A humanitarian crisis. A national security crisis. A public health crisis. That’s the reality at our southern border. We’re nearly seven months into the Biden Administration, and they are refusing to step up and take action.

It’s hard to ignore the facts. 210,000 illegal immigrants were encountered at the southern border last month—the most we’ve seen in over 20 years. Just recently, about 50,000 migrants who illegally crossed the border were released into our country without a court date. And in one border town in Texas, over 7,000 COVID-19 positive migrants have been released by the federal government since February, including over 1,500 in the last week alone.

The lack of leadership and poor policy decisions by the Biden Administration is astounding and has directly affected the safety, security, and health of all Americans. The president put a stop to construction of the border wall and reversed the successful “Remain in Mexico” policy. These two decisions alone have led to an influx of migrants attempting to enter our country—including a record number of unaccompanied children making the dangerous journey to our southern border.

The sad reality is that our border patrol agents do not have the bandwidth to handle this surge of migrants. In fact, U.S. Border Patrol is over-capacity in seven of their nine sectors on the southwest border. That means many migrants are living in facilities that do not have the resources to take care of them. It also requires our border patrol agents to spend more energy caring for them while violent cartels continue to traffic dangerous drugs and humans across our porous border.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, fentanyl was the primary driver of the more than 90,000 tragic deaths by drug overdoses in 2020. And the amount of fentanyl being smuggled across our border has only increased. From January to April 2021, border agents seized almost 2,400 more pounds of fentanyl than during the same period in 2020. These drugs are continuing to flow across our border and into communities across our country.

In March, President Biden dismissed the rising number of migrants arriving at the border as something that happens, “every single, solitary year.” But, as the report noted, “six months into his term, Biden and his team are being proved wrong.”

It’s time for the Administration to wake up and face reality. Our border patrol agents need to be enforcing our laws and stopping the dangerous traffickers from shepherding illicit drugs across the border and into our communities, not babysitting unaccompanied minors and families at overcrowded facilities. Unless we make some real changes, these problems will only get worse.

The Biden Administration must change course. Step one, secure the border—and that includes resuming construction of the border wall. Step two, re-enact the previous administration’s policy to encourage migrants to apply for asylum in their home country, instead of making the dangerous trip to the U.S. southern border. These two actions alone would help ease the burden on our law enforcement and border patrol, allow them to do the jobs they were assigned to do, and keep all Americans safe.

Senator Joni Ernst – Official Portrait

Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.