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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today on the Senate floor called on Senate Democrats and the White House to meaningfully reform both the asylum and parole systems in the border security package in order to help regain operational control of the southern border. Thune noted that communities across the country are dealing with the harsh realities of the Biden administration’s misguided and dangerous border policies, and he urged the administration to use its power to enforce the laws and focus on improving security at the southern border.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, negotiations continue on border security reforms to be included in the national security supplemental.
“And I am thankful that after three years of chaos at our southern border, Democrats have at least finally come to the table.
“Because it is long past time to get this situation under control.
“As I said, for three years – almost since the day President Biden took office – we’ve confronted chaos at our southern border.
“And rather than improving, this crisis has just grown worse and worse.
“Fiscal year 2021 saw a record-breaking 1,734,686 migrant encounters at our southern border.
“Then fiscal year 2022 broke that record.
“And then fiscal year 2023 broke that record.
“And if fiscal year 2024 continues on its current trajectory, we will end up breaking the record yet again.
“December reportedly saw a staggering 302,000 migrant encounters at our southern border – not only the highest December number ever recorded, but the highest number ever recorded for any month.
“My colleague from Pennsylvania recently compared September’s nearly 270,000 border encounters to having the entire population of Pittsburgh crossing our southern border in one month.
“In one month.
“And the comparison is even more apt with December’s number.
“Mr. President, we can’t afford to be having a major city’s worth of illegal immigrants crossing the border every month.
“As border cities have long known and as major Democrat cities are now finding to their cost, this simply isn’t sustainable.
“New York City, which has seen 150,000-plus migrants enter the city since last spring, is facing cuts to city services as a result of the influx.
“Just yesterday it was reported that Mayor Adams is actually temporarily removing students from their classrooms to house migrants.
“And it’s not just New York that’s overwhelmed.
“So are cities like Denver and Chicago.
“The mayor of Chicago recently noted that the situation his city and others are facing is ‘unsustainable.’
“So there are massive practical problems associated with having a city’s worth of people coming across our southern border each month.
“But the even bigger concern is the national security crisis this represents.
“Our nation cannot be secure while we have hundreds of thousands of migrants flooding across our southern border each month – frequently to end up released into the U.S. with court dates years into the future.
“The sheer volume smooths the way for criminals, terrorists, and other dangerous individuals to make their way into our country.
“And there are dangerous individuals trying to make their way into our country.
“During the first two months of fiscal year 2024 alone, 30 individuals on the terrorist watchlist were apprehended at our southern border.
“That’s roughly one every other day.
“Fiscal year 2023 saw 169 individuals on the terrorist watchlist apprehended at our southern border – more than the previous six fiscal years combined.
“And if we continue on our current trajectory, we will break the 2023 record this year.
“That is deeply concerning.
“And, Mr. President, those are just the individuals the Border Patrol has actually apprehended.
“We have no way of knowing how many dangerous individuals have entered our country over the past few years without being apprehended.
“Since the beginning of fiscal year 2021, there have been more than 1.7 million known gotaways – individuals the Border Patrol saw but was unable to apprehend.
“Since October 1 alone, there have been more than 83,000 known gotaways.
“That’s 83,000 individuals entering our country without our knowing who they are, why they’re here, or where in the United States they’re going.
“And there is no telling how many unknown gotaways there have been.
“With the current chaos at our southern border, there is no question that some individuals are managing to make it into the U.S. completely undetected.
“And with so many illegal immigrants arriving at our border these days planning to get caught so they can take advantage of the Biden administration’s lax asylum and parole policies, it’s especially concerning to see these gotaways working to evade Border Patrol.
“Some of them may indeed be entering the United States simply hoping for a better life.
“But it’s highly likely that a number of them have more malign intentions.
“Mr. President, we are a nation of immigrants.
“My own grandfather was an immigrant.
“And immigrants have helped build this country into what it is today.
“And I am a strong supporter of legal immigration.
“But we are also a nation of laws.
“And we will only be able to remain a nation of laws as long as the law is respected and enforced.
“Immigration needs to be legal.
“And we need to know who is coming into our country and why.
“And so I am very much hoping that in the very near future, the ongoing border negotiations will produce real reforms that will help us finally regain operational control of our southern border.
“Three years of chaos is three years too many.
“It’s time to get this done.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”