My Weekend at the Border

July 30, 2021
Weekly Columns

Last weekend I had the opportunity to lead a trip to McCallen, Texas, with several other Congress members to see for ourselves the results of the immigration crisis at our southern border. What we witnessed was shocking. In my position as Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Committee, in which we oversee nearly all federal lands, I initially went to see the environmental impact of the thousands of people flooding the area. While we did see significant environmental degradation and pollution, the human cost of the emergency was much worse.

The make-shift facility we visited encounters roughly 4,000 migrants per day, and has seen migrants from 151 countries. Border Patrol agents were completely overwhelmed, spending every second of their time processing those who surrender themselves to the agents. Completely outnumbered, the agents do not have the capacity to stop the cartels that have created a multibillion-dollar human trafficking operation.

Border Patrol told me stories of 12 and 13-year-old girls who arrived crying inconsolably because they had just been raped. They told me stories of a 7-year-old child who reported that while traveling by train, he witnessed smugglers become irritated with some of the children and simply throw them off the moving train. When traveling by boat, smugglers avoid arrest by throwing children, infants, or the elderly into the water so that agents are launched into a rescue mission and the smugglers can escape. These cartels are evil, and they must be stopped.

Customs and Border Patrol desperately need support. They are understaffed and drastically outnumbered. Texas is creating a barrier to help direct the migrants through a limited number of access points so they can more easily control the stream of migrants and catch human and drug traffickers. I believe such a measure should be implemented across our entire border. We also need a more effective legal immigration system based on merit and the needs of the American economy so that we can stop the flow of illegal migrants.  

So many of these immigrants are looking for a better life away from the violence of the cartels and the abject poverty of their homelands, and I am grateful that we have a nation that is so attractive to others, but we cannot allow lawlessness to overwhelm our borders where drug smuggling and human trafficking go unchecked.