The crisis on our southern border is a self-inflicted disaster that the White House and congressional Democrats refuse to acknowledge. While they may not take this catastrophe seriously, my Republican colleagues on the House Oversight Committee do. That’s why we visited the border last month to see the situation for ourselves.
Our experience evoked a wide range of emotions: Heart breaking instances of young, unaccompanied children abandoned at the border. The fear and trauma of our citizens living along the border who are confronted with the drug and human trafficking operations of murderous cartels. The frustration of American citizens who feel their government has betrayed them.
What’s happening on our border is unprecedented. We are on track for more illegal border crossings in 2021 than any time in the past 15 years — perhaps ever. Illegal drug seizures this year are already up 600 percent compared to all of 2020. Migrant holding facilities are at several times their capacity, requiring the government to construct new facilities on military bases like Fort Bliss.
Border agents are being taken off patrols to address the exploding number of children, leaving huge swaths of the border unguarded. They still monitor large groups of so-called “get-aways”— illegal immigrants who swarm remote parts of the border but can’t be stopped due to a lack of manpower. When confronted, agents are required to report large groups as “20+.”
This January and February, there were over 61,000 reported “get-aways.” A staggering figure, but agents confirmed these groups are often much larger than just 20+. Some number 40, 60, many are as high as 80, but because they’re logged as “20+”, the reported totals are lower. Agents estimate the real number in January and February was probably closer to 120,000.
Left unchecked, we’re looking at 750,000 “get-aways” this year alone. These are not “asylum-seekers” surrendering at a crossing station. These are dangerous criminals, drug smugglers, human traffickers, and terrorists willing to do anything to get into America and do harm. This isn’t a border state problem — it’s an unfolding national disaster of unprecedented scope with terrible implications for years to come.
Yet the Biden administration and my colleagues across the aisle refuse to even acknowledge the problem. So far, neither the president nor vice president have bothered to visit the border.
We can stop this manufactured crisis.
First, we need to complete the border wall with the construction materials laying idle in the desert. President BidenJoe BidenPelosi sets Thursday vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill Pressure grows to cut diplomatic red tape for Afghans left behind President Biden is making the world a more dangerous place MORE used to think the border wall was a good idea. It’s time he stops cowing to the radical elements within his party and do what he knows is right.
Second, end the practice of “Catch and Release,” and reimplement the Migrant Protection Protocols that proved so successful in reducing the numbers of border incursions. Officials shared with us that only 10-12 percent of people who come here seeking asylum have legitimate cases and the rest are sent back. By requiring them to remain in Mexico while their asylum requests are adjudicated, the roughly 90 percent who know their cases are bogus won’t risk the journey. And those with legitimate cause to seek asylum will have it granted more expeditiously. That would be the humane course of action.
We are, indeed, a nation of immigrants. Many industries in Florida including agriculture, hospitality and construction, depend on a steady flow of legal immigrants in order to function. But for us to remain the world’s brightest beacon of hope, we must acknowledge that a fundamental part of what makes America so attractive is our adherence to the rule of law.
Honest, law abiding citizens like the Johnsons, the Coopers, and others we met at the border asked us to tell their story. But they also want our government to know they aren’t looking for special consideration. These are tough people who simply want the opportunity to live and work their land in peace and security without living in fear. They want to know we will not forget about them. We promised to share their story. We must not let them down.
Scott Franklin represents Florida’s 15th District and is a member of the Committee on Oversight and Reform.