Last month I joined a group of Republican senators visiting our southern border to see the crisis unfolding there for ourselves.
The Biden administration has refused to call the chaos at the border a “crisis” – they’ve called it a “situation,” a “challenge,” or, at a recent press briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, a “circumstance.”
Well, I’ve seen it for myself, and I can say confidently: This is a crisis, and the cause is President Biden’s policies.
The Biden administration, for purely political reasons, is trying to undo everything the previous administration did at the border. As someone who has spent his life building a business in my hometown, not in politics, this looks to me like a classic case of fixing something that wasn’t broken.
First, President Biden halted construction on the border wall, sending a strong message to Mexico and Central America that if they are planning to come, now is the time. I talked to Border Patrol agents on the ground who told me that the wall was the single biggest factor for them to be able to stretch their resources to secure the border.
President Biden and Democrats promised legal status and an eight year “path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants: essentially, open borders with an eight-year fuse. As a result, the surge at the border is the worst we’ve seen in 20 years.
I accompanied the Border Patrol on a night shift along the Rio Grande. From across the river, we could see bright lights and heard men heckling Border Patrol.
An agent who spoke Spanish told me the lights were from human smugglers, known as “coyotes,” who traffic migrants across the border illegally for a fee – sometimes as much as $4,000 per person they sneak across.
I asked the agent what they were yelling at us. They were saying: “We’re going to keep coming.”
On the border, I saw what a record number of minors in U.S. detention looked like. I saw people being sheltered under an overpass and was told by a Biden administration official to delete the photos I took of a detention center from my phone.
President Biden’s policy to accept all unaccompanied minors rather than returning them to their home countries put out a message to families in Central America and Mexico to send their children on the dangerous trek to the border.
For those inaccurately claiming these are natural yearly fluctuations like President Biden at his recent press conference, in the last ten years the highest number of unaccompanied minors apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at the southwestern border in March was 8,956 in 2019. By March 20 this year, they’d already apprehended 11,000.
Border Patrol has reported a 61% increase in unaccompanied minors at the southwestern border between January and February of this year, and they now project the number in U.S. custody could further rise from “16,000 this month to as many as 26,000 in September.” And unaccompanied minors present only a percentage of the 100,000 people now attempting to cross the border each month.
Our system is at its breaking point due to these bad policies and incentives, and our brave men and women of Border Patrol who work day and night to keep drugs from our streets, stop human traffickers and keep our border secure simply can’t keep up.
An open southern border is a humanitarian crisis, a health crisis, and a dire national security threat that affects every Hoosier. President Biden needs to take down the “Welcome” sign his administration has put up and secure the border.