Texas Pays the Price as the Biden Border Crisis Continues
In the last seventh months alone, we've seen over a million people cross illegally into this country, and we are now on pace for over 2 million people for 2021. To put that into perspective, that is roughly the population of Houston, Texas crossing illegally into this country in just one year. The Biden administration has released over 7,000 illegal immigrants who tested positive for COVID. Since the population in McAllen, Texas is 141,000, roughly five percent of McAllen consists of COVID-positive illegal immigrants, released by President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Sadly, these humanitarian, national security, and public health crises are affecting Texans the most.
This past week, I joined my friend Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX-21) in Central and South Texas to survey this ongoing crisis caused by President Biden's reckless immigration policies and hear how Texas families, farmers, ranchers, and local law enforcement are affected.
On Tuesday, we headed to Boerne to participate in a roundtable discussion with community officials and local nonprofits to discuss human and drug trafficking and the impacts of the border crisis on Central Texans. Jaeson Jones, the former Texas Public Safety Captain, and Current Director and CEO of Omni Intelligence Nicole Bishop, Kendall County Criminal District Attorney, Alma Tucker, the founder and President of International Network of Hearts, and Virginia Krieger, an Angel Mom and founder of Parents Against Illicit Narcotics, all joined our discussion.In our roundtable discussion, Central Texas law enforcement and community officials shared with me the true cost of the dangerous drug smuggling and human trafficking coming across our Southern border as it spreads throughout Texas and the rest of the country. We also had the opportunity to speak with an ‘Angel Mom,' who shared the ravages of fentanyl and other drugs that are pouring across the border unchecked and that are murdering kids across our country. We talked with a community leader caring for illegal immigrant children who suffer unspeakable atrocities while being smuggled across the border by violent human traffickers. One of the most striking things we heard in our roundtable is how cartels are taking these illegal immigrants and charging them thousands of dollars to be smuggled across the border in dangerous conditions. These illegal immigrants are then in debt to criminal cartels and could face dangerous repercussions if they cannot repay their fees. It is now clear Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have become the last mile of this human trafficking network because of their policy decisions. I assured the community leaders in Boerne that I would continue leading the fight to secure our Southern border and reinstate the immigration policies of the previous administration that led to the lowest illegal immigration of the last 45 years.
Next, Rep. Roy and I traveled to Uvalde to meet with local officials and Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition Executive Director Clint McDonald, and held a townhall meeting with community members to hear from them. In our townhall, I heard from farmers and ranchers, and every single person there informed me they were concerned for their safety. They told Rep. Roy and me that they are dealing with illegal aliens flowing across their property and cutting down fences-forcing these landowners to spend every day making repairs to protect their property from further damage. Person after person said they are scared for their kids and grandkids to go outside. South Texas farmers and ranchers are afraid that this border crisis will lead to severe violence on their land. People should not be scared in their own homes and on their land.
As my Republican colleagues and I work to secure our border communities, I continue to urge my Democrat colleagues in the Senate to hold a hearing on the border crisis and invite witnesses from South Texas, specifically McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos, to testify before the Judiciary Committee on the devastating impact of this crisis on border communities.
Later that day, we met with Laredo Sector Border Patrol Chief Hudak, Deputy Chief Landrum, and command staff to receive an operational briefing and hear the current tactics utilized by transnational criminal organizations in the Laredo Sector Border Patrol AOR (area of responsibility). We were able to see the Interstate 35 immigration checkpoint and were shown how U.S. Border Patrol utilizes non-intrusive inspection technology to inspect vehicles, K9 deployments, and checkpoint operations. We concluded that day by joining midnight patrol with the National Border Patrol Council members. On patrol, we witnessed a group of illegal aliens attempting to cross the border, and witnessed CBP officials intercept illegal immigrants hiding in a trailer. Rep. Roy and I then went on a night border tour with Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), led by the National Border Patrol Council, to see the frontlines of the crisis firsthand.
