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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed how President Biden has created the worst border crisis in our nation’s history. Thune noted that the massive increase of fentanyl being smuggled across the border to states around the country is affecting communities in South Dakota.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, we are currently in the midst of the worst border crisis in our nation’s history.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that the situation at our southern border is out of control.
“In December, U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehended more than 178,000 individuals attempting to cross our southern border illegally.
“That’s more than double the number of individuals apprehended by the Border Patrol the previous December.
“And this is no isolated incident.
“Almost from the day the president took office, our nation has been experiencing an unprecedented border surge.
“In fiscal year 2021, the Border Patrol encountered more than 1.7 million individuals attempting to cross our southern border – the highest number ever recorded.
“The situation at our southern border is a security, enforcement, and humanitarian nightmare.
“Our Border Patrol officers have done heroic work this past year, but they are stretched incredibly thin, and are having to spend too much time caring for migrants and not enough time patrolling the border.
“This heightens the chance that dangerous individuals – from terrorists to drug smugglers to human traffickers – will slip across the border and into the country unnoticed.
“Drug trafficking across our southern border is a major problem – and a problem that affects our entire country.
“There is a massive increase of fentanyl being smuggled across the border to states around the country – with total seizures up 134 percent and as high as 1,000 percent in south Texas.
“Alarmingly, fentanyl overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 45.
“I’ve talked with local law enforcement officials in South Dakota who report that they regularly seize drugs that they can trace back to cartels trafficking them across our southern border.
“In other words, it’s not just border states who are affected by security problems at our borders.
“Every state in our union is threatened by lax border security.
“Mr. President, addressing the situation at our southern border should be one of this administration’s top priorities.
“But the president has been almost completely AWOL on this issue – as has his supposed border czar, the vice president.
“He seems to be hoping that if he ignores this crisis long enough, it will go away.
“But it hasn’t gone away, Mr. President.
“In fact, it shows no signs of stopping.
“And it is hard to overemphasize the depth of the president’s dereliction of duty on this issue.
“It is the president’s job to deal with national security and border enforcement.
“And yet the president continues to do essentially nothing to address the situation at our southern border.
“He can’t even be bothered to visit the border.
“In fact, there’s reason to believe that the president has never visited the border – not as president, not as vice president, and not as a senator – beyond driving by it once on the way to a campaign rally in 2008.
“Of course, Mr. President, this situation isn’t just a matter of the president being derelict in his enforcement duties.
“The president is partly – if not largely – responsible for the existence of this situation in the first place.
“Immediately upon taking office, the president took steps that weakened our nation’s border security.
“On his very first day in office, President Biden rescinded the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border.
“He halted construction of the border wall.
“And he revoked a Trump administration order that called for the government to faithfully execute our immigration laws.
“All on his first day.
“And that’s not all.
“The president’s Department of Homeland Security also issued guidelines that same day pausing deportations except under certain conditions.
“The effect of all this was to declare to the world that the United States’ borders were effectively open.
“And the administration hasn’t made much of an effort to correct that impression.
“The president has significantly limited the ability of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection to enforce immigration laws.
“Deportations dropped precipitously during fiscal year 2021, as did arrests in the interior of the country.
“And, of course, having a president who seems untroubled by the massive number of migrants attempting to cross our borders illegally hardly sends a discouraging message to those contemplating making the crossing themselves.
“Mr. President, there is simply nothing good to say about President Biden’s record on the border so far.
“His policies are not compassionate.
“There is nothing compassionate about policies that invite illegal immigration and encourage individuals to undertake the dangerous journey to our southern border.
“And he has betrayed the duty he owes to the American people, who should be able to count on their president to care about security concerns, including border security.
“Mr. President, we just marked the anniversary of the president’s first year in the White House – a year marked by disaster at the border.
“The president has a chance to change that record – to leave behind something other than border chaos to mark his time in office.
“But until we see real action from this administration, I’m not getting my hopes up.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”