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Thune: President Biden Has the Power to Fix His Self-Made Border Crisis

“[W]e are on track for a fourth record-breaking year of illegal immigration under the Biden administration because of the actions President Biden has taken – or failed to take.”

March 6, 2024

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor about the dire humanitarian and national security crisis at the southern border, which has been fueled by President Biden’s open-border policies and poor leadership. Thune noted that the United States is currently on track for a fourth straight record-breaking year of illegal immigration.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, last week President Biden visited the southern border – just his second such trip in his entire, half-a-century-long political career.

“And while I suspect his visit was motivated more by the thought of an election-year photo op than by a desire to see the border crisis firsthand, the president should be visiting the border.

“But more than that, the president should be taking action on the border.

“Real action – the kind of action that will actually do something to help stem the crisis we’re facing.

“Because we are facing a crisis, Mr. President.

“The number of migrant encounters at our southern border in January was the highest January number in more than 20 years.

“That, of course, followed a record-breaking – and staggering – 301,983 encounters in December – not only the highest December on record but the highest total for any month ever.

“And there’s no end in sight.

“The first four days of March saw 7,000-plus migrant encounters each day – putting us on track for yet another month of 200,000-plus migrant encounters at the southern border.

“And, of course, none of these numbers includes gotaways – individuals the Border Patrol saw but was unable to apprehend.

“There have been approximately 1.8 million known gotaways since President Biden took office – and an untold number of unknown gotaways over the same period.

“Mr. President, this is a crisis on so many levels.

“It’s a logistical and enforcement crisis.

“It’s a humanitarian crisis.

“And it’s a national security crisis.

“Our nation is simply not secure as long as we have hundreds of thousands of unknown individuals taking up residence in our country.

“U.S. Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens, speaking about the number of gotaways at the border, told Fox News, and I quote, ‘ … those are the numbers that really keep us up at night, because if you know that all you need to do is turn yourself in to the Border Patrol and go through the process, what possible reason would you have for wanting to evade capture? Could it be that those are the folks that probably have criminal intent?’

“Chief Owens was referring to the fact that under the Biden administration’s lax asylum system, individuals who show up at the border claiming asylum are frequently released into the country with court dates as much as a decade into the future.

“And his point, of course, is that when turning yourself in to the Border Patrol with a claim for asylum is likely to result in years of essentially legal permanent residence, it’s especially concerning that we have hundreds of thousands of individuals choosing not to turn themselves in to the Border Patrol and escaping into the interior of our country.

“And given that, it stands to reason that many of these gotaways have more malign intentions.

“Mr. President, while there are always various factors that affect the flow of illegal immigration, we are on track for a fourth record-breaking year of illegal immigration under the Biden administration because of the actions President Biden has taken – or failed to take.

“From the day he took office, when he rescinded the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border, President Biden made it clear that border security was at the bottom of his priority list.

“And over the three years since, he has turned our southern border into a magnet for illegal migration – from repealing border policies of his predecessor to misusing our asylum and parole systems, which are now providing temporary amnesty to hundreds of thousands of individuals here illegally.

“Recent news reports suggest that President Biden is thinking of taking new, more substantial immigration action aimed at helping to finally stem the flow of illegal migration.

“I hope that is true – although given his record, I’m not holding my breath.

“The president helped create this crisis, and he should end it.

“For example, tightening the standard for asylum claims, as President Trump did, could help weed out many of the specious claims that are being made and that allow individuals to take up long-term residence in our country.

“With 75 percent of respondents in a recent poll describing the situation at our southern border as ‘a very serious problem’ or ‘a crisis,’ perhaps election-year politics will do what three years of record-breaking immigration has not – force the president to take his responsibility for our nation’s security seriously and finally shut down the flow of illegal migration at our southern border.

“But, as I said, given the president’s record, I’m not holding my breath.

“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”