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Thune: National Security Debate Incomplete Without Addressing Southern Border

“We cannot support American interests abroad while continuing to sacrifice the security of the American people here at home.”

December 7, 2023

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today called out Senate Democrats for turning a blind eye to the national security crisis at the southern border. Thune urged his Democrat colleagues to stop rejecting much-needed policy changes to help slow the flow of illegal immigrants entering the country and provide law enforcement with additional tools and resources to effectively do their jobs.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, if Democrats were unsure about Republicans’ seriousness about including meaningful border security provisions in the national security supplemental, yesterday’s vote made it crystal clear.

“Every single Senate Republican rejected Democrats’ collective attempt to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that what’s happening at our southern border isn’t a threat to our security.

“Border security is national security, which is why any national security supplemental that moves through this chamber must tackle this crisis head-on.

“Mr. President, on Tuesday FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and told members, quote, ‘… I’ve never seen a time where all the threats or so many of the threats are all elevated all at exactly the same time.’

“Senator Graham then asked Director Wray to comment on the threat environment using the blinking red lights analogy often used about warnings before the September 11 attacks.

“And Director Wray responded, quote, ‘I see blinking lights everywhere I turn.’

“‘I see blinking lights everywhere I turn.’

“Mr. President, it is against the background of this threat environment that Republicans are asking Democrats to finally, finally help secure our border.

“We have endured three record-breaking years of illegal immigration at our southern border under President Biden.

“And the situation is only getting worse.

“Tuesday saw a staggering 12,000 migrant encounters at the southern border.


“In just one day.

“That’s eight people per minute.

“And that follows two days of 10,000-plus encounters.

“I’m not sure how anyone can look at these numbers and not think this is a crisis.

“Plus, those numbers don’t count any gotaways – individuals the Border Patrol saw but was unable to apprehend – who may have made their way across the border during that same period.

“The month of October saw an average of roughly 1,000 gotaways a day.

“That’s roughly 30,000 unknown individuals who made their way into our country.


“In just one month.

“All told, there have been more than 1.7 million known gotaways on President Biden’s watch – not to mention an unknown number of unknown gotaways.

“And these gotaways are not the migrants who are showing up hoping to be apprehended because they know they can game the asylum or parole system.

“No, these are individuals bent on avoiding detection – which should concern us deeply.

“Anyone who doesn’t think bad actors are attempting to exploit the situation at our southern border needs to think again.

“During fiscal year 2023, the Border Patrol apprehended 169 individuals on the terrorist watchlist attempting to make their way across our southern border into our country.

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

“FBI Director Wray noted at that same Judiciary hearing that since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, the threat level has gone to, quote, ‘a whole other level.’

“Abroad, American troops have been attacked nearly 80 times since October 7.

“And it is naïve to think that there aren’t terrorists out there currently trying to make their way into the United States to attack our country.

“And why wouldn’t any terrorist trying to enter our country take advantage of the chaos at the southern border?

“And you don’t have to take my word for it.

“The Department of Homeland Security – in its threat assessment released in September – noted the risk that, quote, ‘Terrorists and criminal actors may exploit the elevated flow [of migration] and increasingly complex security environment to enter the United States.’

“And that assessment was written before the October 7 attack – or the many attacks on U.S. troops abroad that followed it.

“If there was a risk before, I think it’s safe to say that there is an even greater risk now.

“Mr. President, this situation cannot continue.

“The massive flood of illegal immigration at our southern border has to stop.

“That is why the national security supplemental must contain real measures to secure our border.

“Not cosmetic fixes.

“Not superficial tweaks.

“Real border security measures.

“I believe it is in our national security interests to support allies like Israel, Taiwan, and Ukraine.

“But we cannot support American interests abroad while continuing to sacrifice the security of the American people here at home.

“Mr. President, for three years the Biden administration has put out a de facto welcome mat at our southern border.

“If we want to protect our country, that has to stop.

“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”