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Wittman's Weekly: Biden's Border Crisis
Washington, March 19, 2021
I am deeply concerned with what I am seeing at our southern border. According to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), migrant encounters along the southern border were up 28% since January and are up 173% since last year. Not only adults but also children. CBP expects about 13,000 unaccompanied migrant children by May and 117,000 children by the end of the year. The number of unaccompanied children has grown so much that recent reporting states, "shelters overseen by the U.S. government received more than 7,000 migrant children in February." The number of unaccompanied children held in custody for more than three days is so great that they are "overwhelming capacity at border facilities and indicating a crisis is taking shape." It's official – this is a crisis.
The Biden Administration’s executive actions and policies have incentivized illegal behavior, don’t prioritize the needs of America’s economy or pandemic response, and have led to this crisis on the border. The surge we are seeing is a direct result of open border policies, including President Biden’s executive orders weakening border security, virtually eliminating enforcement of immigration laws, putting a moratorium on deportations, and promising amnesty to all undocumented immigrants residing in the country illegally.
What’s more, the Biden Administration has overturned policies that have proven successful, including the Migrant Protection Protocols, which required asylum seekers to wait for their hearings in border facilities in Central America, rather than being released inside the country. The Biden Administration also ended the asylum agreements President Trump negotiated with Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, which required asylum seekers to remain in the first safe country they enter — the prevailing standard for asylum seekers in the European Union and in Canada.
Instead, President Biden replaced these policies with the Obama-era process of "catch and release," where illegal aliens claiming asylum are detained, processed and released inside the United States as they await their hearing — which usually takes years. Illegal immigration, mass amnesty, and porous borders are irreparably damaging to our legal immigration system. Clearly, our current immigration system is broken, and we need strong, serious changes to our current laws. Congress must step in to address this crisis.
We need an immigration system that works for the American people. First and foremost, we need to deter people from coming to our country illegally. Secondly, we must enhance our border security. A physical barrier would deter those attempting to enter the country illegally, while also helping direct those seeking asylum to the proper points of entry.
Furthermore, we must increase integrity in our asylum system. Thousands of inadmissible migrants arrive at our border every day and overwhelm our immigration system, many of whom are seeking asylum. Only a small minority of these individuals, however, are ultimately granted asylum and the large number of meritless asylum claims places an extraordinary strain on our immigration system and undermines many of the humanitarian purposes of asylum, making vulnerable people who actually qualify for asylum wait longer for that protection. We must promote transparency and fairness in the asylum system by requiring the Department of Homeland Security to establish quality assurance procedures for credible fear of persecution interviews.
Lastly, we need to invest in our Border Patrol agents and law enforcement officers. We have the laws on the books— we must ensure that our nation’s current immigration laws are enforced, immigration programs work properly, and that we provide the resources for law enforcement officials to get their jobs done. We must hire additional immigration judges and support staff, hire additional Border Patrol agents, and increase Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel.
America was built by immigrants, and immigrants continue to play an undeniably important role in America today. But those seeking to enter the United States must do so legally. We are a nation of laws and we must continue to keep America safe. Our first responsibility is to protect the American people's safety and security, and I believe we will be able to do that by adequately addressing these critical provisions.