This past weekend I did what President Obama refused to do during his recent trip to Texas—I visited the U.S-Mexico border.
I knew that the border crisis was serious, but nothing could have prepared me for just how bad this situation truly is.
The results of the Obama administration’s lawlessness when it comes to enforcing existing immigration laws were magnified in the Rio Grande Valley, where Congressman Steve King and I visited a number of facilities and met with local, state, and federal officials.
What we saw was people processing, not border security.
Americans would be shocked to learn that virtually no one is stopped before gaining entrance. When a foreign national illegally enters the United States, they are taken to a processing facility, where it is determined whether or not they get to stay in the country.
While the popular media narrative has been to focus on the children who came here alone, it is only a small fraction of the growing problem along the southern border.
My heart breaks for the unaccompanied children, but officials told us that 80 percent of the people entering the country illegally are not women and children—they are males over the age of 14.
It is this latter group that is the source of much of the incoming violence, particularly with their increasing involvement in drug cartels and transnational gangs such as MS-13. These organizations profit from exploiting innocent people desperate for a better life into paying thousands of dollars to be transported into the United States.
MS-13 is a brutal international gang with more than 50,000 members—with thousands of members throughout the United States. This ugly and dangerous business has fueled violence on both sides of the border.
By failing to secure our border, the United States government has enabled and empowered a criminal enterprise made of drug cartels and human traffickers that spans our continent.
Enforcement of our border is so lax that I even witnessed coyotes smuggling an illegal alien in broad daylight near the banks of the Rio Grande in Roma, Texas.
The problem rests not with Border Patrol, but with the politicians and administration officials that crafted these policies. Border Patrol and the local law enforcement officials we met with are dedicated individuals who put their lives on the line, but their hands are tied. In fact, the majority of the local officials we met with said that this crisis is the consequence of open border policies.
Solving the problem will require the political will to secure our border.
First, Congress must put an end to the President’s policy of Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which he unilateral instituted in 2012. DACA is the root cause of why a surge of illegal immigrants are coming into the country expecting amnesty from President Obama. Since his June 15, 2012 memo, the amount of unaccompanied children apprehensions from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have increased from 15,000 in 2011 to nearly 60,000 in FY 2014.
Second, we must complete the fence along America’s southern border to prevent illegal entry onto United States soil. In 2006, Congress passed a bill that authorized and completely funded 700 miles of fence. Eight years later, it remains unfinished and people are simply walking across the border. If there were a fence in Roma, Texas, the illegal crossing I witnessed would not have been possible.
Third, we need to speed up the deportation process and put an end to prosecutorial discretion policies. While legal immigration and refugee petitions remain enormously onerous, our current system benefits illegal immigration. The current policy of reunification instead of orderly and humane deportation only furthers the border crisis.
Finally, agreements on foreign aid to Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras should be reexamined or frozen entirely until these countries cooperate with the United States and do their part in preventing the flow of illegal immigrants through their country and into ours. Remittance payments to these countries should also be taxed at a rate high enough to command the attention of their governments.
The United States is proudly a nation of immigrants that welcomes with open arms more legal immigrants than the entire world combined. But they must come through the legal channels. It’s time that we start sending a message that the rule of law matters and illegal behavior will not be rewarded.