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The Crisis at the Southern Border

March 19, 2021
Column

At the forefront of many Americans’ minds right now, including mine, is the situation at our southern border. The surge of illegal immigrants attempting to enter our country at the Unites States-Mexico border is a serious problem with sweeping implications for national security, drug smuggling, and public safety, before even considering the health and safety of the skyrocketing numbers of unaccompanied children. Our country is a beacon of freedom and opportunity, but our legal process must be upheld and abided by to ensure the continued existence of such opportunity. 

The growing number of people entering the United States illegally stems from a growing disregard at home for our immigration laws and standards. The previous administration made border security a focal point, directing additional personnel and resources to the border region and beginning construction of a wall along our southern border. President Biden has halted these efforts and has allowed human traffickers and smugglers to run wild with claims that the border is open to any and all. To fix the crisis at our southern border, we should work across the aisle to find solutions to the root problems and the gaps in our immigration system, not ignoring or encouraging further weakening of our border security.

With the border between the United States and Mexico stretching more than 1,900 miles, it is crucial action is taken to secure our borders. That is why this week I cosponsored the Stopping Border Surges Act of 2021. It would protect family units by allowing parents and children to remain together and prohibiting the release of a child to any individual other than a parent or legal guardian. These safeguards, combined with better coordination and transparency between the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services creates further accountability for children and families during immigration proceedings. The bill also would address serious, frequently exploited flaws with the asylum process. By establishing uniform standards and increasing penalties if false information is provided, it aims to restore integrity to the process and ensure those fleeing from persecution or torture can access shelter in the United States as our laws intend.

I also supported the Border Crisis Prevention Act to provide commonsense modifications to current handlings of illegal immigrants at the southern border. This bill allows DHS to provide a third country as a safe option for asylum seekers, permits increased funding for ICE in order for them to enforce existing laws and procedures, while also taking action to reduce the asylum backlog by increasing the number of federal immigration judges. Another important aspect of this bill is its explicit authorization to detain illegal immigrants who have proven dangerous or violent. 

The continued surges in illegal immigration at our southern border is an issue far from being resolved. These two pieces of legislation are just a start in the much-needed reform to enhance our national security and sustain the integrity of our laws; they include a variety of commonsense proposals all of which would provide immediate benefits to help address the ongoing border crisis. As a nation of immigrants, the United States has served as the worldwide destination for those seeking the American dream. To maintain this legacy, we must continue to uphold these ideals of our country while acting within the law. Both sides of the aisle will have to come together in Congress to reach a solution and establish a better system going forward.

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