U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber: Border crisis is Biden's to fix now
178,622. That's how many migrants U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered at the nation's southern border in April alone — the highest number on record in more than 20 years.
Illegal immigration has long been a serious issue, but since the beginning of this year, the situation at the southern border has become a full-blown humanitarian and national security crisis. Unfortunately, this crisis at the border is no coincidence.
Upon taking office, President Joe Biden implemented a radical rollback of Trump-era immigration controls. He halted construction of the border wall, abolished the successful "Remain in Mexico" policy, and issued new rules to constrain Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and limit deportations.
In doing so, the Biden administration sent a clear message: You are welcome to enter our nation illegally, and those who do will not be sent back. Biden's dangerous message is motivating more migrants to make the perilous journey to the border and emboldening cartels to move their illicit operations further into this country.
Recently, I traveled to El Paso, Texas, to see this humanitarian and national security crisis firsthand. Having visited the border only two years ago, I found it eye-opening to see just how out of control this situation has become.
This year, when the Biden administration announced the border would now be open for unaccompanied minors, border patrol agents saw a significant uptick of children arriving there. Only adding to the dangers of this journey, traffickers and drug cartels are being paid significant sums of money to get these kids to the border.
These traffickers do not care about the safety of the children, who are regularly left unfed, with no healthy drinking water, and who often become the victims of sexual assault. Rape is so common on the journey north that young girls are frequently given birth control by their families before they leave.
During a tour of an unaccompanied minor facility, we learned about the difficulty managing this record surge in unaccompanied minors and how one facility alone reportedly holds 20,000 children.
It is not just the children who suffer. At a fourth-generation pecan farm located on the border, I spoke to farmers who told heartbreaking stories of helping migrants in need: desperate for work, living on sewer water, abandoned and severely injured.
At the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry, I listened to Customs and Border Protection describe the frightening increase in drug trafficking. So far, Customs and Border Protection seized more fentanyl in 2021 than in all of 2020.
During a visit to the El Paso Section, which is the third busiest segment of the border, we saw firsthand how easy it is to enter this country. The El Paso Section comprises 150 miles of the border, but with only 133 miles of completed wall. Where the wall opens, a daily average of 600 to 900 migrants illegally enter this country. There has been a 25% increase in assaults on agents, and these assaults are more likely to happen where there isn't a secure barrier.
Biden and many of my Democratic colleagues in Congress would have you believe that their immigration policies are more compassionate than those of the previous administration. This could not be further from the truth.
It is not compassionate to encourage desperate parents to send their children on a risky journey where they could be raped or killed. It is not compassionate to ignore the influx of drugs and dangerous crime entering our communities. And it is not compassionate to disregard the needs of law enforcement bravely patrolling our borders.
The crisis at our southern border continues to deteriorate, so it is past time for the Biden administration and my Democratic colleagues in Congress to actually recognize it as a crisis and work with Republicans on common-sense solutions. We can begin by providing border agents with the tools, technology and infrastructure needed to secure our border. Yes, this includes a border wall in more populous areas.
Failure to do so will continue to be catastrophic.