Members of the U.S. Congress have met with some of their counterparts from Mexico to discuss the crossing of the border by children from Central America.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II talks with an official during his visit to facilities dealing with children who have been streaming into the U.S. from Central American countries.  (Courtesy; office of Congressman Cleaver)

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II talks with an official during his visit to facilities dealing with children who have been streaming into the U.S. from Central American countries. (Courtesy; office of Congressman Cleaver)

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (D) has led a delegation of the two countries’ lawmakers to the U.S.-Mexican border where they saw some of the thousands of children that have traveled without their parents, from throughout Central America, to cross into the U.S.

They visited the Hidalgo International Bridge, the McAllen Border Patrol Station in McAllen, Texas and a Health and Human Services facility for the children.

The Wall Street Journal reports the daily rate at which children are being caught along the U.S.-Mexico border has declined from about 350 in May and June to about 104 in August, suggesting fewer children are attempting the crossing.

Cleaver saw some of those children during his time in Texas.

“Their eyes,” the Congressman tells Missourinet. “It is one of the most tragic things I have ever seen.”

“If you can imagine a 13-year-old boy … going through the trail of fears with a 4-year-old sister, and the mother loving these kids so much that she’s willing to save money for two or three years to give a coyote $5,000 to bring their kids across the border,” Cleaver says. “What unfortunately is happening in many cases, some of the little girls are picked off and sold into sex slavery, and I found out … a number of the boys have been sexually molested. It’s just awful.”

“It has nothing to do with amnesty, it has nothing to do with immigration,” says Cleaver. “It has to do with the spirit of our country, which I think has always been to help those who are wounded.”

“There are many, many wounded people in this neighborhood.”

Cleaver says the U.S. must recognize its role in causing the current border crisis. He says those children are fleeing many things, including drug gangs who are fighting with guns that came from the U.S.

“We sell the guns, we buy the drugs, and then we, in some instances, don’t want to deal with the fallout, which is the humanitarian crisis of all of these children,” says Cleaver. “We are the customers that [the gangs] are fighting over.”

Cleaver says he discussed not just what could be done at the U.S.-Mexican border, but also how the U.S. can play a role in what happens at Mexico’s southern border, with Guatemala.

“Which is where what I call the ‘Trail of Fears’ begins,” says Cleaver. “It has created one of the most awful things that’s happened in our neighborhood in a while.”

Cleaver stresses that word, “neighborhood,” and says the U.S. must think of itself as being in the neighborhood of the Western Hemisphere.

“I think the crisis on the border has demonstrated that as well as anything,” says Cleaver. “The reason I say that is that, what happens in Honduras has impacted what happens in Houston, because many of the unaccompanied minors have ended up in Houston.”

Cleaver wants to see more judges along the border and more Health and Human Services staff, so that children coming to the U.S. can more quickly be assessed for either deportation or admittance into the country. He also says U.S. and Mexican officials need to work together to create a system by which children seeking asylum can go to the U.S. embassy.

The members of Congress who were part of the meeting in Texas report back to House leadership, the President and some members of his Cabinet. They plan to meet again in the fall and to invite government leaders from the Central American countries the children are fleeing.