Help Ukraine Protect Its Borders. Protect Our Own, Too.
Recent data on illegal immigration under President Biden remind me of the ancient proverb, “Physician, heal thyself.”
On March 16, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Members of Congress including me. He asked for more assistance in his country’s war to repel Russian invaders. Later that day, President Biden announced that the United States would deliver $800 million more in aid to Ukraine.
I support helping Ukraine in its fight to defend its own borders. But our country has borders that need defending, too, a responsibility the Biden Administration has abdicated.
For more than a year, new records have been set at the southern border. Illegal immigrants, seeing President Biden take office pledging to dismantle enforcement and following through on his promise, continue to make their way to the border in huge numbers.
February 2022 was no exception. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) encountered 164,973 migrants last month, up 7% from January and 63% from February 2021. In fact, these numbers have not been seen in a February since the year 2000, during the second term of the Clinton Administration.
President Biden entered office with a border under control and has presided over its undoing. More data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) helps illuminate why so many illegal immigrants take the risks involved in traveling to the border.
In its report for fiscal year (FY) 2021, ICE revealed that it deported 59,011 illegal immigrants, a steep reduction from 185,884 in FY 2020. The Washington Post reported that deportations have not been so low since 1995, during the first term of the Clinton Administration.
In another indicator of lax enforcement, ICE made 74,082 administrative arrests in FY 2021. This total contrasts with an average of 148,000 annually from FYs 2017 to 2019 – a decrease of roughly half.
For individuals contemplating an attempt to cross the southern border illegally, these statistics offer an incentive to make that trek. If they are able to enter the country, they face a far less serious chance of being apprehended and deported than in recent years.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defends weakened enforcement by claiming that his department prioritizes “quality” arrests of illegal immigrants, such as those with criminal records.
Yet a March 16 Washington Times article that obtained unpublished ICE data demonstrated that even by that metric, the Biden Administration is failing. In FY 2021, ICE arrested 48% fewer convicted criminals, deported 63% fewer criminals, and issued 46% fewer detainers, which are requests to other law enforcement agencies to turn over for deportation illegal immigrants who have been picked up for other offenses.
No wonder the Western States Sheriffs’ Association voted unanimously that it had “no confidence” in the performance of the Biden Administration’s border czar, Vice President Harris.
These indicators all suggest that the Biden Administration does not take border security seriously. Other indicators emphasize why it should take border control seriously.
Take the latest tragic milestone in our country regarding drug overdoses. A new annual record was set for the twelve-month period ending in October 2021: 105,752 drug overdose deaths. Fentanyl-related substances drove this increase. Many of these substances are sourced from China, manufactured in Mexico, and smuggled across the border by drug cartels.
An unsecure border permits smuggling of deadly substances such as fentanyl, undermines the rule of law, allows into our country individuals of unvetted background, and makes a mockery of the legal immigration process. These problems are serious, and even if they do not rise to the immediate urgency of what is happening in Ukraine, they are happening here in our country, and under the Biden Administration, they continue to worsen.
Just as President Zelenskyy wants to solve his country’s pressing problems, and so asked for our help, the president of our country should want to solve our country’s pressing problems. The evidence for that, however, is thin.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405, my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671, or my Washington office at 202-225-3861. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also, on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.