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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed how the Biden administration’s disastrous policies have enabled out-of-control illegal immigration and created an unprecedented humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border. Thune noted that President Biden began his administration by rescinding the national emergency declaration at our southern border, halting construction of the border wall, and revoking a previous order that called for the government to faithfully execute our immigration laws.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, the Biden border crisis is still getting worse.
“In March U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered 221,303 individuals attempting to cross our southern border illegally.
“That’s an average of more than 7,100 individuals per day.
“And as of April, that number had gotten even worse.
“An April 26 memo from the secretary of homeland security reported, and I quote, ‘In the past three weeks, CBP has encountered an average of over 7,800 migrants per day across the Southwest Border. This is compared to a historical average of 1,600 per day in the pre-pandemic years (2014-2019).’
“Let me just repeat that, Mr. President.
“‘In the past three weeks, CBP has encountered an average of over 7,800 migrants per day across the Southwest Border. This is compared to a historical average of 1,600 per day in the pre-pandemic years.’
“The situation at our southern border, Mr. President, is out of control.
“And it’s on track to get much, much worse.
“On April 1, the Biden administration announced that Title 42 COVID-19 restrictions, which have provided for the immediate deportation of individuals who have crossed the border illegally, will end on May 23.
“It’s ironic that even as the president has effectively declared the COVID emergency to be over at our southern border, his administration continues to press for more COVID funding.
“Once Title 42 restrictions are officially lifted, the flood of illegal immigration across our southern border is expected to become a tsunami.
“The Department of Homeland Security expects as many as 18,000 migrants per day to attempt to cross our southern border after the policy is lifted.
“That’s more than double the number we’re currently experiencing – which is already straining the Border Patrol to the limit.
“Secretary Mayorkas testified last week that morale in the Border Patrol is low.
“What will it be like for these men and women when their workload more than doubles?
“Mr. President, Title 42 restrictions were never intended to be a permanent border solution.
“And lifting them would not be a problem if it were clear that the president is ready to deal with the resulting immigration surge.
“But the president hasn’t even been able to – or hasn’t bothered to – come up with a plan to address our existing immigration crisis.
“And the plan he’s offered to deal with the expected surge when Title 42 restrictions are lifted is inadequate, to put it mildly.
“To give just one example, the administration plans to increase Customs and Border Protection detention capacity to 18,000.
“The problem with that is that, as I said, we could be facing an influx of 18,000 illegal immigrants per day when Title 42 is ended.
“Given that individuals usually stay in Customs and Border Protection custody for two to three days, it’s clear that a detention capacity of 18,000 is likely to be woefully insufficient.
“Even some Democrats have criticized the administration’s plan, with one noting that ‘The administration’s plan for the end of Title 42 is unrealistic by May 23rd,’ while another said, ‘There hasn’t been enough preparation. … We don’t have the basics of, ‘how are you going to handle 18,000 individuals a day safely and in accordance with our ethics and principles?’ That plan I haven’t seen yet.’
“A number of Senate Democrats have criticized the president’s decision to end Title 42 right now.
“And while I appreciate their speaking up, I wish they had decided to join Republicans in supporting an amendment to preserve Title 42 border policies when we voted on it last August – or the amendment Republicans supported in February of last year to boost funding for security at our nation’s borders.
“Then perhaps we wouldn’t currently be in a situation where we expect to see half a million individuals a month attempting to illegally cross our southern border.
“Mr. President, out-of-control illegal immigration represents a serious security threat.
“Criminals, including human traffickers, drug smugglers, and gang members, regularly attempt to cross our southern border.
“And the worse the situation at our border gets, the easier it is for these individuals to make their way into our country.
“Our Border Patrol officers do heroic work, but they are stretched incredibly thin and have been for more than a year now.
“And it is simply common sense to acknowledge that the greater the flood of illegal immigration they have to contend with, the easier it is going to be for bad actors to get across the border.
“Just last week Secretary Mayorkas testified that there were more than 389,000 ‘gotaways’ – individuals the Border Patrol saw but was unable to apprehend – at our southern border during fiscal year 2021.
“How many more are there likely to be if the influx at our southern border more than doubles?
“Mr. President, securing our border – having actual operational control of who enters our country – is a national security imperative.
“And it’s unfortunate that President Biden doesn’t seem to realize that.
“He began his administration by rescinding the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border, halting construction of the border wall, and revoking a Trump administration order that called for the government to faithfully execute our immigration laws.
In other words, President Biden immediately gave the green light to those who would exploit our broken immigration system.
“And he has continued to implement measures that have served to convey the message that the United States’ borders are effectively open.
“And while his Title 42 decision has finally forced him to offer a so-called plan to deal with border security, the measures he proposes to take are unlikely to deter the expected surge of illegal immigration once Title 42 is lifted.
“As a result, by the end of this month, our nation may be facing a security, enforcement, and humanitarian crisis at our southern border that makes our current crisis look like child’s play.
“Mr. President, the administration must do more to develop its response plan before the president lifts Title 42 restrictions on the 23rd.
“But the truth of the matter is that it is almost unquestionably too late for the administration to be adequately prepared for the coming crisis by late May.
“I hope the president will recognize that and delay the May 23 date until he has an adequate plan for dealing with our current border crisis as well as any additional influx from lifting Title 42 border restrictions.
“If he does not move the May 23 deadline, then Congress should step in and do it for him – and stop our nation’s current border crisis from becoming a catastrophe.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”