We have a crisis at our southern border, a crisis made worse by the dysfunction in Washington, D.C.
Illegal immigration and illicit materials — especially illegal drugs — coming across our borders have strained government resources and overwhelmed agencies charged with border security and immigration enforcement.
According to an analysis by the Department of Homeland Security, more than 60,000 migrants have arrived at our border over the last three months. Of those 60,000 migrants, 85 percent illegally crossed our border. Last year, families and unaccompanied alien minors made up 40 percent of all crossings. The previous record was 28 percent.
For decades, under both Republican and Democrat administrations, illegal immigration went unchecked and border security faltered. The result is a broken immigration system that makes our communities less safe and peddles perverse incentives that put vulnerable people, especially children, at risk. Often forced to make this dangerous journey alone, they face sexual abuse, violent crime, and other risks to their safety.
The good news was that both parties appeared to finally recognize the problem. In fact, just a few years ago, Sen. Chuck Schumer said, “If you're going to get bipartisan support and get [an immigration] bill done, you're going to have to do something on the border." In 2010, former Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said, "I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in."
In the years since, the only thing that has changed is the occupant in the White House. It’s time for Democrats in Congress to work seriously with President Trump and Republicans to keep our communities safe and uphold the rule of law. After all, that's what they used to want.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of the crisis at our southern border is that this situation was entirely preventable. Last year, I joined with other members in the House in voting for two bills that secured the border once and for all, reformed the broken asylum process, resolved the problem of family separation, and provided long-term certainty to those who were brought here as children. Unfortunately, that legislation was bogged down by partisan politics from extreme ends on both sides of the aisle.
Turn the calendar to one year later, and the crisis has only gotten worse. The Washington politicians who once claimed support for a barrier along our southern border are now calling it immoral. And with each passing day, the government shutdown adds a day to its already record length.
The American people deserve to feel safe. They deserve knowing that their government is doing all it can to make our country more secure, and that everyone crossing our border is accounted for. They also deserve certainty — the certainty of knowing that their government won’t be shut down because Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer refuse to strengthen our borders.
As I’ve long said, I’m willing to find common ground with anyone, but I will not compromise my values. We need to find a solution out of this mess. It’s vitally important that we secure our borders to keep our communities safe. We must also address our broken immigration system or this crisis is only going to get bigger.