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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor about President Biden’s failed border policies that have jeopardized our national security. Thune highlighted the third consecutive record-breaking year of illegal border crossings under President Biden, as well as the influx of individuals on the terrorist watchlist who have attempted to enter the country at the southern border. Thune called on the administration to immediately reverse its misguided policies and focus on improving border security and enforcing the law.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, we recently learned that fiscal year 2023 set a new record for the number of illegal immigrants apprehended at the southern border – the third record-breaking year of illegal immigration under the Biden administration.
“First, fiscal year 2021 set an all-time record.
“Then fiscal year 2022 broke that record.
“And now fiscal year 2023 has broken that record.
“In other words, Mr. President, we’ve had three straight years of the Biden border crisis getting worse and worse and worse.
“Since the president took office, more than 6.2 million individuals have been caught attempting to illegally cross our southern border.
“If every one of these individuals lived in one city, it would be the second largest in the country.
“Mr. President, I don’t need to tell anyone that the kind of unchecked illegal immigration we’re experiencing represents a serious security threat.
“The Department of Homeland Security recently noted in its 2024 threat assessment that, quote, ‘Terrorists and criminal actors may exploit the elevated flow [of migration] and increasingly complex security environment to enter the United States.’
“And, by all indications, bad actors are in fact taking advantage of the chaos at the border to try to enter the United States.
“During fiscal year 2023 alone, 169 individuals on the terrorist watchlist were caught attempting to illegally cross our southern border.
“That’s more than in the previous six years combined.
“The head of the Border Patrol recently said that his agency is arresting an average of more than 47 people per day who have, and I quote, ‘serious criminal histories.’
“More than 47 people. Per day. With ‘serious criminal histories.’
“And, Mr. President, that’s just the individuals who are being caught.
“Since January 2021, when President Biden took office, there have been more than 1.7 million known gotaways – individuals the Border Patrol saw but was unable to apprehend.
“And we can only imagine the number of unknown gotaways who have sneaked into the country.
“How many of those individuals have ‘serious criminal histories’ or hail from hostile countries?
“We don’t know.
“But we can be pretty confident that among those gotaways are dangerous individuals who should not be entering our country.
“Mr. President, this is a serious issue.
“And we need a serious course correction from this administration.
“Vice President Harris, who is in charge of overseeing border policies for this administration, recently told 60 Minutes that, quote, ‘we need a safe, orderly, and humane border policy.’
“This has been the purported goal of the Biden administration for almost three years now.
“But the administration has been failing on all three counts.
“And the current crisis we’re experiencing is a predictable result of the Biden administration’s decisions.
“Before the president took office, his team was warned of the possibility of a migrant surge.
“Yet the moment the president took office he set about dismantling the immigration policies of his predecessor and weakening our nation’s border security.
“And the result has been three successive years of record-breaking illegal immigration.
“And while the Biden administration has finally started to at least half-heartedly acknowledge our nation’s border crisis and put in place policies attempting to encourage legal migration and penalize illegal border crossings, the changes are insufficient.
“Far too little, far too late.
“Or as one columnist put it recently in the Washington Post, ‘The Biden administration’s various efforts have amounted to Band-Aids on a massive, open wound.’
“And the president’s recent supplemental funding request has not left me hopeful that the administration is suddenly going to become more effective.
“Potentially billions in reimbursement for blue states struggling to house illegal immigrants won’t do a single thing to solve the crisis we’re facing at the border.
“And while the president’s proposal does include some funding that would actually go toward security, funding alone is not enough.
“We need meaningful policy changes that will, for starters, end the rampant abuse of our asylum system and sweeping parole designations.
“Senators Graham, Lankford, and Cotton, among several others, are working hard to craft a set of changes to our asylum and parole policies that would stem the flow at our border.
“These changes would address obvious flaws in President Biden’s immigration policies and make tangible progress toward getting our border crisis under control.
“Mr. President, recent events have underscored the importance of national security.
“And a porous southern border is a huge vulnerability.
“We need to use every tool we can to secure the border and keep terrorists and criminals out of the United States.
“Senate Republicans are committed to putting policies in place at the border that keep Americans safe.
“And I hope that in the days and weeks to come, Senate Democrats will join us to make securing our border a priority.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”