Yesterday the Department of Homeland Security released new numbers showing 76,000 illegal aliens crossed the southern border into the United States in February, a significant increase from the 58,000 individuals who crossed in January.
Today Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham is holding a hearing about the problem.
"Contrary to what some political opponents and media outlets claim the situation at our southern border is dangerous and growing worse. It’s not a hoax. It’s not a manufactured crisis. It’s not a cable television ploy. It is real. It is serious. It is a threat. And it poses a direct challenge to the safety and security of the citizens of the United States. To believe otherwise is to deny reality and ignore the facts," Graham said. "Here are the facts from the first 5 months of this fiscal year. We are witnessing an almost 55% increase in the number of unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border over the same time period last year - an almost 340% increase in the number of family units apprehended from same time period last year."
A crisis at the border is raging. Border Patrol agents are using their time to take care of families, rather than fully focusing on criminal aliens, violent drug cartels and other national security threats to American communities.
For months, officials at the Department of Homeland Security and in the White House have been begging Congress to change the laws enabling this problem. During his opening statement, Graham did the same and detailed how lawmakers can work to stem the increasing flow of illegal immigration.
"It is no coincidence that these two groups – unaccompanied minors and family units – are crossing the border at an alarming rate. Our immigration laws require that both unaccompanied children and family units be released into the interior of the United States after apprehension," Graham said. "This is due to two legal loopholes in our immigration system: the Flores settlement agreement and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). Flores requires children (or those with children, so family units) to be released after 20 days in custody. The TVPRA requires unaccompanied alien children from non-contiguous countries (countries that do not border the United States) to be released to Health and Human Services care facilities instead of being sent back to their countries of origin."
"I have worked for over a decade to fix our nation’s broken immigration system. If we do not fix these two legal loopholes, then we are only continuing to fuel the smuggling of persons trade from the Northern Triangle. These laws incentivize smugglers to exploit migrants who seek to come to the United States and stay," he continued. "They know our legal system better than many of us, and they profit greatly off the most vulnerable. Smugglers don’t care how they do their job, or whether migrants are raped, tortured, or starved on the journey. They care about making a profit. Last year, smugglers made $2.5 billion smuggling migrants."
Democrats have given no indication they are willing to close the loopholes outlined by Graham. Without action on these specific issues, the humanitarian and illegal immigration crisis will continue. With the numbers of family units and unaccompanied minors rapidly increasing, the situation is unsustainable.