FederalImmigration & BorderIssuesRio Grande Valley Patrol Chief Says Border Agents Lack ‘Capacity’ to Detain All Illegal Immigrants

Congressman Tony Gonzales contended there is “danger” in requiring Customs and Border Protection to keep all illegal aliens in detention.
February 14, 2023
Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Chief Gloria Chavez testified in a congressional hearing last week that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) lacks the “level of capacity” to detain the volume of illegal immigrants and others coming across the border.

Chavez agreed with Congressman Tony Gonzales (R-TX-23) that “repatriation flights” are an effective tool to deter illegal border crossings. Gonzales referenced the surge of Haitian illegal immigrants in the Del Rio sector in September 2021, which was followed by the U.S. government deporting thousands back to Haiti.

However, Gonzales also steered the conversation to a sore point in the Republican caucus.

“Does the Border Patrol currently have the capacity to permanently house all migrants for the entire length of their asylum process?” Gonzales asked.

“Absolutely not, congressman. We do not have that level of capacity in our facilities,” Chavez said.

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“It currently takes five years for an asylum case to be heard, sometimes longer depending on what part of the country,” Gonzales replied. “That is the danger of an agency like yours that is meant to catch terrorists, fentanyl, real time situations, and putting you into processing centers.”

Chavez later added, “Manpower and technology makes a huge difference in order for us to secure that border.”

The Biden administration has come under fire for releasing illegal immigrants into the U.S. using methods such as humanitarian parole. In fact, Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX-21) introduced a bill that would require the Department of Homeland Security to either detain or remove anyone seeking asylum in the U.S. Roy contends his H.R. 29 merely reinforces existing law.

Meanwhile, Gonzales contends that bill effectively “bans asylum” even when there is a valid case to be made. Democrats repeated his interpretation of Roy’s bill in a different congressional hearing held earlier this month.

Gonzales has been on the receiving end of criticism by many in his own party for breaking with his Republican colleagues on issues such as gay marriage and border security. The Medina County Republican Party passed documents censuring Gonzales last week; however, they have no real effect unless adopted by the state party.

Chavez was appointed to be the Rio Grande Valley sector’s chief after serving in the same position in the El Paso sector. She took office October 7.

Congresswoman Monica De La Cruz (R-TX-15), who is serving her first term, recently congratulated Chavez on her appointment.

“I welcome Chief Chavez to this new position and welcome her home to the Rio Grande Valley,” De La Cruz said in a news release last week. “I also want to thank her for nearly three decades of dedicated service to our community and our nation. She is a true servant leader and an example to young women who aspire to serve and lead.”


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."