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ICYMI: Hartzler: I was at the border. Biden’s border initiatives are cruel, not compassionate.

June 7, 2021
Press Release

I was at the border. Biden’s border initiatives are cruel, not compassionate
Washington Examiner
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)
June 7, 2021

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/bidens-border-initiatives-cruel-not-compassionate
 
When I landed in El Paso, I had an idea what to expect. With each passing month, Americans learn more and more about the growing number of illegal border crossings our U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents encounter. April saw a 20-year record: more than 178,000 illegal immigrants in one month. This brought the five-month total to more than 725,000 — close to the number of people living in my congressional district.
 
As I spoke to our agents, it was clear this border crisis has made their jobs overwhelming. Simply put, they are being overworked on many fronts with little support from the White House.
 
At the El Paso North Border Crossing Station for the Customs and Border Patrol HQ, we saw a normal pedestrian and vehicle processing center that had been overhauled to hold children at the beginning of the year but is no longer used as the border patrol has built additional facilities. Many of the newly constructed or transitioned housing facilities are demanding serious attention from our CBP agents.
 
I also spent time at Fort Bliss, where the Office of Refugee Resettlement has constructed nine giant tents equipped with more than 1,000 cots per tent to support the increase of 14- to 17-year-old children seen by this year’s unprecedented surge in illegal crossings.
 
While extra time and resources are being diverted away from securing our nation to deal with these issues, the drug and human smuggling operation across the border continues to spiral out of control and flood into America.
 
It’s clear the cartels are waging a drug and human trafficking war against America — and they are winning. They control the entire Mexican side of the border, dictating who can cross their area and at what cost. They threaten local farmers, and in some cases, on the Mexican side, eliminate them. These smugglers also leave immigrants in the desert, where some tragically die. Others show up at the doorsteps of U.S. farmers, starving and collapsing at their feet. Fear and intimidation of U.S. farm families have been caused by the Biden administration’s reluctance to act. No family should have to go through this.
 
To smuggle someone into America, these traffickers are charging an estimated minimum of $4,000 per person. At over 3,000 migrants per day, these illegal and horrific operations bring in close to $12 million every 24 hours — just from human smuggling.
 
And it gets even worse. If a person does not have the required payment necessary for the trip, they could be issued an IOU, which can lead to heinous crimes of sex and human trafficking once they arrive. Sadly, I was told that close to 50% of unaccompanied children do not have a sponsor waiting for them upon arrival. Even when they do have one, a traditional criminal background check is not completed. Regardless of sponsor status, these helpless children are prone to further human trafficking in America.
 
In addition to this tragic activity, I also learned of the perils our border patrol agents face when it comes to drug trafficking. So far this year, border patrol agents have seized more than three tons of fentanyl crossing into the United States. That is enough to kill every single American multiple times. Other drugs that contribute to our nation’s drug epidemic, such as meth and opioids, are also confiscated at record levels.
 
After reading all of this, one might ask, “What can we do to stop this?” There are solutions available to rid our nation of this border crisis.
 
For starters, we must resume the border barrier system, which includes technology and wall construction, to reclaim our national security. We encountered a border wall gate in need of desperate repair during my visit but were told it couldn’t be fixed because of the current administration. Instead, a border patrol agent must be pulled away from other important duties to post guard to cover up the vulnerability. These ridiculous and grossly inefficient Band-Aids should be replaced with a strong wall system that works. After all, many of the supplies needed for construction have already been purchased and are lying next to the halted building sites waiting to be used. They are doing no good sitting there.
 
Second, America must re-institute its “remain in Mexico” policy. By having illegal immigrants remain outside of the U.S. while awaiting their asylum review, we not only save taxpayer money, but we respect the immigrants who are trying to enter our nation by dutifully following our laws and the standard process. That is the system that is fair for everyone.
 
And third, America must work with its Central American partners to secure immigration agreements, much like the Trump administration accomplished. Only then, through a coordinated effort, can we reach stability at our border.
 
Instead, Americans have been told for months that the Biden administration is seeking to achieve a “compassionate” border operation, despite President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris having never traveled to the border to see it for themselves or listen to the border patrol agents.
 
After being on the ground, seeing our heroic CBP officers, and learning of our border’s intense struggles, I can tell you: We are endangering our citizens, incentivizing cruel behavior, and enabling an illegal invasion that will have negative ramifications for years to come. The influx of illegal immigrants into our country is not sustainable. The Biden policy — or lack thereof — has caused this crisis for our nation and for the minors crossing our borders. This is not compassionate. This is cruel.
 
It must be reversed.
 
Vicky Hartzler represents Missouri's 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives and is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee.

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