President Biden could not have created a worse situation if he had tried.
Recently, I traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border with a delegation of Republican senators. Revisiting the border underscored what I already knew: President Biden has lost control of the situation. In the previous administration, President Trump reined in the national security and humanitarian crisis, demonstrating that strong border policy works.
By halting deportations, expanding “catch and release,” and resisting the “Remain in Mexico” policy, President Biden told the world we have an open border. He could not have created a worse situation if he had tried.
The Border Spirals Out of Control
President Biden’s continued disregard for the crisis threatens national security. I spoke with local, state, and federal officials about the real-world consequences.
On the first night in Texas, I joined Border Patrol agents as they apprehended individuals and families sneaking across the border. Those arrests are drops in the bucket compared to the one million encounters officials have already experienced in 2023. This year’s encounter rate outpaces that of 2022, which outpaced that of 2021. The chaotic situation may get even worse on May 11th when Title 42, a COVID-era policy limiting immigration in a public health emergency, ends.
Border officials face incursions from the ground and from the skies. Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Gloria Chavez told our delegation that Mexican cartels use drones to surveil the Border Patrol, violating U.S. airspace 10,000 times in 2022. Meanwhile, the Border Patrol’s fleet of surveillance blimps is dwindling and needs replenishment.
One of the most startling things I heard came from a border agent who said his office has never heard from Vice President Harris – or her staff – even though President Biden deputized her to solve our immigration challenges. This is the latest example of the Biden administration failing to take the crisis seriously – something I have urged them to do. If the administration refuses to do simple things, like staying in contact with border officials, there is little hope for progress.
The Crisis Hurts the Vulnerable
Spending time at the border also highlighted the human cost of the crisis. On the south side of the border, cartels reign. They traffic guns, drugs, and even humans, creating a dangerous environment for migrants and locals. On the trip, I also learned most female migrants are, tragically, victims of violence as they move north to the border.
The effects of the crisis are not limited to border towns. Because of the cartels, Mexico has surpassed China as the top originator of the fentanyl found all over the United States. Today, it is the leading cause of death among American adults ages 18-42. I grieve with the many Mississippi communities that have lost loved ones to this§ dangerous drug.
Good Policies Can Heal This Self-Inflicted Wound
Border officials know the situation better than anyone, and they agree our approach is not working. They urge us to enforce our existing laws, reinstate proven policies, and equip our Border Patrol to do what they do best.
I have called on President Biden to fund the border wall – a project with bipartisan history. He should also obey the courts and enforce the “Remain in Mexico” policy, a program that worked well under the Trump administration.
Finally, it is time to support the Border Patrol. They need upgraded surveillance capabilities, less time at the desk, and more time on the beat.
This border crisis is the Biden administration’s self-inflicted wound. It is an avoidable problem President Biden has the power to fix. To get started, he should return to the policies that worked just two years ago.