U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke about Democrats’ disastrous, out-of-touch policies that would significantly expand the federal government’s reach into South Dakotans’ everyday lives. Thune also discussed the ongoing disarray within the Democrat Party, and he noted that the Biden administration’s self-inflicted border crisis is a direct result of its own failed policies.
Thune’s remarks (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, yesterday I came down to the floor to talk about President Biden’s mishandling of Afghanistan.
“Today I want to talk about another situation the administration has mishandled – or, perhaps more accurately, failed to handle – the crisis at our southern border.
“I say failed to handle because by and large the Biden administration has completely failed to take any meaningful action in response to this crisis.
“Sure, they occasionally make half-hearted stabs at the problem.
“Usually when the media starts noticing things like thousands of migrants and their children residing in a squalid refugee camp under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas.
“But mostly they seem content to ignore it.
“More than six months into this crisis, there is still no sign that the president plans to travel to the border to get a look at the problem firsthand.
“In fact, it’s not clear whether President Biden has ever visited the border at any point during his political career.
“The president seems to have adopted an ‘if I pretend the problem doesn’t exist it will go away’ attitude.
“It’s kind of like earlier this year, when Biden administration officials refused to call the situation a crisis – despite overwhelming evidence that the border influx had reached crisis proportions.
“It’s like they believed that if they didn’t use the word, they could somehow avoid the reality.
“Unfortunately for the administration, Mr. President, there is no way to avoid the fact that we are facing a border crisis.
“Last month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered 208,887 people attempting to cross our southern border illegally – a 318 percent increase from August of 2020.
“Let me just repeat that.
“In August Customs and Border Protection encountered 208,887 people attempting to cross our southern border – a 318 percent increase from the prior August.
“For context, that number is bigger than the population of Sioux Falls, South Dakota – the largest city in my home state.
“In a single month.
“At this point the situation at the border is beyond a crisis; it’s completely out of control.
“And the situation may soon deteriorate further, with one outlet reporting yesterday that tens of thousands of additional Haitian migrants are set to head toward our southern border.
“Mr. President, illegal migration across the southern border tends to slow down during the heat of summer.
“Not under the Biden administration.
“Under the Biden administration, the numbers this summer just got worse.
“Encounters along the southern border in July were up 420 percent from July of 2020.
“And of course, these numbers only reflect individuals Customs and Border Protection has been able to apprehend.
“There are undoubtedly individuals who are successfully evading apprehension and illegally taking up residence in our country.
“Then there are the individuals being detained and then released into the country with orders to appear at an immigration court.
“This so-called “catch and release” approach is notorious because the individuals released into the country often never show up at immigration courts as directed.
“In spite of this, the administration is using this strategy and is apparently employing it to deal with the surge of migrants from Haiti.
“Despite having committed to deporting these individuals, the administration is releasing thousands of Haitian migrants into the United States.
“Mr. President, the situation at the border is a crisis.
“It’s a security crisis.
“It’s a logistics crisis.
“And it is a humanitarian crisis.
“Attempting to cross the border illegally is a dangerous enterprise.
“Migrants face the risk of death, injury, heat exhaustion, and disease – to say nothing of the risk of exploitation from smugglers and traffickers who are profiting to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars by conveying people across the border illegally.
“By failing to stem the flow of illegal immigration, the president is perpetuating this humanitarian disaster.
“And Democrats in Congress are helping him.
“My colleagues across the aisle have been trying to add amnesty for illegal immigrants into the tax-and-spending spree they’re considering.
“That’s a policy that’s pretty much guaranteed to further encourage individuals to make the dangerous and illegal journey across our southern border.
“Mr. President, most people are familiar with the expression ‘fiddling while Rome burns.’
“It’s an expression I’m forcibly reminded of when I consider the actions of my Democrat colleagues and the Biden administration.
“Our country is, as I’ve discussed, facing a massive security and humanitarian crisis at our southern border.
“On top of that, we just completed a disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal that has put our country at greater risk from terrorists, damaged our standing among our allies, and condemned the Afghan people to Taliban tyranny.
“Meanwhile, on the economic front, we’re facing a serious inflation problem that doesn’t look like it’s going to go away any time soon.
“Americans are seeing their purchasing power shrink as they face higher prices on everything from groceries to gas.
“And the Democrat response?
“Essentially sticking their fingers in their ears and humming.
“Or checking their watches to see if the unpleasantness is over yet.
“If you were just going by Democrats’ legislative priorities, you’d be forgiven for thinking that none of the problems I’ve discussed even exist.
“Rather than addressing our border crisis or our inflation problem, Democrats are right now attempting to tee up a massive, reckless tax-and-spending spree to vastly expand the reach of government into Americans’ lives.
“Our border is in crisis, our country is at risk, American families are struggling with inflation, and Democrats’ top priority is … advancing socialism.
“And not only does their bill fail to address any of the major challenges I’ve outlined, it’s pretty much guaranteed to make them worse.
“Dumping trillions of additional government dollars into an economy already struggling with inflation is pretty much guaranteed to send our already-high inflation even higher.
“And, as I mentioned, Democrats are frantically working to circumvent Senate rules and insert some type of amnesty into their spending bill – which will only aggravate the crisis at our southern border.
“Although at this point, Mr. President, I’m wondering if Democrats will even be able to pass their tax-and-spending spree.
“The Democrat Party is in disarray.
“And the story changes so often I think reporters are starting to get whiplash.
“I certainly am.
“One minute the Democrat leaders are united; the next minute the Senate leader doesn’t know what the speaker is doing.
“One minute the House is going to consider the tax-and-spending spree and the infrastructure bill together; the next it’s going to consider them separately.
“Democrat leaders announce an agreement on a framework for their tax-and-spending spree; their rank-and-file members report they’ve never seen it.
“Their spending spree is going to cost $3.5 trillion. No, wait, it’s going to cost $0.
“Democrat progressives and Democrat moderates are at each other’s throats.
“The House speaker is chewing out centrist Democrats.
“And Democrats can’t agree on a host of issues, from Iron Dome funding to prescription drug measures to infrastructure.
“The Democrat Party is unraveling fast.
“Mr. President, it’s deeply unfortunate that Democrats can’t seem to rise to the challenges of governance.
“President Biden’s administration was supposedly going to usher in a new era of domestic tranquility and international respect.
“The professionals, we were told, were back in charge.
“Instead, it looks like Democrats and the president are going to leave our country a lot worse off than they found it – burdened by tax hikes and government spending (if they can ever manage to agree on a bill), in greater danger from terrorism, and with a never-ending crisis at our southern border.
“If Democrats don’t change their focus and get their act together, a weakened country is likely to be their legacy.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”