The next day, we met with the Mayor of Laredo Pete Saenz, Webb County Judge Tano Tijerinia, Laredo Police Chief Claudio Trevino Jr., along with other officials including TxDPS, Laredo Sector Border Patrol, CBP Office of Field Operations, HSI & ERO to discuss issues affecting the region such as trade, immigration, COVID-19 recovery, and national security. We heard stories of the very real price their community pays because of this crisis. The community leaders spoke to us about the strain on resources from increased crime and their education and healthcare systems as this unconstrained illegal immigration causes spikes of COVID-19 in South Texas communities. They informed me that there is a much higher percentage of people crossing who are attempting to evade capture in the Laredo sector, which leads to more violent encounters with Border Patrol agents. This creates an increasingly hostile environment for our Laredo law enforcement, CBP officials, and first responders, who are already doing an incredibly dangerous job. Another issue brought up by Laredo officials is that the Rio Grande River is next to a dense urban environment, allowing those crossing to quickly disappear into the city. The previous administration had planned to construct a wall in Laredo to aid CBP officials by adding time between detection and apprehension, and I will continue calling for the current Biden administration to properly secure our South Texas communities.
Next, we headed to Roma, Texas, to meet with Susan Kibbe, Executive Director of the South Texans' Property Rights Association, area landowners, and Sheriffs down in Roma, Texas. I heard firsthand how these landowners have found bodies of migrants on their properties and are affected financially with increased migrant pursuits. According to a ranch owner in Brooks County, there have been 4 more deaths on their property, bringing the total to a record of 14 for the year so far. For comparison, during the previous administration's immigration policies, they had only one migrant death on the property. After meeting with Brooks County Sheriff Martinez, he shared with me that there have been 88 migrant deaths county wide.To wrap up our border tour, we met with Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Sector Border Patrol Chief Hastings, Deputy Chief Martinez, along command staff to receive an operational briefing on the ongoing crisis along our southern border. In my RGV sector briefing, we discussed how a very high percentage of family units and unaccompanied children are coming in through this section of the border, and how that creates enormous challenges for the RGV sector CBP. Under the Biden administration policies, these unaccompanied kids and family units are all allowed to stay. That, in turn, is dangerously incentivizing tens of thousands of more children to be handed over to human traffickers, putting more family units in harm's way.
I assured law enforcement and community leaders that I would continue fighting to reinstate commonsense immigration and border policies that ensure the safety and security of South Texas communities. This includes returning to the highly successful ‘Remain in Mexico' policy, fortifying and continuing to construct our border wall, and ending the dangerous ‘catch-and-release' policy of the Biden administration that has flooded communities across the country will illegal immigrants. I also shared with leadership how genuinely grateful I am to the men and women in green for their hard work securing our southern border.
After our meetings, I spoke with local reporters to wrap up our border tour:
"We have a border crisis in our country. It's a crisis that South Texas is on the front lines of. It pays the price, but it impacts the entire country. What is so frustrating, what is so maddening, is that this crisis is man-made. This didn't have to be happening."
"This is in the midst of a global pandemic on COVID where we're seeing the administration releasing illegal immigrants into South Texas, into our communities with very high rates of COVID positivity. This is irresponsible. And it makes no sense. It's also cruel. So many of the immigrants who are coming are children, are family units. I've spent a lot of time down at the border in the last nine years I've served in the Senate. I've never seen it remotely as bad as it is right now."
"I'll tell you a lot of what was expressed around this roundtable. Look around this roundtable, there were Democrats, there were Republicans, there were people across the political aisle. Nobody here in South Texas thinks what's happening on the border makes sense. And I think it is imperative for politicians in Washington to listen to the people of Laredo, to listen to the people of South Texas, and to recognize that this lawlessness has to stop [...] As long as the Biden administration says, ‘We will not enforce the law, we will release the people we apprehend,' the crisis will keep getting worse and worse. That is terrible for Texas. It's terrible for the country."
I have long said it is not compassionate to have an open border. It is not compassionate to have children suffering in the custody of abusive human traffickers. It is not compassionate to allow dangerous drugs to flood our communities. It is not compassionate to ignore the plight of South Texas communities. Texas continues to be on the front lines of this crisis, and South Texas communities have had to bear the brunt of the Biden administration's political decisions. To everyone at Customs and Border Protection (CBP): thank you. We are grateful for your service - it makes a real difference in our communities. While many of you may feel that your jobs are a lot harder now because of Washington politics, I stand with you. I will continue fighting for the current administration to properly confront this crisis and reverse this reckless course for the sake of Texans and Americans across the country.
Keep Texas Strong,