About 80 miles from the U.S.Mexico border sits Sacred Heart Burial Park in Falfurrias, Texas. There, spread across three sections of the graveyard, lies a somber sight: Row upon row of small aluminum markers bearing a serial number. Buried under them lie the remains of human beings, casualties of the lawlessness at our border and in our immigration policies.
Sterile descriptions like “Unknown male,” “Unknown female,” “Bones” or “Skull” are all that memorialize daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers. The cemetery is at once a chilling and inadequate monument to those who died anonymously far from loved ones and a foreshadowing of what continues to lie in store if things are not brought under control.
In the last 10 years, Brooks County — home to Falfurrias and Sacred Heart Burial Park — has recovered the bodies of more than 600 illegal immigrants who died crossing the desert. One can’t blame them for wanting to come here. But one can blame those in Washington whose inaction and political games have allowed the tragedy to continue for so long.
At the same time, those of us who live in border states like Texas know the terrible cost that unchecked, unvetted illegal immigration can visit on American citizens. Vile criminals and gang members routinely infiltrate the Central American masses and pass unnoticed into our country.
One case in Houston almost seems too nightmarish to be true. Two MS-13 gang members, both illegal immigrants, shot a 15-year-old girl in the head and chest because they felt she had disrespected their Satanic rituals. And such horror stories are far from uncommon: According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, between June 1, 2011, and June 30, 2019, more than 200,000 illegal aliens were charged with more than 313,000 criminal offenses, including 567 arrests on homicide charges.
But the lesson of Falfurrias is that the damage cuts both ways — neither Americans nor migrants are exempt from the terrible cost of our porous border. It is unsustainable for us to open our arms to every downtrodden Central American who wants to come here; it is counterproductive to encourage the band-aid solution of mass migration from troubled countries in need of fundamental domestic reform; and it is downright inhumane for Congress to sit on its hands while a leaky border incentivizes vulnerable migrants to endanger their lives on a perilous journey.
The crisis on the border is a crisis of lawlessness. Over the last decade, lawlessness has gripped all things immigration from head to foot. From President Barack Obama’s unilateral legalization of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants (which has helped attract countless unaccompanied minors), to the exploitation of our outdated asylum laws by coyotes and human smugglers, the rule of law is nowhere to be found.
Only a strong intervention from the greatest lawmaking body in the world can halt the downward spiral. Border authorities need stronger laws and significantly more resources — a wall, more agents, more immigration judges — to have any hope of dealing with the unprecedented inflows.
The supplemental funding package recently signed into law is a decent start, but it is woefully insufficient. Congress must address the root cause of the crisis: Border security and our broken asylum laws. The hallmark of our immigration system for the next decade should be peace and order — not unmarked graves.
• Ken Paxton is the attorney general of Texas.