By Sen. John Thune
There is an undeniable crisis at our southern border. So far this fiscal year, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has encountered more than 2 million illegal immigrants, far exceeding the Biden administration’s previous record, which it set last fiscal year. This doesn’t include known “gotaways,” immigrants who evaded apprehension after crossing the border – more than 1.1 million combined in the previous two fiscal years alone.
President Biden recently claimed he’s put a process in place to manage migrants and that he is working to make it safe, orderly, and humane. Conditions at the border contradict the president’s claim, as well as his vice president and appointed border czar’s recent assertion that the border is secure. Border Patrol is overwhelmed, local police departments are stretched thin, and border facilities and private shelters are beyond capacity. One Texas sheriff worries illegal immigrants may be released into communities with minimal or no screening because Border Patrol is so strained. This is especially concerning as convicted criminals, large shipments of drugs, and individuals on the terrorist watch list are known to be crossing the border.
Deaths at the southern border have surged under the Biden administration. The Department of Homeland Security reports 748 migrants have died crossing the border in fiscal year 2022, surpassing last year’s record. The number of CBP search and rescue missions have substantially increased as well. These conditions have resulted in the United Nations International Organization for Migration declaring the U.S.-Mexico border “the deadliest land crossing in the world.”
The situation at the border is neither safe, orderly, nor humane. It is also clear the border is not secure. An illegal immigrant recently told a reporter, “Everybody believes that the border is open.” This is the message that President Biden’s immigration policies have conveyed since he first took office more than 20 months ago. The longer this inaction continues, the more individuals will be encouraged to attempt the dangerous journey across the southern border.
For months, as this crisis raged, Democrats have downplayed and outright ignored it. Democrats recently shoved their massive spending package through the Senate, containing hundreds of billions of dollars for Green New Deal priorities, but zero resources for addressing the border crisis. Republicans offered multiple proposals to provide resources to secure the border, but Democrats unanimously rejected all of them.
It was not until recently, when border-state governors began sending some illegal immigrants to places like New York City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., to alleviate their overstretched communities that there was a sudden and predictable outcry from Democrats who accused these governors of manufacturing a crisis. Washington, D.C., a city of 700,000 people, declared a state of emergency and requested federal resources when they received about 9,400 migrants over five months. New York City, with 8.4 million residents, has not received as many as the nation’s capital. Eagle Pass, Texas – population: 29,000 – sees 10,000 migrants each week. Where is the real crisis?
The situation at our southern border is appalling, but it’s preventable. If the president has any real interest in making it “safe, orderly, and humane,” he would make border security a priority. His record so far suggests it’s more likely we’ll see the scenes of chaos and human suffering continue.