COLUMN: The Humanitarian Crisis at the Border

June 17, 2019
Weekly Column and Op-Ed

People from all over the world come to the United States for a chance to live a better life. Some are coming here to work, some are coming to reunite with their families, and some are escaping corrupt governments. We should welcome them with a strong legal immigration system.

What we should not allow are the criminals that take advantage of the loopholes in our immigration laws. Drug dealers and sex traffickers exploit our lack of border enforcement and outdated technologies, and children are “rented” and bought as “free entrance” cards. As Americans, and as humans, we should not tolerate these crimes.

I have long advocated for the immediate need to strengthen our border security, and I believe our country’s lax immigration policies have amounted to a crisis. However, in addition to the physical security conditions along our border, we are now experiencing a humanitarian crisis. 

Last month, there were more than 144,000 apprehensions at our southwest border. To put that into perspective, there were 400,000 apprehensions during the entirety of 2018. Half of the apprehensions made last month were children. Two-thirds of them were family units. We are well on our way to the largest number of apprehensions in our nation’s history, and it is not just because our immigration system is broken.

Officials at the border do not have the tools or the resources they need to process the increasing number of migrants crossing – or attempting to cross – into the United States. This results in individuals, children, and families waiting in long lines, in small cramped spaces, and in the hot sun. Without funds to increase shelter capacity, enhance operations at the border, and improve the processing of migrants, it is children and families who suffer.

On May 1st, President Trump requested emergency supplemental funding to give the Border Patrol and other agencies the resources they need. As a Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have the unique opportunity to make sure Central Washington’s priorities are included in our government’s funding bills. One thing I’ve heard loud and clear: the brave men and women who work at our border to keep Americans safe deserve the resources they need to properly, efficiently, and humanely address the influx of border crossings, both illegal and legal.

Last week, I offered an amendment to the FY20 Homeland Security Appropriations bill that would have fulfilled the President’s supplemental request, giving the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services resources they need to keep our border secure and safe. Unfortunately, Democrats rejected the amendment, stating that it was unnecessary because they would bring the funding to the floor of the full House of Representatives for a vote “soon.”

The fact of the matter is that our Border Patrol agents and officials at the Office of Refugee Resettlement will run out of resources by the end of June. Congress does not have time to waste, and the children and families at the border should not have to wait for Democrats to realize what President Trump and Republicans in Congress have been telling them. There is a crisis at our southern border, and “soon” is not soon enough.