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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed how the Biden administration’s disastrous open-border policies have enabled out-of-control illegal immigration and created an unprecedented humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border. Thune noted that there were more than 2 million individuals apprehended attempting to illegally cross the southern border in the last fiscal year alone, the highest number ever recorded.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, last Friday, President Biden said the following during a speech: ‘And we have a process in place to manage migrants at the border. We’re working to make sure it’s safe and orderly and humane.’
“‘Safe and orderly and humane.’
“I have to ask, has the president visited the border lately?
“Oh, that’s right, he hasn’t.
“In fact, other than a drive-by of the border when he was a candidate for vice-president – and by drive-by, I mean his motorcade literally drove by – the president has never visited the border.
“Although I have to say, even reading the news should be enough to make it clear to the president that the situation at the border is neither safe, nor orderly, nor humane.
“Mr. President, in case the president isn’t clear about what’s happening at the border, let me just read from one news story from last week – this one from NBC News.
“‘A new surge of migrants … is overwhelming the Border Patrol and shelters in El Paso, Texas, where nearly 1,000 have been released near bus stations over the past week in hope that they will find their own way to their next destinations in the U.S.’
“Here’s the title of another, grim news article from last week: ‘Texas border town requests refrigerators to store migrant bodies after drownings overwhelm mortuaries.’
“‘Texas border town requests refrigerators to store migrant bodies after drownings overwhelm mortuaries.’
“And yet another news outlet reported: ‘El Paso County Sheriff sounds alarm over Border Patrol overwhelmed due to migrants.’
“That article goes on to say, and I quote: ‘Sheriff Richard Wiles stated Thursday, ‘This incident raises a law enforcement concern because Border Patrol is so overwhelmed, undocumented immigrants may be released into communities with minimal or no screening.’’
“Mr. President, does any of this make the situation at the border sound safe, or orderly, or humane?
“I don’t think so.
“Mr. President, the Biden administration has been characterized by record-breaking waves of illegal immigration across our southern border.
“And I mean ‘record-breaking’ quite literally.
“In fiscal year 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehended more than 1.7 million individuals attempting to cross our southern border illegally – the highest number of apprehensions ever recorded.
“And as for fiscal year 2022 – well, we exceeded last year’s record-breaking number of apprehensions in June.
“The final count of apprehensions for fiscal year 2022 will be well over 2 million.
“And, Mr. President, those numbers only count migrants who were actually apprehended.
“CBS News reports that there were, quote, ‘an estimated 660,000 successful unlawful border entries that did not end in an arrest in fiscal year 2021, according to unpublished DHS figures.’
“Mr. President, I don’t have to tell anyone – except maybe congressional Democrats and the White House – that these kinds of numbers have resulted in scenes of near chaos at the southern border.
“Shelters have been overwhelmed, border facilities have been overwhelmed, the Border Patrol has been overwhelmed …
“Who can forget the scene of 10,000 migrants camped under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, last September?
“And just in case anyone is thinking things at the border have substantially calmed down, here’s yet another headline from this month, this one from the Dallas Morning News, and I quote:
“‘Overcrowded processing center has Border Patrol releasing more migrants on El Paso streets: Migrants are being released from a facility filled at 3 times its capacity.’
“Three times its capacity.
“Mr. President, over the past few months, the governors of Texas and Arizona have been sending some illegal migrants to places like New York City and Washington, D.C.
“There has been a predictable outcry.
“But what is so striking about this situation is how upset these places seem to have become when dealing with just a tiny fraction of the situation that border communities and border states have to deal with on a daily basis.
“Washington, D.C., declared a state of emergency.
“The New York City mayor was outraged.
“Mr. President, while I’m in no way dismissing the challenges of dealing with thousands of illegal immigrants, let me just put this situation in perspective for a minute.
“Washington, D.C., a city of around 700,000, has received somewhere around 9,400 migrants over a span of five months.
“New York City – a city of around 8.4 million – hasn’t even received as many as D.C.
“Compare that with the situation in Eagle Pass, Texas – a town with a population of just 29,000 – which sees 10,000 migrants a week.
“Mr. President, for a party that likes to pride itself on compassion, the lack of compassion Democrats and the White House display on this issue is really astounding.
“Even after catching a tiny glimpse of what it’s like to deal with an influx of illegal immigration, Democrats have apparently zero compassion for the border communities and states that have to somehow manage the arrival of thousands of illegal immigrants on a daily basis – along with all the logistical and security challenges that involves.
“And there are real security challenges.
“Certainly many of the migrants crossing our southern border illegally are simply looking for a better life – even if they’re trying to circumvent legal pathways to enter – but there are also a lot of potentially dangerous individuals coming across our border and passing through border communities.
“Gang members. Drug traffickers. Human smugglers. And other criminals.
“In one recent week, Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector along the southern border arrested 21 gang members, two sex offenders, and three migrants with prior convictions for various crimes.
“And the White House and Democrats don’t just display a lack of compassion for border communities.
“They also display a real lack of compassion for the individuals attempting to enter our country illegally.
“There is nothing compassionate about an immigration policy that encourages individuals to come here illegally – with all the risks that entails.
“Mr. President, earlier I mentioned a border town that was seeking increased morgue facilities because it was dealing with the bodies of so many individuals who had drowned while attempting to enter this country.
“Deaths at the southern border have surged under the Biden administration – undoubtedly because the administration’s lax immigration policies and obvious lack of concern about securing the border have encouraged individuals to attempt to come here illegally.
“According to Department of Homeland Security numbers that have been reported, 748 migrants have died at our southern border so far this fiscal year.
“That is a lot of lives lost, Mr. President.
“A lot of lives.
“Mr. President, one illegal immigrant speaking to a news outlet this month said of the border, and I quote, ‘It’s open, not closed. The border is open. … Everybody believes that the border is open. It’s open because we enter, we come in, free. No problem.’
“That is the message that President Biden’s immigration policies have conveyed.
“And the longer he continues with his de facto open-border policies, the more individuals are going to be encouraged to attempt the dangerous journey across our southern border.
“Mr. President, the massive spending package – the so-called Inflation Reduction Act – that Democrats shoved through the Senate last month contained hundreds of billions for Democrats’ Green New Deal priorities – like tax credits for wealthy Americans to buy electric cars and more than $60 billion for “environmental justice priorities.”
“There was also, of course, an $80 billion funding infusion for the IRS – a majority of it allocated for more IRS audits and increased enforcement, including the hiring of additional IRS agents.
“Nowhere were there any resources for addressing the crisis that has been raging for more than a year now at our southern border.
“During debate on the bill, Republicans gave Democrats five opportunities to vote for amendments aimed at providing resources to secure the border.
“Democrats rejected all of them.
“Apparently Democrats are willing to spend a lot of time and effort – and government money – on their Green New Deal and finding new ways to collect taxpayer dollars to help fund their big-government spending plans.
“But when it comes to protecting Americans and ensuring a humane situation at our southern border, Democrats just can’t be bothered.
“Mr. President, the situation at our southern border is appalling.
“And if the president really had any interest in making the process at the border “safe, orderly, and humane,” he’d be making securing our southern border a priority.
“Unfortunately, given his record so far, I think it’s more likely that we’ll see the scenes of chaos – and human suffering – continue.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”