressed the group and answered questions. Rep. Eric Swalwell from Pleasanton was also there. He says before leaving, he wants to be part of the solution.

The hearing, in Mcallen, Texas, is called "Crisis on the Texas Border: Surge of Unaccompanied Minors."

As tensions rise over the nation's immigration crisis, Gov. Perry delivered a message directly to Pres. Barack Obama.

"Secure this border, Mr. President," said Perry.

During the hearing, only miles from the Mexico border, the governor asked that undocumented immigrants flooding into the U.S. be detained and sent back immediately.

"Allowing them to remain here will only encourage the next group of individuals," Perry said.

More than 52,000 children have been picked up along the southern border; most without their parents and most from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul says the conditions in those countries has not changed, but White House policies have.

"Such unilateral actions and failed policies, in my judgment, have caused this dire situation in the first place, and it could get worse, McCaul said. "The message these policies are sending: if you come, you can stay."

Facilities in Texas, attempting to house the influx of undocumented immigrants, are bursting at the seams.

So earlier this week, the border patrol flew dozens of them to California, which led to dramatic protests.

In the Southern California city of Murietta on Wednesday, demonstrators on both sides of the issue argued outside of a town hall meeting.

The day before, protesters succeeded in stopping three buses that were attempting to bring undocumented immigrants into Murietta. The buses were forced to reroute to San Diego.

Also on Thursday morning, we got our first look at new TV commercials designed to discourage illegal immigration. They'll be played here in the United States and in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

And the border patrol commissioner is personally warning Central American parents that the trip north has become more treacherous.

"If you cross illegally into the United States you are putting yourself and your children in grave danger," said CBP Commissioner Richard Gil Kerlikowske.

The border patrol is also launching radio spots and billboards designed to counter the notion that the underage immigrants, or those traveling with children, are getting a free pass in the United States.

It's a tough sell, however, since the overwhelming number of moms and kids coming across illegally have been allowed, within days, to take buses to be with family already in the United States.

If Congress doesn't act, Pres. Obama says he'll use his executive power to fix the problem.

For his part, Gov. Perry is asking for an increase in National Guard units at the Texas border.

(ABC News contributed to this report)
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