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Thune: Democrats’ Refusal to Secure the Southern Border Holds up Aid for U.S. Allies

“It’s become increasingly clear that Democrats are so unserious about securing the border that they’re willing to sacrifice aid to Ukraine and other allies in order to keep the border open.”

December 13, 2023

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor and called on President Biden and Senate Democrats to get serious about working with Republicans to address the growing humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border. Thune noted that Democrats are holding up the much-needed national security package for the United States’ allies because they are unwilling to take meaningful steps to slow the flow of illegal migrants entering the country at the southern border.

Thune’s remarks below (as delivered):

“10,109.

“10,109.

“The number of people that were apprehended trying to come across the border illegally yesterday.

“Those are the people that were caught, Mr. President.

“That doesn't count the people who got away, and that Customs and Border Patrol know got away.

“Then there are all the unknown gotaways.

“But over 10,000 people in a single day apprehended trying to come across our southern border illegally.

“Annualize that.

“Again, you’re talking 3.5 to 4 million people a year.

“Four million people is larger than 24 states in the United States of America.

“That’s the dimension of the problem that we are talking about.

“And that we’re trying to get the White House and the Democrats here in the Senate to focus on and address.

“Mr. President, I don’t think it’s any surprise that Democrats aren’t interested in making the illegal immigration crisis at our southern border a priority.

“After all, the president and Democrats have spent almost three years now ignoring, minimizing, or actively abetting this crisis.

“But over the past few days, we’ve had a chance to see the true depth of their animosity to border security.

“Because it’s become increasingly clear that Democrats are so opposed to serious border security measures that they’re willing to sacrifice aid to Ukraine and other allies, including Israel, in order to keep the border open.

“That’s right.

“Democrats are holding up an aid package for our allies because they are not willing to take meaningful steps to secure our border.

“Now, Mr. President, I strongly support aid to allies like Ukraine and Taiwan and believe that supporting these nations is in our national security interest.

“And Republicans have been ready to take up the national security supplemental for weeks.

“But we’ve asked for one thing.

“Just one thing.

“We’ve asked that while we’re looking after our national security interests abroad, we also address the national security crisis here at home.

“That we give the safety of the American people the same priority as the safety of our allies.

“Mr. President, national security begins at home.

“And we have an obligation to the American people to address the crisis at our southern border that is threatening the security of our nation.

“And while it is hard to understand how any Democrat can fail to understand the gravity of the situation at our southern border, let me just run through some of those numbers again.

“Mr. President, we have had three successive record-breaking years of illegal immigration at our southern border under President Biden.

“In October 2023, which is the latest month for which we have data, U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered 240,988 migrants at our southern border – which is the highest October number ever recorded.

“That’s nearly a quarter of a million individuals in just one month.

“Last Tuesday, as I mentioned, there were a staggering 12,000-plus encounters at our southern border – the highest daily total ever recorded.

“That was followed by two days of 10,000-plus encounters.

“And, as I said, yesterday, the number was once again up over 10,000.

“In fiscal year 2023, the Border Patrol apprehended 169 individuals on the terrorist watchlist at the southern border attempting to illegally enter our country.

“169.

“People on the terrorist watchlist.

“That number is more than the total of the previous six fiscal years combined.

“During October 2023 alone, more than 1,500 individuals who had previously been convicted of a crime were apprehended by the Border Patrol.

“More than 90 of them had outstanding warrants for their arrest.

“And the Border Patrol apprehended – get this – 50 gang members.

“Think about that.

“People on the terrorist watchlist.

“People who have warrants out for their arrest.

“1,500 individuals who had previously been convicted of a crime.

“And 50 gang members.

“You can’t make this stuff up.

“Where is the outrage?

“This is insanity.

“The risk that we are putting our country at, the threat that this represents to the safety of the American people.

“And again, those numbers are just for October.

“Mr. President, there is no question that many illegal immigrants are coming to the United States in search of a better life.

“We know that.

“But there is equally no question that there are bad people – dangerous people – trying to make their way into our country.

“And some of them may already be here.

“The numbers I’ve referred to only cover individuals who have actually – as I said – been apprehended.

“But a staggering number of people have made their way into our country during the Biden administration without being apprehended.

“In fact, during the last fiscal year, there were 670,000 known gotaways – and those are individuals the Border Patrol saw but was unable to apprehend.

“Now, to put that number in perspective, Mr. President, that’s more than three times the number of people in the most populated city in my home state of South Dakota.

“And it is highly likely that among those gotaways were dangerous individuals who should not be taking up residence in our country.

“Mr. President, as the director of the FBI reminded us in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month, it doesn’t take many dangerous people to cause a lot of devastation.

“And the crisis at our southern border is creating a situation that could allow not just a few but a lot of dangerous individuals to enter our country.

“And so while a lot of us Republicans are ready and eager to take up aid to our allies like Ukraine, we will continue to insist that any national security supplemental address not just the security needs of our allies abroad, or helping them defend their borders, but the security needs of the American people here at home, by defending our border.

“So, Mr. President, the ball is in Democrats’ court.

“They can work with Republicans to address the national security crisis at our southern border in the supplemental appropriations bill.

“Or they can continue to sacrifice aid to our allies in order to keep the southern border open.

“It’s their choice, and it’s really that simple.

“Democrats have already jeopardized our ability to get anything done before Christmas.

“For the sake of Ukraine and our other allies, I hope they decide to work with Republicans sooner rather than later.

“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”