Facts About the Southern Border
“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
John Adams made this observation almost 250 years ago. I recalled his words when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in arguing against more funding for security at the southern border, claimed that President Trump was “manufacturing a crisis.”
The facts on the border establish that a crisis exists. According to Department of Homeland Security data, 161,000 family units arrived in fiscal year 2018, an increase of 50%, and 60,000 unaccompanied children arrived in the same period, an increase of 25%. Asylum claims have surged an astounding 2,000% in the past five years, although most of these claims will be found invalid after judicial review.
These surging numbers are overwhelming resources on the border and creating a humanitarian, security, and legal crisis.
The Mexican side of the border is often controlled by Mexican criminal cartels or gangs. They charge a fee to “assist” border crossings. To get here, many illegal immigrants put themselves in the hands of these vicious smuggling gangs who are looking for profit and uninterested in basic human dignity. On the dangerous journey to the border, seven out of ten migrants suffer from violence, and 31% of women and 17% of men are sexually assaulted. Too often, the fees these gangs charge are indentured servitude in the sex trade. Porous borders only encourage more business for the gangs who commit these abuses.
Further, more than people are being brought across the border. Increased amounts of illicit substances are entering as well. Meth, trafficked across the border by these cartels into places across the country including Southwest Virginia, increased by 38% from fiscal year 2017 to fiscal year 2018. That same period saw a 22% increase in heroin and an astonishing 73% increase in fentanyl.
Even when current security measures intercept people crossing the border illegally, there isn’t enough room in facilities to detain these individuals until a judicial hearing can be held. Accordingly, most illegal immigrants are released with notice to appear at a hearing in the future. By the time of the hearing, they have disappeared either back into the clutches of the cartels or into the underground economy.
In my opinion, these facts certainly classify the situation on the southern border as a crisis.
President Trump has asked for $5.7 billion to fund a barrier on the southern border and additional funding for personnel.
What’s more, he is willing to negotiate with the Democrats. Congressional Republicans are ready to compromise, also.
In contrast, Democrat leaders refuse to budge. They say they will give him no money for a wall. Speaker Pelosi even called a wall “immoral.”
Her views on a barrier’s immorality may come as a surprise to many on her side of the aisle. When Congress voted on the Secure Fence Act, which provided for 700 miles of fencing, in 2006, it received the support of 64 Democrats in the House and 26 in the Senate, including Chuck Schumer, now the Senate Democrat leader, and then-Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Perhaps Speaker Pelosi should read the comments of then-Senator Obama about his vote: “The bill before us will certainly do some good. It will authorize some badly needed funding for better fences and better security along our borders, and that should help stem some of the tide of illegal immigration in this country.”
Instead, she appears afraid to get to yes on a deal with the President.
Another objection she has raised to the wall is that illegal drugs and other smuggled goods also come through legal ports of entry rather than across the border. President Trump responded by including $675 million to combat this smuggling.
Further, Democrats say the government should be reopened before they come to the table. But when debating immigration last summer, the Democrats never offered to compromise on a wall. When debating spending bills this fall, Democrats never offered to compromise on a wall.
For 30 years, promises of a barrier have been made to the American people, but for the last four months, when the government was “open,” the Democrats didn’t offer a solution. Why should anyone believe they will compromise now?
Reaching a compromise is difficult when one side doesn’t see a problem. This is not a manufactured crisis.
I urge Speaker Pelosi to come to the table. Let’s talk about ways to secure the border, protect the American people, and end the humanitarian crisis.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.