By Congressman Tom Cole
Every year, the United States welcomes nearly one million immigrants entering our country legally and lawfully. That is more than any other nation in the world. While both Republicans and Democrats agree that immigration reform is needed, President Biden’s policy reform by executive action is severely misguided and irresponsible. And as we have seen in recent months, the consequences of his open border policies are endangering American citizens.
I remain alarmed by the lack of leadership from the Biden Administration, which has led to the ongoing humanitarian, public health and security crisis at our southern border. Moreover, although Vice President Kamala Harris was tasked by President Biden with addressing and solving the crisis at our southern border on March 24, she only recently made plans to visit and see the situation firsthand. In the meantime, the emergency has severely worsened.
Following the president’s reversal of certain immigration policies by executive order, drug cartels are taking full advantage of Biden’s open borders to smuggle in record amounts of fentanyl and other deadly synthetic opioids. In fact, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the total weight of fentanyl seized at the southern border has increased 233 percent during the last several months – compared to the entire year before. And these figures are only the numbers for opioids actually seized and kept out of our communities. Unfortunately, drug smugglers are also getting these dangerous substances across the border without a trace, and now many states across the country are experiencing a spike in fentanyl and other opioid-related deaths.
Sadly, the trafficking of dangerous drugs is just one of the consequences of President Biden’s open border. According to CPB, more than 17,000 illegal migrants were unaccompanied minors in April alone, and it is projected that as many as 184,000 unaccompanied children could reach the border by the end of September. Such a journey is not only unsafe for these children since it could lead to sexual exploitation or forced labor, but it could also strain America’s foster care systems that already have been stretched thin by the coronavirus pandemic.
Indeed, upon arrival, unaccompanied children must first be placed into foster care before they can be placed with another family or relatives already living in the United States. With already 420,000 children in our foster care system, hundreds of thousands more is unsustainable and could make it difficult for any child to be properly cared for.
In addition to the trafficking of dangerous drugs and vulnerable children across the border, COVID-19 and its mysterious variants are also coming in. Since migrant holding facilities are overcrowded, there is no way to keep migrants safely socially distanced. Moreover, migrants are not consistently being tested for COVID-19 before either their transport to another facility or actual release into our country. This failure to test migrants violates the Biden Administration’s own public health guidance for American citizens traveling into the country from anywhere else in the world. Interestingly, during a hearing of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, even Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted that these practices violate guidance issued for travelers by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
After reversing President Trump’s effective immigration and border security policies, President Biden has created a crisis of historic proportions. By essentially opening borders and signaling promises of amnesty, we have a situation that is out of control and worsening by the day. In the coming days and weeks ahead, I hope the Biden Administration will finally listen to the officials on the ground and those who have observed the emergency firsthand. For the safety and security of American citizens and vulnerable migrants as well, President Biden must act now to secure the southern border.