Texas Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar delivered emotional remarks Thursday afternoon on the House floor and called for a moment of silence in the chamber for migrants who have died trying to reach America.
Other progressives stood alongside Escobar as her voice broke while recalling a widely circulated shocking photograph of Salvadorans Oscar Alberto Martinez and his daughter Angie Valeria, who drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande. Everyone in the chamber — Republican and Democrat — stood for the duration of her remarks and then for the moment of silence.
“The photograph that all of us saw this week should tear all of us up,” said the congresswoman form Texas’ 16th Congressional District, which includes El Paso.
“For those of us who are parents, to see a toddler with her little arms wrapped around the neck of her father,” Escobar said, adding “there is nothing that we wouldn’t do for our children, nothing, to give them a better life.”
“Oscar and Valeria represent tens of thousands of migrants who have died as they have tried to build a better life for themselves, only to find that they are demonized and locked out of the promise that those of us who are natural born citizens are so fortunate to enjoy,” Escobar said.
“In their name, let us never forget their sacrifice and the sacrifice that so many parents make for the most vulnerable among us,” Escobar said.
Escobar’s remarks came shortly after Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday the House will “reluctantly” pass the Senate’s version of a border funding bill, writing in a letter to her caucus, “The children come first.” The House passed the bill Thursday evening by a vote of 305-102.
“At the end of the day, we have to make sure that the resources needed to protect the children are available,” Pelosi wrote.
Pelosi’s announcement marked a reversal from her previous calls to reconcile the two bills to address the humanitarian crisis at the US southern border ahead of the Fourth of July recess, and was met by outrage and an outpouring of emotion on the House floor from progressives.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer displayed an enlarged version of the same photograph the day prior on the Senate floor. He urged President Donald Trump to look “look at this photo” and said these were not criminals or drug dealers, but instead people who were “simply fleeing a horrible situation in their home country for a better life.”