Recent Op-Eds

Every State is a Border State

By Sen. John Thune

February 4, 2022

The crisis at our southern border is the worst in our nation’s history, and the Biden administration bears full responsibility. During President Biden’s first year in office, there were nearly 2 million illegal border crossing attempts. Instead of listening to early warnings from border experts, the president caved to the far-left and refused to acknowledge the humanitarian crisis unfolding right in front of him. Not literally in front of him, I suppose, since the president hasn’t actually visited the crisis zones on our southern border at any point during his entire career as a senator, vice president, or president. During his first year as president, he’s largely ignored the crisis from the comfort of the White House in Washington. 

The Biden administration has single-handedly escalated this crisis, and it has refused to implement meaningful policies that will deter illegal immigrants from coming across our border – it has essentially created a haven for illegal border crossers. Now, instead of addressing the real security and humanitarian crisis that this massive wave of illegal immigration represents, the president and his administration have doubled down, resisting court orders to reinstate the Remain in Mexico policy and conducting migrant relocation flights in the dead of night.

The southern border crisis is not only a problem for border states. It is impacting communities all across our country, including ours in South Dakota. The president’s failed policies make every state a border state. He and others in his administration can’t waste another minute by plugging their ears and covering their eyes. They must act now.

When I traveled to the southern border last April, I didn’t think it could get any worse than what I was seeing at that time. Well, I was wrong. Currently, there is a massive increase of fentanyl being smuggled across the border to states all around the country, with seizures up an average of 134 percent – 1,000 percent in south Texas alone. But this poison obviously doesn't stay there. It makes its way to communities across the country. Fentanyl overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 to 45. You would think that statistics like these would snap the Biden administration back to reality, but in fact, Vice President Kamala Harris – the president’s designated border czar – has yet to travel to the border for more than a scripted photo op since taking office.

What’s just as concerning to me are recent reports that revealed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been releasing large numbers of illegal immigrants into communities around the country. After migrants are processed at a makeshift border facility, they are put onto planes and scattered throughout the country. This is inexcusable and only encourages continued waves of illegal migration.

Now don’t get me wrong, immigration has helped build this country, and I strongly support making sure that the United States continues to offer a chance for individuals to achieve their dream of a better life and positively contribute to our nation. I also support temporary worker programs, like the H-2B visa program, that allows individuals from other countries to come to the United States for a limited time period before returning to their home countries. This is a critical program for supplementing domestic workers that enables South Dakota businesses, like those in the tourism industry, to handle peak seasonal demand. I have introduced legislation to make this supplemental system more reliable for our employers. But we cannot have endless floods of illegal immigration that fly in the face of our laws and overwhelm the men and women who are trying to protect our country. Immigration has to have limits, and, most of all, it has to be legal. 

The administration should prioritize strong border security, stop the rampant abuse of the asylum system, and crack down on the traffickers and cartels that prey on migrants. President Biden has the power to start ending this crisis today by enforcing immigration laws and asserting that the way to come to this country is by doing it legally. It’s time for the president and his border czar to get out of Washington, D.C., to see the crisis they have created and take action before it gets any worse.