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Congressman Adrian Smith

Representing the 3rd District of Nebraska

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What I Learned at the Border

November 12, 2019
Column

The crisis on our southern border is at the front of many Americans minds. Too often we hear of dangerous cartels, and violence spilling into the United States. Because I wanted to see the urgency of this situation myself, last week I traveled with House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Mike Rogers and three other colleagues to McAllen, Texas, on the United States-Mexico border. I was very impressed by the diligence of our Border Patrol and the work they do to protect our national security. However, the trip also highlighted the serious challenges we face.

The United States and Mexico share a border of nearly 2,000 miles. In addition to illegal migration, illegal crossings of the southern border are used to smuggle drugs and traffic human victims to the United States. When I spoke with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials, they said the influx of unaccompanied minors is increasingly becoming a crisis.

Over the last year, more than 75,000 minors were apprehended at the border without their parents. This is by far the most in the history of the United States. CBP has also seen a rise in minors who are accompanied by an adult other than a parent or family member – raising major concerns over the potential for abusive situations.

President Trump has made border security a focus during his administration. According to the Department of Homeland Security, CBP is now “better staffed today than at any time in its 88-year history.” On my visit, we toured the border barrier construction. President Trump has rightly made this effort into a priority. Although a physical barrier is important, the CBP officials also highlighted the need to use new technology. Resources such as radars, sensors, drones, and high-resolution cameras can be better utilized to apprehend those breaking the law and further deter illegal activity.

To keep up with the challenges ahead of us, we must continually ensure our men and women protecting the border have the resources they need to effectively do their jobs. It was an honor to see first-hand the hard work done by those on the front lines of our national security. These dedicated agents are up to the task. They deserve our thanks and support.

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