As recent trends demonstrate, we must take border security seriously. In May, U.S. Customs and Border Protection stopped 144,000 people from illegally entering the U.S. – the most in one month since 2006. This incredible number of people is almost three times the population of Grand Island.
The number of unaccompanied children attempting to cross the border outside of the 328 legal ports of entry has increased by 60 percent over the last year. Last month, the U.S. apprehended 5,800 people in a single day, including one group of people numbering more than 1,000. Those guarding the border are unable to deal with the massive increase of people, while also continuing to fight drug and human trafficking. As this crisis worsens, it further undermines the legal process for immigrating or seeking asylum.
In June, the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security wrote a letter urging Congress to heed warnings and provide sufficient resources and funding to combat this crisis. Congress should have immediately put politics aside to give our men and women at the border the support they need. Instead, it took weeks of watching the situation escalate before House Democrats decided to allow a vote on a bipartisan bill to provide $4.6 billion in emergency funding for border security.
The bipartisan bill contains provisions which will improve the situation at the border including safe shelter for unaccompanied children, increased funding to fight human trafficking and well-deserved pay increases to law enforcement. It overwhelmingly passed in the Senate with a vote of 84-8 and in the House with a vote of 305-102.
President Donald Trump has made the border a priority. He reached an agreement with Mexico to do their part and on June 24 Mexico deployed almost 15,000 troops to the U.S. border. This comes on the heels of a previous agreement where Mexico deployed 6,000 troops to their southern border for security. Cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico is essential, and I thank the President for his leadership.
We still have much work to do. There is a humanitarian crisis happening right here on our own borders. It will not go away by pretending it isn’t there. We must acknowledge the problem, put politics aside, and fix it – it is well past time.