America’s Immigration Crisis Has a Bipartisan Solution
“Migrants used to run from us. Now they run to us.”
This is the new reality for Border Patrol agents who are on the front lines of America’s unprecedented border crisis.
In the last year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection logged more than 2.3 million illegal border crossings. This has led to not only a humanitarian crisis, but also a dire security breakdown. When agents are changing diapers instead of patrolling the border, it creates a gateway for dangerous drugs and criminals to sneak across.
In the past year, CBP has seized more than 645,000 pounds of illegal drugs, including nearly 13,600 pounds of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl, which is killing Americans at an alarming rate. Meanwhile, the cartels that traffic both drugs and migrants are getting richer by the day.
This crisis is not new, and it is not surprising.
President Joe Biden ran on the promise of policies that guaranteed this exact scenario, and his administration continues to ignore the obvious crisis on our doorstep. Earlier this month, Vice President Kamala Harris boldly proclaimed, “The border is secure.”
Law enforcement, local leaders, nonprofits, landowners and other experts on the ground in Texas will attest that her claim is patently false.
In July, I led a trip to the Rio Grande Valley with Sen. Ted Cruz to give our Senate colleagues a firsthand look at the deadly scene playing out along our border. We heard stories of young children making the dangerous journey alone, teenagers being recruited to smuggle migrants, and local businesses trying to stay afloat amid safety concerns and significant financial losses. Across the board, every system responding to this crisis is stretched thin and beyond overwhelmed, making it nearly impossible to stop dangerous drugs and individuals from streaming into our country.
Despite the magnitude of this crisis, this trajectory can be changed. In fact, if the Biden administration wanted to take the first step, it wouldn’t have to look far.
Last year, I introduced the Bipartisan Border Solutions Act with Texas Reps. Tony Gonzales, R-San Antonio, and Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. This bill addresses the growing migrant influx at the border through a number of systemic reforms.
One of the biggest strains is migrant processing. The Bipartisan Border Solutions Act will help streamline this system by establishing at least four regional processing centers in high-traffic areas. These facilities will help improve efficiency and coordination between the various government agencies. They will also ensure we don’t have to skip important steps of the process, such as issuing a notice to appear to begin removal proceedings in immigration court, due to a facility running beyond its capacity.
This legislation will also ease the strain on immigration courts, which are already battling a backlog more than 1.9 million cases deep. It creates a pilot program to expedite credible fear screenings, one of the first steps of the legal process, and instructs immigration courts to prioritize cases of migrants who arrive during surges. This will ensure those with legitimate claims can be granted asylum without lengthy delays, while also disincentivizing individuals with weak or fabricated asylum claims from attempting the dangerous journey to the border at all.
Currently, it can take years for a single immigration case to be adjudicated. With the current surge in migration, the number of cases and the wait times will only continue to grow. It’s in everyone’s best interest to resolve cases fairly and efficiently, and deliver migrants the legal certainty they need to move forward with their lives. To support this goal, our bipartisan bill requires the hiring of hundreds of immigration judge teams, asylum officers, litigation teams, and other staff.
This bill makes a number of other common sense changes to alleviate staffing shortages, expand language translation and legal orientation services for migrants, and improve coordination between federal, state and local officials.
With busloads of migrants now arriving to places like Washington, D.C., and New York City, maybe the Biden administration will understand that their strategy of inaction is reckless and untenable.