I just returned home from a trip to Del Rio, Texas, and Eagle Pass, Texas, to see the security and humanitarian crisis at our southern border firsthand. With the Biden Administration continuing to restrict media access at the border, it was especially important for me to peel back the curtain and show Iowans precisely what we are facing.
Let me be clear: the current circumstances are a direct result of the Biden Administration’s policies and rhetoric that effectively put an “open” sign on our Southern Border and incentivized the wave of illegal immigration we are now experiencing. This is a crisis, whether the President wants to call it that or not.
The Biden Administration and Democrat leaders like Speaker Pelosi have willfully ignored the chaos ensuing at our border—they have adopted an out of sight, out of mind approach. The day before I left for the border, Speaker Pelosi even said that “things at the border were heading in the right direction.” I am sure the human traffickers, drug cartels, and gang members agree with her. I am sure the children and women abused, Iowans suffering from the opioid epidemic, and families ripped apart by senseless gang violence do not.
Ironically, as we set out for Eagle Pass, Texas, at dawn the next day, I saw the news that an all-time high of 19,000 unaccompanied children were currently in federal custody at the border, a 100% increase from February. That’s not exactly what I would call the right direction, but Speaker Pelosi and I disagree regularly.
Our day started at a U.S. Department of Homeland Security detention facility in Eagle Pass, Texas. This is an overflow shelter the government opened after running out of room at our regular holding centers. The facility had only been open for about a week and was primarily being used to hold unaccompanied minors—children who are making the dangerous trek all alone. As a mom, it was devastating to see these kids, many of whom are younger than my own two sons, there all alone. I can’t imagine what they endured on the journey over and how scared they must have been without their parents.
I’m calling on @SpeakerPelosi to come see the crisis I’m seeing at the southern border today and talk to our law enforcement officers on the ground. This crisis is a safety and security issue for border communities and our communities in Iowa. It’s time to take action. #IA01 pic.twitter.com/qP6t16NM9r
— Ashley Hinson (@RepAshleyHinson) April 8, 2021
The security and humanitarian crises are compounding. I learned that 35 percent of Border Patrol officers are no longer manning their regular posts and are instead tending to facilities like the one in Eagle Pass. This is leaving major vulnerabilities along our border where we need boots on the ground to manage the surge.
I also had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable with law enforcement officers, local sheriffs, and Border Patrol agents who work along the Del Rio sector and Eagle Pass. They were abundantly clear – their resources are strapped, and they are completely overwhelmed right now. They are not currently equipped to handle the emboldened cartels and traffickers who are exploiting the security gaps at the border.
They are not only seeing significant increases in illegal crossings but in violent encounters, human trafficking, and drug smuggling. Cartels are making $11 million per week in the Del Rio sector alone, and drug lords are sending illicit drugs here in droves; they are profiting off human suffering.
We also saw the border area in Del Rio and heard from officers there who said they are being told to release migrants into the U.S. This is known as “catch and release” – a policy the Trump Administration stopped but the Biden Administration reinstated.
This specific policy is particularly harmful because it signals to people that even if they are caught illegally crossing the border, they will simply be released into our country without consequence.
The officers on the ground said that President Biden’s announced return of catch and release and end of border wall construction was music to the ears of cartels and drug smugglers whose businesses suffered under President Trump. They continue to take full advantage of the lax policies and weak enforcement under the current Administration.
With lethal narcotics and dangerous criminals coming into our country unchecked, every state is a border state. This is a threat to the safety and security of every Iowan and must be controlled.
President Biden can put an end to this crisis today by returning to the Trump-era policies that secured our border and made our entire country safer, and he should do so immediately.