Rep. Matt Gaetz: Trump crackdown on illegal immigration succeeding – America benefits

The Border Patrol arrest numbers for August show that while the illegal immigration crisis persists, there can be no dispute that the strategy of President Trump and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan is working.

August at America’s southern border is usually hot and dry, with two notable exceptions: hurricanes and a flood of people entering America illegally. Now the flood has finally begun to recede.

Under McAleenan’s watch, Border Patrol officers carried out 64,000 apprehensions in August – a whopping 56 percent decline from May’s 133,000 apprehensions, and down from July’s 72,000. Equally notable is the fact that this is the first time in five years that border apprehensions have decreased during summer months.

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It is comforting to see the Trump administration animated with a bold plan to secure our border and protect our nation.

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First, more than 60 miles of wall have been built on the most vulnerable parts of our border, with 500 more miles projected for construction by the end of 2020. The number of apprehensions has dropped because every mile of wall makes it harder and harder to get into America illegally.

Second, thanks to President Trump’s threat of tariffs, Mexico has converted from a turnstile for human traffickers into a security partner. Mexico has agreed to expand migrant protection laws, which allow asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while their cases progress.

Thanks to President Trump’s leadership – and despite Democrats’ absolute unwillingness to help – the crisis at our border is slowly lessening.

Over 40,000 asylum seekers are now waiting in Mexico, which means they haven’t been released into our country. Mexico has made nearly 134,000 apprehensions of illegal immigrants in its own country since agreeing to work with the United States, and this has helped reduce stress on our own border facilities. Mexico has listened to the author of “The Art of the Deal” and is even building a wall.

Third, the Trump administration has led unprecedented engagement with the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. McAleenan personally secured commitments from these nations to do more and do better. They are finally making clear to their citizens that entering America is not the guaranteed “golden ticket” that it was only a few short years ago.

Fourth, McAleenan announced last month a new rule on the Flores Settlement Agreement. His rule will help to keep families together, and increase the standards of care for unaccompanied minors. Most importantly, the new rule will end the decades-old policy of “catch and release,” which has allowed countless illegal entrants to stay in the United States permanently, and which makes a mockery of our immigration laws.

We’ve all seen heartbreaking pictures of children in squalid, overcrowded conditions – especially during the Obama administration. Thanks to the Trump-McAleenan strategy, conditions at border facilities are rapidly improving.

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Finally, more than 1,000 Border Patrol officers have been hired and they are stationed at America’s legal ports of entry. The brave men and women of Customs and Border Protection have answered the call to protect our great nation and uphold our country’s laws.

When I went to the border in April the scene was sobering. Our detention facilities were overcrowded and our Border Patrol agents were overworked to the point of exhaustion.

Since then, the Trump administration has taken significant steps to keep families together, to reduce the wait time in holding centers to an average of 19 hours, and to deploy cutting-edge technology to monitor the most vulnerable sections of our border.

Thanks to President Trump’s leadership – and despite Democrats’ absolute unwillingness to help – the crisis at our border is slowly lessening.

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Congress isn’t off the hook. We must reform asylum laws, pass E-verify, ban sanctuary cities and build more border wall. America deserves bipartisan cooperation to get it done.

Past administrations neglected their constitutional duty, refusing to uphold and enforce our nation’s laws. President Trump is different. He is taking bold, decisive actions to keep America safe and secure – and the numbers prove that his strategy is working!

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