Recent Op-Eds

No End in Sight for the Biden Border Crisis

By Sen. John Thune

September 22, 2023

For two and a half years, a crisis has raged at the southern border. Recently, in less than one week, more than 35,000 illegal immigrants were caught trying to cross the border. That’s more than the population of Aberdeen, South Dakota, crossing the border in just four days. This crisis continues to strain resources at the border, but there appears to be no end in sight as the Biden administration fails to take simple steps to stop the flow of illegal immigrants.

Approximately 6 million illegal immigrants have been apprehended at the border since the start of the Biden administration, which doesn’t include 1.5 million known “gotaways” who entered the country after evading Border Patrol. The sheer number of illegal immigrants coming into the country is concerning on its own, but equally concerning is that very few are being removed from the United States when they are caught. According to one report, only about one in seven migrants was removed in July of this year. Those who aren’t removed sometimes receive court dates years in the future. This is exactly the sort of policy that keeps fueling this crisis, not to mention the fact that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has lost track of 177,000 individuals the agency released into the country pending a court date.

This crisis is the predictable outcome of decisions made early in – and throughout – the Biden administration. The president’s team was warned of the possibility of a migrant surge, yet the president wasted no time dismantling the immigration policies of his predecessor and weakening our nation’s border security. And it wasn’t long before the border was overwhelmed.

The few proactive measures the Biden administration has taken have been too little, too late, with recent data demonstrating that its efforts have been ineffective. The fact that both border communities and places far from the southern border like New York, Chicago, and Massachusetts are being strained by the influx of illegal immigrants indicates the administration’s actions are just not working.

I’m also deeply concerned about some of the new policies the administration is considering. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is reported to be considering requiring some illegal immigrants to remain in Texas while they await asylum screening. Forcing border communities to shoulder even more of the burden of this crisis is a terrible idea. The White House has also requested additional funding for ICE, not to be used for law enforcement or other security measures, but instead for shelters and migrant services. The White House appears to be focused on anything other than border security.

The situation at the border remains high on Americans’ list of concerns, and, unsurprisingly, most Americans don’t approve of how the Biden administration is handling the issue. The American people can tell that our borders are open, our laws aren’t being enforced, and that the security and humanitarian crises are not getting better.

The current situation is unsustainable. Ultimately, the solution is simple: The president has the power to end this crisis – he just needs to enforce the law. I’ll continue working to ensure Border Patrol has the resources it needs to keep the border secure, but absent presidential leadership, I’m afraid there will continue to be no end in sight for the crisis at the southern border.