Recent Op-Eds

A Secure America Starts at the Border

By Sen. John Thune

November 10, 2023

For the third year in a row, attempted illegal border crossings set a new record. In total, 8 million illegal immigrants have crossed into the United States since President Biden took office – one-fifth being “gotaways” that were seen by Customs and Border Protection, but evaded apprehension. Presumably, more made it through without any detection at all. The border crisis has gotten worse and worse for three years, and it’s long past time for a serious course correction from the Biden administration.

The kind of unchecked illegal immigration we’re seeing represents a serious security threat. The Department of Homeland Security recently warned that, “Terrorists and criminal actors may exploit the elevated flow [of migration] and increasingly complex security environment to enter the United States.” The Biden administration’s failure to secure the southern border has serious implications for our national security and public safety in our country.

By all indications, bad actors are in fact taking advantage of the chaos at the southern border. The Border Patrol chief recently said his agency is arresting an average of more than 47 people per day with “serious criminal histories.” In the last 12 months, 169 individuals on the terrorist watch list were caught trying to illegally enter the country. This is just the individuals who are being caught. How many of the individuals that Border Patrol fails to apprehend threaten security or safety?

The current crisis is, unfortunately, the predictable result of decisions made early on in the Biden administration. Before the president took office, his team was warned of the possibility of a migrant surge. Nevertheless, the president immediately went about dismantling his predecessor’s immigration policies and weakened our border security. He then ended pandemic-era policies that enabled expedited deportation. While the president has finally, half-heartedly acknowledged this crisis, the policy changes he has put in place are far too little and far too late. And now, the White House’s request for additional funding that would provide more resources to sanctuary cities gives Americans little confidence that the administration is actually interested in solving the crisis at the southern border.

The reality is that the solution to the border crisis is not solely a matter of money, it’s a matter of policy. Senate Republicans recently put forward a set of proposals to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. The plan would require border wall construction to proceed. It would close loopholes in our asylum system that are often abused. And it would prevent the Biden administration’s catch-and-release policies from sending illegal immigrants into the United States with court dates years into the future. It’s time we fix this problem, and Republicans are offering solutions. The question is whether our Democrat colleagues will join us in finally addressing this crisis.

Recent events should serve as a wake-up call that it’s time to protect our national security and secure the southern border. Lax enforcement and policies like catch-and-release only encourage more people to attempt to enter the United States illegally. A porous border invites the threat of terrorists and criminals. My Senate Republican colleagues and I will continue to advance these kinds of serious solutions to the border crisis.