Earlier this month, I visited McAllen, Texas, a border town situated in the Rio Grande Valley. This was my second trip to witness the humanitarian crisis on the border. The first was in 2019 to El Paso, Texas. I can attest that the situation at our southern border has deteriorated into something much worse.
Let me be clear: the crisis at our southern border is not just an issue for “border states” like Arizona and Texas. The crisis affects every single American, regardless of political party or opinion on how to best address the issue. The work that United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents perform in border towns such as McAllen has a direct impact on you, your family, and our American way of life — a life that migrants risk everything to obtain for themselves. CBP is working tirelessly to keep us safe from the dangerous cartels running rampant south of the border.
Every single day, thousands of pounds of narcotics flood across our borders, headed straight for our streets. Too often, cartel kingpins who rule the border use families and young children as trojan horses, and they have it down to a science. Their formula is simple, and it relies on deception. At first, cartels pretend to be humanitarians. They shuttle people in search of the American dream across the border into the hands of federal agents. Meanwhile, their recruits sneak millions of dollars of narcotics into our nation. This occurs because CBP is overwhelmed processing and providing life-saving medical care to migrants. CBP agents told me they estimate 17,000 “got-aways” this year alone in the Rio Grande Valley. This statistic only accounts for the people they have seen via drone, camera, or footprints. While agents are pulled off the front lines to process and care for migrants, our national security — and the health of our nation — suffers.
The basics of successful border protection involve a three-pronged approach: personnel (agent presence), technology (drones, cameras, etc.), and infrastructure (physical barriers). According to the boots on the ground, the recent migrant surge is a direct result of policy changes. Insufficient support paired with minimal consequences for unlawful entry is deteriorating border security at a rapid pace.
Since the beginning of 2021, illegal border crossings have risen by 971%. As a member of Congress, it is my responsibility to take what I learned from agents on the ground and relay their concerns and suggestions to both the administration and leaders in Congress. We can turn this crisis around with leadership from the Biden Administration. I have advocated for CBP’s needs and, alongside my colleagues, have offered solutions to rectify the current surge.
America is the greatest country in the world. This is a statement you’ve heard me say before, and one I will continue to repeat. A compassionate end to the humanitarian crisis at our southern border is within reach. It is time for us to set aside the partisan rhetoric and work together toward common sense solutions.
Congressman Troy Balderson represents Ohio’s 12th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.