Arrests at America’s southern borders are surging, and the crisis is the worst it has been in decades. According to data released this week from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, border agents made more than 200,000 arrests along the border in March. That is the busiest month in the past twenty years. The United States has made more than one million arrests at the southern border since October 2021. That is the fastest pace of illegal border crossings in at least two decades.
Things will likely worsen in the next month as the Biden administration is preparing to lift Title 42 on May 23, 2022. The Trump administration implemented the policy during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing border agents to quickly turn away people who are arrested trying to enter the United States illegally.
Of the 1.01 million crossings this year, roughly half resulted in the person being expelled under Title 42. Biden administration officials acknowledge that revoking the policy will likely lead to a massive rise in illegal border crossings. Yet they show no signs of pulling back on their plans to lift Title 42.
Ironically, it took a federal judge to force the Biden administration to stop requiring passengers on domestic flights to wear a face mask. Yet, the same people want to open the floodgates to illegal aliens without regard to their health status.
We already see the consequences of failing to deal with the border crisis effectively. At the end of 2021, we learned that drug overdoses surpassed 100,000 last year. Nearly two-thirds of the drug overdose deaths in the past fiscal years were from synthetic opioids— primarily fentanyl.
The crisis at the southern border has allowed fentanyl and other deadly drugs to flow into the United States. Fentanyl seizures were up more than 1,000 percent at eight Texas border ports last year.
I still remember visiting the southern border with Texas Governor Greg Abbott in 2015. We had major concerns about those involved with drug, firearm, and human trafficking coming across the border without significant opposition from the federal government. Tragically, the crisis has gotten much worse since that trip.
Those who think that this only affects border states are sorely mistaken. According to data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, there was a 34% increase in opioid deaths in my state last year. Similar trends can be seen in places all across the country.
Americans see a surge of illegal drugs and firearms flow into their communities. The crisis could hit epic levels with federal officials set to lift Title 42 in less than a month. Besides blocking the repeal of Title 42, what else can be done to correct this crisis?
First, finish building the wall along our southern border. Much of the materials to complete the task are still there from when the Biden administration shut down construction. Plus, officials in Texas have taken significant action to put up major portions of the barrier needed to secure the border. Finish the job.
Second, make the “Remain in Mexico” policy permanent. These protocols require immigrants seeking asylum to stay in Mexico while waiting for an immigration judge to consider their application. The program helped with the border crisis after it was implemented in 2019. Make it permanent.
Next, immediately deport all illegal alien criminals and gang members. We need fewer criminals in America, not more. We need to prosecute criminals who organize illegal drugs, firearms, and human trafficking.
We also need a nationwide ban on sanctuary cities. All levels of government must uniformly enforce federal laws that protect the safety of our citizens.
Require employers to use E-Verify to ensure that their employees are authorized to work in the United States. The federal government should fund the system.
Implement a legal immigration system that ensures those coming into the country are capable of work and have arranged for employment and housing. Just as we did at Ellis Island, the government must ensure that people legally entering America will not become dependent on the government. We want makers, not takers.
America continues to be a beacon for those who seek freedom and opportunity. Each year, more than 1 million people legally immigrate to the United States from around the world. We have four times more foreign-born citizens than the next closest country. We welcome those who want to come here legally, work hard, and seek their piece of the American Dream.
We must secure our borders. Opening up the floodgates next month with a repeal of Title 42 is not the answer. Instead, implementing the reforms, I just spelled out will work to correct this national security and public health issue. We must act now.
• Scott Walker is the president of Young America’s Foundation and served as the 45th governor of Wisconsin from 2011 to 2019.