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Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, visits Casa Del Migrante on Aug. 2, one day before Walmart shooting.

COURTESY PHOTO - Rep. Earl Blumenauer visited border facilities in Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas during a two-day trip with other members of the U.S. House. Rep. Earl Blumenauer returned from a tour of border facilities in El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico on Aug. 2 with a solution-oriented message for his constituents in Oregon.

"These people who are refugees ought to be given due process. More fundamentally, we ought to be working to make sure that people are not forced to flee their homes," Blumenauer told the Tribune.

The next day, tragedy struck.

A mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart left 22 dead and scores more injured — with the suspect's motivation linked to an anti-Hispanic manifesto describing immigration as an "invasion." The FBI is investigating the Aug. 3 massacre as domestic terrorism and as a possible hate crime.

In its wake, Blumenauer organized an impromptu rally at his district office.

"Enough is enough," he said, calling on the U.S. Senate to take up legislation that passed the house in February, which would require near universal background checks for gun sales.

"We confronted the horrors of two more tragedies America has seen at the hands of hate, white supremacy and gun violence," the congressman continued. "Yet, Mitch McConnell refuses to do anything about it and Trump continues to spew hate and incentivize violence."



Border conditions

About 20 U.S. House members attended the two-day fact-finding mission on both sides of the southern border.

Blumenauer said conditions were not overly crowded during his visit at Casa Del Migrante, a refugee shelter in Ciudad Juarez, though he witnessed long lines at the official border crossing.

Indeed, the situation has shifted. The creation of the Migrant Protection Protocols earlier this year has directed roughly 17,000 to remain in Mexico while awaiting their turn in U.S. immigration courts, including 8,000 near Juarez.

In Blumenauer's mind, the new rules have simply "shifted the misery out of sight."

"We spend all this time and money trying to make their lives as miserable as possible," he said. "And despite what Trump and his minions claim, the vast majority of the people show up, on time, where they're supposed to, to their (court) hearings."

While the 70-year-old has long echoed calls from his party's left wing to disband ICE, and voted against the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, his latest bid is a resolution that would require an on-the-record vote of support or repudiation of President Donald Trump's border policies.

Blumenauer thinks that House Resolution 499 will have a better chance of getting a floor vote, now that "there will be 20 more people sharing their stories."


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