Inside the Border Crisis

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Washington, June 7, 2019 | comments

WASHINGTON — America’s southern border is at a breaking point.

I recently joined my colleagues, Congressmen Michael Cloud of Texas and Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin, in traveling to the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo sectors of the Lone Star State in order to get an up-close and personal view of this crisis. And let me be clear: It is a crisis.

This trip was certainly eye-opening, and it’s obvious that criminal cartels in both Mexico and Central America are maintaining an outsized influence in the region as they profit from the exploitation of migrants.

We know cartels profit from smuggling humans and drugs into the United States. They also siphon oil from pipelines, extort families and businesses, and kidnap for financial gain. South of the border, their corruption sways government and law enforcement officials, hindering the development of these nations, and their brutality has led to about 150,000 homicides in Mexico alone since 2006.

With illegal immigration surging to the highest levels since 2014, our agents have been suffering from two major pressure points: They’re overwhelmed and understaffed.

In the first four months of 2019, Customs and Border Patrol agents have apprehended almost 350,000 illegal aliens, with more than 109,000 apprehensions in April alone. Our lack of security not only allows these criminal cartels to expand their presence at our borders, but it also impedes any chance of positive change in these developing countries.

The influx of illegal immigration is staggering, but it’s also important to know who is being apprehended. Ten or 15 years ago, most illegal immigrants who were apprehended were single, young, Mexican males crossing for economic reasons. They were easily and quickly returned to their home countries and did not present the complex humanitarian or health issues we are currently facing.

Today, the types of individuals apprehended are increasingly Central American families and unaccompanied alien children (UAC), mainly from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. This shift to more vulnerable populations, combined with overwhelming numbers, has led to a profound emergency on the border.

With the information we learned on this congressional delegation trip and seeing this crisis firsthand, it’s clear we need a comprehensive immigration plan that recognizes safety and security of American citizens, as well as the humanity and dignity of the people seeking a better life in our country.

I’m hopeful that members of Congress can come together to find a solution that includes strategic placement of the wall, proper investment in personnel and resources to process families crossing into our country, and better technology to secure our border as part of an all-of-the-above approach to our immigration system.

The time is now.

Published in the Walton Tribune on Monday, June 10, 2019.

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