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Guest Op-Ed by Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12)

Randy Mancini 38 November 18, 2021

1.4 Million Illegal Border Crossings

Since President Biden took office, there have been over 1.4 million illegal border crossings. Just this week, officials reported that 164,303 illegal immigrants were apprehended during the month of October. This is the highest number of apprehensions for October in recorded history.  The problem is actually much worse than these already staggering numbers suggest.  When I spoke with Border Patrol Agents during my recent visit to the southern border, they confirmed that they are only able to apprehend a fraction of the people, drugs, and weapons illegally entering the country.  They are simply overwhelmed by the dramatic increases they are facing.  These brave public servants noted the extreme difficulties associated with trying to keep our country secure without a physical barrier along portions of the border.  During my visit, I was taken to areas in which anyone and anything could enter the country at-will.  The security implications of such a revelation are startling.

These record-high apprehensions keep increasing, with no end in sight.  In fact, there is a new caravan of migrants currently traveling through Mexico to the U.S. southern border.   A group of colleagues and I wrote to Department of Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asking for detailed information about how the agency plans to stop this newest surge of illegal immigrants from entering.  He has not yet responded.  However, if the past ten months offer any indication of how it will respond, I would anticipate that the agency will be extremely lax and woefully unprepared.

Focusing solely on the people who are apprehended, the current processing system is also wrought with concerns.  Out of the 1.4 million people who have been apprehended while trying to illegally gain access to the country, more than 283,000 have been released into the United States.  There is inadequate tracking of these individuals once they are released.  Approximately 95,000 were simply released into the country with a “Notice to Report” once their case is ready to be reviewed by a judge.  Due to the backlog of cases, the waiting period can extend several months or even years. Based upon previous patterns of behavior, it is reasonable to assume that many of these individuals will fail to comply with their order to report back later and will simply disappear within the country.  This represents another significant security risk.

Even Administration officials admit that the situation at the border has grown dire due to increases in drug, human and weapon trafficking.  I am especially concerned for the children who are being smuggled into the country, as many of the individuals involved in these underground operations are dangerous criminals.

This crisis didn’t happen by accident but rather is the consequence of deliberate open border policies of the Biden Administration.  The root causes of this crisis are clear:  President Biden’s disastrous immigration policies are to blame.  His Administration stopped building the wall, brought back catch and release, and tried to get rid of the Remain in Mexico policy-which required that asylum seekers wait outside the U.S. while their cases are decided.

Instead of addressing what has become a humanitarian, health and national security problem, the Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats keep announcing plans that will only exacerbate the problem. For example, the Administration has discussed paying illegal immigrants settlement payments of up to $450,000.   These individuals broke the law by entering the country.  If they are compensated for doing so, it will encourage even more people to break the law.

I am also extremely concerned that while it does not contain one dollar to add additional Border Security Agents, the proposed tax and spending bill currently being pushed through the House includes amnesty for up to 10 million illegal immigrants and $100 billion in taxpayer-funded benefits for them.  These irresponsible proposals and dangerous open border policies will continue to fuel the crisis and encourage more illegal activity at the border.

As the grandchild of Greek immigrants, I understand the power of the American dream and the unique cultural, intellectual, and economic contributions that have been made to our nation by people of all backgrounds who have immigrated to the United States legally.  However, I also believe in the rule of law and its equal application.  We must not reward those who have flagrantly disregarded our laws to come here illegally. We must abandon the policies that have created this crisis, and we must immediately secure our borders.