Recent Op-Eds

Seeing the Border Crisis Firsthand

By Sen. John Thune

April 5, 2021

The situation at our southern border is spiraling out of control, and there is a direct connection to the policies the Biden administration put into place. I recently went down to our southern border to see the conditions firsthand and learn the truth about the growing humanitarian crisis that the Biden administration has blocked the press from covering.

Make no mistake – despite the efforts of the administration to distract and downplay, this is a crisis. And as long as the Biden administration continues to implement policies that give the impression of an open, porous border, people are going to keep flooding into our country.

What I saw on the border was harrowing. Border Patrol officers are overwhelmed and under-supported, smugglers who often have close ties to drug cartels are profiting massively, drugs are slipping through cracks of an overwhelmed system, and there are hundreds of kids scared and alone. One facility we toured that was designed to handle no more than 250 people under COVID safety guidelines is currently handling 4,200 people, and many of them are testing positive for COVID-19.

The Biden administration halfheartedly told migrants “don’t come,” but its relaxed, open-border policies say otherwise. The message received by prospective migrants is: If you can make it to the U.S. border and claim asylum, whether legitimate or not – even if you illegally cross the border – you’re in. And the stoplight is stuck on green.

One of the most heartbreaking loopholes created by the Biden administration incentivizes migrants to bring along very young children because the administration won’t deport anyone with a child who is 6 years or younger. This change sent the message that a child is an automatic passport into the United States. Caught in between are the children being taken and exploited as a “ticket” into our country. It was shocking to see hundreds of very young children packed into these border facilities, and even more horrible to hear about the traumatic journeys they’ve made from countries thousands of miles away. Talking to Border Patrol officers, there’s no doubt that migrants have been incentivized to make the dangerous trek by welcoming policies and loopholes put in place by this administration.

The administration isn’t blocking illegal border crossings, but they are blocking the press and transparency on the crisis they created. As a group of United States Senators, we were told not to document what we saw and even to delete photos we took. This administration knows how bad the situation at the southern border looks for immigration policies long championed by Democrats – especially after downplaying and ridiculing the improvements President Trump made to discourage migrants and secure our border. President Biden should be less concerned with optics and more concerned with making common-sense changes to his immigration policies. There’s no excuse for blocking the press and attempting to hide this crisis from the American people.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of this situation is that this crisis would have been totally avoidable if the administration had listened to the warnings of our border experts. But, once again, President Biden caved to his political left, and the result is a humanitarian and public safety emergency that is worsening by the day.

In order to end the Biden border crisis, the administration should support strong border security, stop asylum abuse, 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 law and strongly stating that the way to come to this country is to come legally. He’s choosing not to take any of the steps necessary to improve the terrible conditions I saw firsthand.

For the sake of the unaccompanied children and all those trying to cross our borders, and for the sake of the Americans who have been endangered by his policies, I hope the president will visit the border to see the crisis for himself and take action to secure our border.