By Rep. Gus Bilirakis
During his State of the Union Address, President Biden said, “We need to secure the border and fix the immigration system. It is not only the right thing to do, it’s the economically smart thing to do.” However, President Biden’s actions have not matched his words on this important subject.
He has yielded to radical fringe elements of his party and systematically repealed the strategies the previous Administration had used successfully to contain the situation. The results of these decisions have been disastrous. Since coming to office, more than 2.5 million illegal immigrants have been apprehended at the southern border. According to data compiled by U.S. Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) this marks the greatest influx of illegal immigrants in American history.
To put this crisis into proper context, President Obama’s former Homeland Security Secretary offered that 1,000 border encounters per day overwhelms the system and constitutes a severe crisis. In the past 12 months, we have seen the daily average rise from 5,000-7000 encounters per day, with over 9,000 encounters on March 28th and 29th of this year. Additionally, there were over 300,000 “known gotaways” in the past six months with 62,000 in the month of March alone.
Known “gotaways” are not included in the total number of reported illegal encounters and the CBP warns that the term is not comprehensive as the agency believes the true number of people illegally crossing without any CBP contact is likely much higher. Also of importance, 30% of those encountered at the border last month had been encountered by CBP at least once in the past 12 months.
And, 76% of those apprehended last month were single adults, which is an 11% increase from January of this year. These statistics demonstrate that people have clearly learned that under the Biden Administration’s failed border policies, there is no consequence for breaking American laws. Therefore, if at first they don’t succeed, they are encouraged to try, try again!
I am also troubled by the fact that while the total numbers of illegal encounters with CBP have risen significantly in the last 15 months, deportations have been dramatically reduced during the Biden tenure. So far, only 167,392 of those illegally crossing the border have been turned away, with another 59,011 being deported.
This means, 2.27 million illegal immigrants who have broken our laws and entered our country, remain here. They were all released without proper screening, monitoring, or follow-up to ensure they appear for their hearings. Also of significant concern is that the Biden Administration has arranged for flights and busloads of illegal immigrants to be shipped to communities throughout the country without any coordination with or notification to state and local officials. The vast majority of my constituents are outraged with this reckless decision.
As the grandchild of Greek immigrants, I understand the power of the American dream and the unique cultural, intellectual and economic contributions that have been made to our nation by people of all backgrounds who have immigrated to the United States legally. However, I believe in the rule of law. We cannot allow those who have broken our nation’s immigration laws to be rewarded.
We also cannot continue to ignore the horrific humanitarian strife and dangerous illegal activity occurring because of our open border policies. We have recently seen a huge spike in the amount of human and drug trafficking that is occurring at the southern border, with record amounts of deadly drugs, like fentanyl, flowing into the country. This is a humanitarian and public safety crisis of epic proportions that is claiming record numbers of American lives!
Instead of taking this crisis seriously and honoring the words he spoke during the State of the Union address, President Biden recently announced that on May 23rd, he will repeal another effective, Trump-era strategy that has been used to help deter illegal crossings. This tool is known as Title 42, and it protects our country by allowing officials to turn illegal immigrants away at the border. By abandoning this policy, the Biden Administration is further hampering the ability of CBP to do its job.
The Department of Homeland Security estimates 25,000 migrants are already waiting in shelters just south of the border for Title 42 to end and has been briefing its agents to expect a deluge of up to 18,000 border encounters per day after the policy’s elimination. We all saw the images on television at the Del Rio bridge last year when 15,000 daily migrants encounters overwhelmed our border patrol. Yet, this administration is knowingly creating conditions that will exceed our nation’s ability to effectively respond.
Simply put, revoking Title 42 will have catastrophic consequences for national security, exacerbating an already horrific situation by sending a clear message that the southern border is open to whomever would like to enter, regardless of their background or intentions…and despite the fact that coming through at-will is a violation of U.S. laws.
Vice-President Harris, who was named the Border Czar, said she is reviewing the root causes of this problem. There can be no confusion - the eruption at the border is the direct result of deliberate Biden Administration actions to degrade and dismantle border security for over a year. The situation is a humanitarian, security, and public health crisis that only continues to worsen each month, and it is preventable.
I am a proud co-sponsor of the PAUSE Act, which would provide for stringent enforcement of Title 42 and would prohibit the Biden Administration from weakening Title 42’s implementation. We need to take action now and secure our border!