U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today called out Democrats for ignoring the catastrophic crisis at the southern border and encouraging illegal immigration. Thune highlighted Democrats’ attempt to include full amnesty for illegal immigrants in their reckless tax-and-spending spree.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, the Biden border crisis continues to rage.
“Last month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered 164,303 individuals attempting to illegally cross our southern border.
“That’s more than twice the number of encounters Customs and Border Protection had the previous October, and the highest October number in more than 20 years.
“In all, more than 1.7 million migrants were apprehended attempting to cross our southern border in fiscal year 2021 – the highest number ever.
“We are in the midst of a very serious crisis, Mr. President.
“And the response from Democrats and the administration?
“Well, mostly crickets.
“Democrats seem to hope that ignoring the border situation will make it go away – or at least ensure that no one pays attention.
“I’m pretty sure the president and his administration spent more time earlier this year fighting against the use of the word crisis to describe the situation at the border than they did actually thinking about how they might deal with the influx.
“And apparently the administration is still trying to avoid the crisis label, judging by a recent hearing where the president’s nominee to head Customs and Border Protection seemed to carefully avoid referring to the situation at the border as a crisis.
“Mr. President, if the highest number of border apprehensions ever recorded isn’t a crisis, I’m not sure what is.
“The situation at our southern border is out of control.
“It’s a security crisis.
“It’s a manpower and enforcement crisis.
“And it’s a humanitarian crisis.
“Although, again, you’d never guess it from Democrats’ behavior.
“Despite the fact that this crisis has been raging for the best part of a year, Democrats and the administration have taken essentially no meaningful action to address the situation.
“And that’s not the worst of it.
“Democrats’ policies have actually made the situation worse.
“The president has significantly limited the ability of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection to enforce immigration laws.
“And arrests in the interior of the country dropped steeply under his administration.
“The Washington Post recently reported, and I quote, ‘Immigration arrests in the interior of the United States fell in fiscal 2021 to the lowest level in more than a decade.’
“And the practical effect of the president’s lax enforcement policies has been to encourage new waves of illegal immigration.
“It’s hardly surprising.
“If you think that your chances of staying in the United States are high if you manage to successfully enter the country, you’re much more likely to decide to undertake the journey.
“And the administration’s actions – or lack thereof – have been compounded by the actions of Democrats in Congress, who have been doing their best to guarantee widespread amnesty.
“Democrats have repeatedly attempted to include full amnesty for illegal immigrants in their tax-and-spending spree.
“And while they’ve been partially foiled by the rulings of the Senate parliamentarian, the latest version of their bill still contains provisions to grant de facto amnesty to many illegal immigrants.
“Their spending spree also deliberately lacks restrictions on federal funding going to individuals in the country illegally – which means that illegal immigrants could end up claiming the $3,000 per year child allowance, housing vouchers, and more.
“One analysis suggests that illegal immigrants could collect $10.5 billion in child allowance payments next year.
“And I haven’t even mentioned reports that the Biden administration has apparently been contemplating settling lawsuits brought by individuals who came here illegally with payments of up to $450,000 – per person.
“That’s more than four times as much as the government gives to the families of soldiers killed in action, and nine times as much as the government gives to an individual wrongly imprisoned for one year.
“The administration has suggested that payments will not actually be that high, but even a settlement half that size would dwarf the payments we give to the families of fallen soldiers.
“Mr. President, immigrants have helped make this country what it is today, and I am a strong supporter of legal immigration, including temporary worker visas like H-2B visas, which help South Dakota employers, and many others, address hiring challenges.
“But, again, immigration has to be legal.
“Encouraging illegal immigration, as Democrats are doing, presents a serious security risk, as it makes it easier for everyone from terrorists to drug traffickers to enter the country unidentified – to say nothing of drugs like fentanyl and other illegal items.
“Encouraging illegal immigration through lax immigration enforcement and amnesty also undermines respect for the rule of law.
“The area of immigration should not be an exception to the principle that the law has to be respected.
“Yet that’s basically what Democrats’ policies are saying – that the law doesn’t matter when it comes to immigration.
“Finally, Mr. President, we need to get away from any idea that there’s anything compassionate about policies that encourage individuals to come here illegally.
“Attempting to enter the country illegally is fraught with danger – from natural perils like weather, disease, and exposure, to exploitation by smugglers and traffickers.
“And amnesty and lax enforcement policies encourage thousands more individuals and families to expose themselves to the dangers of an illegal border crossing.
“Mr. President, President Biden and Democrats could help stem this crisis right now by making it clear that immigration law will be enforced and that the only acceptable way to enter the United States is to come here legally.
“Unfortunately, it seems much more likely that the president will continue to ignore this crisis and deemphasize immigration enforcement while Democrats in Congress continue to push for amnesty.
“It’s a serious failure of responsibility on the president’s part – and one that will continue to have serious, and sometimes deadly, consequences.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”