While the Biden administration claims that their open border agenda is a “compassionate” and “humane” alternative to enforcing the immigration laws currently on the books, what we witnessed last week was anything but that. I spent two days on the ground at the Del Rio Sector of the U.S.-Mexico border with Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and Senator Katie Britt, working with local, state, and federal law enforcement. Unlike President Biden’s short, sanitized detour while flying to Mexico, we spent time with those victimized by the cartels and saw firsthand the unvarnished truth of Biden’s border crisis.
Standing on the banks of the Rio Grande River early in the morning, I witnessed nearly two dozen illegal immigrants, including a pregnant woman and small children, wade across the near-freezing water and illegally enter the United States. They immediately turned themselves in. When we asked them why, they told us Biden said they could come. Cartels have capitalized on the administration’s refusal to enforce the law and are now charging between $8,000 and $20,000 to smuggle migrants into our country. Large-group crossings have become commonplace, and the ensuing chaos allows cartels to distract and overwhelm Border Patrol. While agents are stuck in the office processing paperwork, cartel scouts order smugglers upstream to sneak criminal aliens, drugs, and other contraband into our country undetected.
Over the last two years, drug overdose deaths, largely driven by fentanyl, have become the leading cause of death for adults ages 18 to 45 years old. Last year alone, law enforcement seized over 14,000 pounds of fentanyl at the border, enough to kill over 3.3 billion people. This is just one devastating consequence of the border crisis that has turned every state into a border state and every town into a border town.
During a roundtable discussion with former Mexican Congresswoman Rosa María de la Garza and human trafficking survivor Karla Jacinto Romero, we learned that cartels kidnap young women and girls to be exploited for sex and labor. Karla, who is truly one of the bravest women I have ever met, told us the heartbreaking story of how she was raped more than 40,000 times. While visiting the Harris Ranch, we heard from Texans about how smugglers will abandon both distressed and deceased migrants at the property’s edge, putting a strain on already overwhelmed emergency resources.
Since Biden took office, law enforcement officials have recorded over five million attempts by migrants to enter our country illegally, and more than one million migrants have entered and evaded capture. In fiscal year 2022 alone, 98 terrorists were apprehended at the border. Open border policies have emboldened the cartels and allowed them to profit off of raping migrants and killing Americans with fentanyl. Put simply, the radical left created a crisis that has killed countless Americans, and made ignoring the rule of law their official policy.
In Washington, I will continue to work on legislation to address the humanitarian and national security crisis. We must immediately begin detaining and deporting illegal immigrants, build the wall, provide agents with better technology, and increase the number of border patrol agents. It is imperative we send a strong message to the cartels that they do not have free reign over our border. These men and women working day and night to protect our country are true American heroes, and we owe them a great debt of gratitude.