Since last October, over 500,000 illegal immigrants have been apprehended at our southern border, many of them having traveled through Mexico from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
About 200,000 of those illegal immigrants were single adults, another 330,000 were part of family units, and over 56,000 of them were unaccompanied children.
In May alone, Customs and Border Protection apprehended over 144,000 people coming through the southern border. If that pace continues, we’re looking at nearly 2 million apprehensions in a single year. That is a staggering number of people for Texas and other border states to take in, and it’s depleting the resources of small communities.
Texas is being overwhelmed by the magnitude of illegal immigrants flooding into small communities. Due to inaction by Congress, these communities are left holding the bag on where the migrants will stay, how they will receive medical care, and where they will go when released.
Last week I visited the Rio Grande Valley and toured the Rio Grande Valley Centralized Processing Center, which is the largest immigration processing center in the United States. I also traveled to “Rincon Village,” which is ground zero for illegal border crossings near Mission, Texas. What I saw there was staggering.
In 2014 – just five years ago – only 2 percent of adult men crossing illegally into the Rio Grande Valley had a child with them. Today that number is roughly 50 percent. The word is out among traffickers, smugglers, and others seeking to illegally enter the United States that coming with a child is a free pass at our border.
One idea I’ve raised for securing the border involves using El Chapo’s criminally forfeited fortune to build a border wall.
I also learned that a recent pilot program used rapid DNA tests to discover whether these family units were real. Nearly 30 percent were found to be fraudulent – in other words, the adults weren’t related to the children. Many of those kids experience horrific physical and sexual abuse, and there are far too many reports of children being rented or sold to help traffickers and smugglers cross the border.
In response to the massive numbers of illegal immigrants coming through the border, 60 percent of Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley are helping to process and care for family units.
Only 40 percent of Border Patrol agents are now dedicated to border security, further exacerbating the problem. They’ve canceled their horseback patrol on the border. Instead, in just the last week, Border Patrol agents in the Valley made 30 trips to the hospital each day, and 12 people died.
This is a security and humanitarian crisis. It’s an emergency. And Texans see it firsthand every single day.
Now more than ever, Democrats in Congress need to finally do their jobs and work with Republicans and President Trump to secure our border.
One idea I’ve raised for securing the border involves using El Chapo’s criminally forfeited fortune to build a border wall. To that end, I’ve introduced the EL CHAPO Act, which would reserve money and assets forfeited as a result of the criminal prosecution of El Chapo and other drug kingpins for building a border wall and securing our border.
I’m also a cosponsor of the WALL Act, which would fully fund the border wall by closing loopholes that provide illegal immigrants with federal benefits and tax credits, without affecting the benefits and tax credits used by Americans.
These bills are two commonsense ways to secure our border. Everyone should support taking money from murderers, drug smugglers, and human traffickers like El Chapo and using it to prevent murder, drug smuggling, and human trafficking – all without costing American taxpayers one dime.
The Senate should also take up and pass legislation closing loopholes in our asylum system, increasing the number of immigration judges, and providing expedited processing for asylum claims so that those who do not qualify for asylum can be quickly returned to their home countries instead of being released into the United States.
These are necessary reforms that need to happen. Democrats in Congress must acknowledge this reality and work with Republicans and President Trump to reform our broken immigration system. It’s irresponsible, it’s unjust, and it’s heartless to ignore this ongoing crisis.
I will continue to work tirelessly in Congress to convince my Democratic colleagues that we have a serious crisis on the border, and that they need to work with Republicans and take action now.