Some 93,000 Cubans have flooded across the border in the last two years, 26,000 in the past six months, and are mostly given a pass to stay in the United States, according to a border Democratic House member.

Rep. Henry Cuellar, discussing immigration challenges at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing Thursday, urged the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to try to stop the flood before the Cubans reach the border.

"I am one of the Democrats who believe in immigration reform but I still want to see law and order at the border," he told ICE Director Sarah Saldana.

His district is the main thoroughfare for Cubans seeking to enter the U.S. and claim special diplomatic status granted in federal law. Officials expect more to rush the border, fearing that new U.S.-Cuba relations will end the easy legalization practice and force them to enter through the longer, legal process other immigrants are supposed to follow.

His numbers of Cuban border crossers: 24,000 in fiscal year 2014, 43,000 in fiscal 2015, and 26,000 this year.

"We play defense on the one yard line. The more we can play defense on the 20 yard line," said Cuellar, "the better it is because otherwise they get to the border and they come in and they get to stay, quite honestly."

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at