President BidenJoe BidenMcAuliffe holds slim lead over Youngkin in Fox News poll Biden signs bill to raise debt ceiling On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan MORE's Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasJohns Hopkins to launch degree program in cybersecurity and policy The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - New front in mandate wars; debt bill heads to Biden DHS to end workplace raids, shift focus to employers over undocumented workers MORE, recently told Congress, "The border is secure." The facts indicate that his statement was an absolute lie. The Biden administration has a clear track record of embracing policies to open the southern border, not secure it, and continues to move forward with more policies that will only increase the number of people trying to illegally enter the country. The reality is that these open border policies have created one of the worst border crises in history.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), this August alone 208,887 people were apprehended trying to illegally enter our country through the southern border, which is a 317 percent increase from last August. And, since February of 2021, the agency says more than 1.2 million people have been apprehended illegally crossing the border. That staggering statistic represents more than the entire population of either Pasco or Pinellas counties, which I represent.
When I was at the border a few months ago, the CBP agents I spoke with made it clear that they weren’t even making a dent when it came to capturing the historic number of people who are illegally entering our country or with seizing the extraordinary volume of drugs that are flowing across the border. That is truly unfathomable when you consider that CBP has seized 724 lbs. of fentanyl and 595 lbs. of heroin so far in fiscal year 2021. Additionally, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) recently warned about the spike in counterfeit pills with lethal doses of fentanyl being circulated throughout the U.S. Most of these pills are being produced in Mexico and trafficked across the border. These deadly drugs don’t just stay in communities along the border, they are spread throughout the country…into communities like mine in Tampa Bay. These drugs are ruining and claiming countless lives. In fact, Florida currently ranks second in the nation for overdose deaths. These are our neighbors who are dying. We have to take action now. In addition to drugs and weapons, humans are being trafficked through the border. Human traffickers are making an estimated $15 million dollars a day. I am concerned for these victims, many of whom are children.
The root causes of this crisis are clear: President Biden’s disastrous immigration policies are to blame. His administration stopped building the wall, brought back catch and release, and tried to get rid of the Remain in Mexico policy — which required that asylum seekers wait outside the U.S. while their cases are decided. We know that the alternative to the Remain in Mexico policy is the Do As You Please policy, since a high number of those who are permitted to remain in the U.S. while waiting for their hearings never show up for their day in court. Fortunately in August, the United States Supreme Court ruled the administration had to immediately re-implement the Remain in Mexico policy. However, despite the ruling, the administration announced on Friday that it will be crafting a memo to rescind this effective policy. This announcement coincided with Department of Homeland Security warning about the possibility of 350,000 to 400,000 illegal border apprehensions in October. The agency believes the spike will occur if the administration moves forward with its plans to eliminate Title 42, another key border security policy from the Trump era. We have never recorded that many illegal apprehensions in a single month. To make matters worse, the president himself has actually articulated a new openness toward illegal migrants — something the leaders of Central America point to as a root cause of the crisis they are seeing.
The situation at the border is a dangerous, unmitigated disaster. Especially now, as our enemies feel emboldened by what recently transpired in Afghanistan, we have to secure our border as a matter of national security.
Bilirakis represents the 12th District of Florida.