There is a tsunami hitting our nation’s southern border. It’s been splashed all over the news – images of hundreds of teenagers and children cramped in holding centers in South Texas. They’re arriving in unprecedented numbers, making the dangerous journey from Central America through Mexico and then walking miles across a hostile border environment, assisted by smugglers, to enter the United States in violation of the law.
According to Deputy Border Patrol Chief, Ronald Vitiello, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expects to apprehend more than 90,000 unaccompanied minors on the border just this year. It’s not just young people who are arriving – adults bringing along minors are also coming. As of mid-June, DHS had seen more than 50,000 minors and 40,000 family members attempting to cross into the U.S. since October, and there are no signs of it stopping.
According to a Rio Grande Valley Sector Intelligence Report from May, when these individuals were asked why they made the journey, approximately 95 percent said the main reason was to take advantage of the “new” U.S. “law” that grants a “free pass” or permit being issued by the U.S. government to women traveling with minors and unaccompanied alien minors. While no new law has been enacted, the truth is that the Obama administration has dramatically altered immigration enforcement policies on its own.
President Obama’s refusal to enforce our immigration laws has resulted in an Administration-made crisis along our southern border. Word has spread about the Administration’s lax immigration enforcement policies and it has encouraged thousands of children, teenagers, and families to come to the U.S. illegally.
In response to this alarming problem, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Wednesday to hear directly from those who are witnessing the disastrous effects of the President’s policies on the border. Senior Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol officials testified before the Committee on the wave of minors they have seen at the border and how their operations have been impacted. At the hearing, an ice official confirmed that once these minors arrive at our border, they are likely to be in the U.S. for years. ice was only able to remove 1,800, or just 7 percent, of the roughly 25,000 apprehended last year.
I will continue seeking answers from the Administration about what they actually plan to do to end this crisis and what is being done with the minors and families who have already entered the country. Our borders are not an open door for illegal entry to the United States. The Administration’s failure to secure our borders or enforce our immigration laws only undermines Congress’s ability to reform immigration laws. Enforcement of our laws at the border and in the interior of the U.S. is crucial to end these kinds of situations, not more bureaucratic actions that stretch the law and ignore the root of the problem.
Bob Goodlatte represents the Sixth District in Congress.