Excerpt from Thune’s speech below:
“Mr. President, it should go without saying that border security is a basic national security requirement.
“Countries have to secure their borders.
“They need to know who is coming into their country, and they need to be able to keep people who shouldn’t be entering the country — like criminals or drug traffickers — out.
“Making sure that our borders are secure is one of our most essential responsibilities as members of Congress.
“It’s a basic obligation, like making sure our military is capable of defending our country.
“But while border security is always a national security imperative, it’s particularly important right now, because we are facing a security and humanitarian crisis at our border.
“Over the past year, illegal border crossing apprehensions have shot up by more than 30 percent.
“An average of 60,000 individuals try to cross our southern border illegally each month.
“This represents a serious security concern.
“Among those trying to cross our southern border are drug dealers, gang members, human traffickers, and other criminals.
“But this flood of attempted border crossings also represents a serious humanitarian concern.
“Individuals attempting the journey to come here illegally are vulnerable to exploitation, illness, and abuse.
“One out of every three women attempting the journey to the United States is sexually assaulted.
“A staggering 70 percent of individuals become victims of violence along their way.
“And illness and other medical issues are a serious problem.
“Fifty migrants a day are referred for medical care, and Customs and Border Protection rescues 4,300 people in distress every year.
“There is a direct way to stem this humanitarian crisis.
“And that is to promote legal immigration and discourage people from coming here illegally.
“And how do we discourage people from attempting to come here illegally?
“We enforce our immigration laws and prevent individuals from illegally crossing our borders.
“Mr. President, I’ve mentioned the dangerous individuals who can sneak across our porous borders, and the humanitarian crisis we face.
“But of course there are even more dangers posed by the weaknesses in our border, both around barriers and through our ports of entry — like the illegal drugs pouring into the country.
“Every week in this country, 300 Americans die from heroin.
“90 percent of the heroin supply — 90 percent — flows across our southern border.
“In 2017, opioids were involved in the deaths of almost 50,000 Americans.
“Roughly half or more of those deaths involved fentanyl.
“And a lot of that fentanyl is coming across our borders illegally.
“Federal agents have seen a 115 percent increase in the amount of fentanyl seized between ports of entry.
“One key part of addressing the opioid epidemic in our country is shutting down the flow of illegal drugs across our porous borders.