- - Tuesday, August 6, 2019


The border crisis continues even though the number of people caught trying to enter illegally has dropped substantially. The numbers really are staggering. More than 3,000 people a day are caught or surrender. We are down from more than 140,000 illegal aliens apprehended in May to just under 100,000 in June. 

There are several reasons that the numbers have decreased. President Trump issued a commonsense proclamation that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would begin deporting illegal aliens who have gone through the court system and have received a removal order from immigration judge. This sends chills through the spines of the cartels and their human trafficking clients. And it takes away an incentive to come here illegally, so fewer people come.

Mr. Trump demanded that Mexico assist in slowing the flow of illegal migrants at the risk of receiving a 5 percent tariff. The open-borders crowd howled, but the Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, came to the table and agreed to help. He deployed more than 21,000 National Guard troops, some to Mexico’s southern border and some to its border with the United States. But the duration of that deployment has already expired. If Mexico removes its troops, the deterrent they have provided will also be removed.

The heat of the summer months in the Southwest also provides a disincentive to make the trek.

My colleagues and I have just returned from the border. I have been to the border many times over the past few years, and I am always amazed that the Democrats cannot perceive that their open-borders rhetoric and suggestions of free health care and decriminalization of illegal entry only serves as a magnet for illegal entries.

The El Paso sector still catches more than 300 illegal aliens a day, most of whom surrender to nearby Border Patrol agents. A few nights ago, we witnessed a Brazilian family and Cuban adult female surrender to agents within 20 minutes of our arrival at the border. They came across where there was no fence.

We inspected Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) holding facilities and ICE detention facilities. They are as we have always seen them: Clean, and provisioned with food, clothing, hygiene products, water fountains and water coolers. There are juices and sports drinks also available. Medical professionals are present on site or immediately available when necessary.

The agents who work in these facilities are professionals who do their job with integrity, dedication and courage. The slanderous vipers in Congress who make up stories to promulgate a viciously self-promoting narrative are not telling the truth. During our trip, we were told that the author of the “drinking-out-of-the-toilet” story simply doesn’t speak Spanish well enough to understand the difference between a “bathroom” (which includes a drinking fountain) and “toilet” (which is where one eliminates waste). 

Cartels bus hundreds of illegal aliens every few days to one of the remote ports of entry we visited. For example, a load of 225 people had just been processed when we arrived at the Antelope Wells, New Mexico Port of Entry. The nearest CBP facility is hours away. The logistics and staffing needed to move these people from a facility designed to inspect automobiles crossing the border is draining. Our CBP resources have shifted to transport and humanitarian duties rather than protecting the border.

The ranchers and border dwellers we visited continue to encounter, sometimes violent, illegal aliens trespassing through their private property. Like all of the agents in ICE and CBP, the ranchers often end up saving the lives of depleted aliens who are lost or who have been deserted by the human traffickers they have paid thousands of dollars to guide them to our border.

Local communities we visited are financially exhausted from trying to provide police, emergency and humanitarian services. The Tucson sector has very few of the groups cross, but instead have a plethora of drug smugglers crossing that end up in our communities all over the country.

Angel parents who have been permanently separated or victimized by criminally violent illegal aliens, many of whom have been deported multiple times, have suffered incalculably.

The cost of all this is hundreds of billions of dollars per year.

While our agents are coping with an almost unmanageable situation with great professionalism, I have heard members of Congress accuse them of murder, torture and of running Nazi-style concentration camps. Others have suggested offering illegal border crossers more benefits than we give to our citizens and legal residents.

The steps President Trump has undertaken to gain the help of Mexico and enforce our internal laws is the best way to overcome this crisis. If we were to deport 10,000 of the 1 million people who have orders to leave the U.S., those thinking of paying the cartels $8,000 to be brought to the U.S. border, would reconsider their plans.

Although the crisis at the border has been improved, it is still a crisis of historical proportions. We must build more fencing, provide aerial assets, and make sure our men and women can staff the line to interdict the people who are trying to enter this country illegally.

Rather than make spurious and inflammatory statements about the men and women trying to protect our nation, Congress should act immediately to also change our asylum laws, correct the Flores directives and provide resources needed on the border. 

• Andy Biggs is a Republican U.S. representative from Arizona.

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