The ongoing national security and humanitarian crisis along our southern border is worsening and action is sorely needed to deal with it. Since October 2018, there have been 271,140 apprehensions by U.S. Border Patrol, a staggering number of migrants that are overwhelming our border patrol agents and support personnel. Law enforcement officers have encountered 1,522 criminal aliens with outstanding wants or warrants out of 2,034 total criminal aliens encountered. On top of that, agents have also apprehended 370 gang affiliated border crossers, and have seized 123,960 pounds of marijuana, 8,544 pounds of cocaine, 4,448 pounds of methamphetamine, 208 pounds of heroin and 114 pounds of fentanyl since October. To put 100 pounds of fentanyl in perspective, the amount of fentanyl seized contains enough lethal doses to kill nearly 52 million people. No matter how you look at this crisis, the need for action is clear.
Thankfully, action is finally on the way. Earlier this week, I proudly voted with 181 of my colleagues in the House to uphold President Trump’s veto of H.J. Res. 46, a resolution that would have terminated President Trump’s national emergency declaration regarding the crisis on our border. Now that this resolution has been vetoed, the national emergency declaration will go into effect. President Trump’s action is long overdue and is a meaningful step toward securing our southern border. The declaration will allow the President’s request to repurpose $5.7 billion in previously appropriated funding to build a physical barrier previously authorized by the Secure Fence Act of 2006. On top of this, I’ve voted for Congress to provide an additional $2.94 billion toward wall construction over the last two fiscal years. While I would have preferred providing all of this funding through the regular appropriations process, Congressional Democrats have made clear they are unwilling to negotiate with the president or to take action on the crisis.
I believe the president has made a clear argument for why he took this action and supported it with legal precedent under the National Emergencies Act (10 U.S.C. §§ 2808, 12302) and anti-drug and -crime laws (10 U.S.C. § 284 and 31 U.S.C. § 9705). President Trump is not the first president to declare a national emergency, with 59 national emergencies having been previously declared. Democrats who are now opposed to the president’s action were very supportive of President Obama’s executive action to direct the Department of Homeland Security to allow certain individuals living in our country illegally the ability to register and avoid deportation. This action has led to the current crisis because it incentivized many Central Americans to make the dangerous trek to our borders by giving them the false hope they will eventually be given amnesty.
We have thousands of immigrants waiting for their citizenship applications to be reviewed who have followed all the rules and just want to live the American dream. I strongly support immigration reform, but reform has to begin with border security. Reform also should find a fair path forward for those who have lived their whole life in the U.S. but were brought here illegally as children. In the 115th Congress I supported legislation that would grant citizenship to non-citizens who joined the military and fought to protect our freedoms, and I also supported H.R. 4760, the Securing America’s Future Act, which would have improved our border security, reformed our visa programs, and included a path toward legal status for those who were brought into the country illegally as children. Unfortunately, Democrats also refused to engage on substantive reform efforts.
Border security and immigration reform are linked together and should be addressed at the same time. It is time for Congressional Democrats to stop playing politics with our national security and work with President Trump and Republicans to address these issues once and for all.