Adrian Smith Commentary
Bringing the Border Crisis Under Control
By Rep. Adrian Smith
The crisis at our Southern Border is enormous, unprecedented, and is putting Americans at risk. According to United States Customs and Border Protection, more than 1 million migrant encounters have been recorded at the border since October 1, 2024—a mark reached faster than any previous fiscal year on record. To this point in Fiscal Year 2024, 50 individuals whose names appear in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Terrorist Screening Database have been stopped trying to enter the United States illegally. This is greater than the number of terrorist watchlist encounters at the border in FY17-FY22 combined.
The policies of the Biden administration have not lessened this crisis; they have worsened it. For the American public, for law enforcement agents putting their lives on the line daily, and for victims of human trafficking and unaccompanied children, this is unacceptable.
On his first day in office, President Biden ordered an end to the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy, which required asylum claimants to remain on the Mexico side of the border while their case was adjudicated and successfully reduced the incentive to attempt illegal crossings.
Rather than “Remain in Mexico,” Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has implemented a catch-and-release parole policy. This policy fails to enforce existing immigration law and has utterly failed to get the border under control. In July 2023, The Washington Times reported Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials can’t account for 40 percent of the individuals in the DHS parole program, and ICE has failed to deliver court summonses to 80 percent of parolees.
The Secretary of Homeland Security has a responsibility to the American people to address national security risks at the border and keep our country safe. Despite the ongoing crisis of unchecked fentanyl, human trafficking, and vulnerability to terror threats, Secretary Mayorkas has failed to cooperate with congressional investigations and repeatedly claimed the border is secure. Because of his unwillingness to fulfill his constitutional duties to enforce U.S. law and protect Americans, I voted in favor of a resolution to impeach the secretary when it came to the House floor this week. This measure was opposed by every Democrat member of the House and failed by one vote. However the impeachment resolution will likely be reconsidered soon, and I intend to support it again.
Since President Biden took office and appointed Secretary Mayorkas, illegal border crossings have exceeded 7 million, and 1.7 million “gotaways” are known to have evaded U.S. Border Patrol. While the House has passed H.R. 2 last year, which would boost enforcement resources at the border and address disfunction in our immigration system by limiting false asylum claims, with Secretary Mayorkas at the helm of DHS, there’s no reason to believe legislation Congress passes will improve border security.
When I joined a congressional delegation to visit the border at Eagle Pass, TX in early January of this year, I observed for myself just how bad the situation is. Alarmingly, we were told the overwhelming number of crossings at Eagle Pass decreased markedly during our visit because word had circulated about improved security in the sector. The fact the number of illegal crossings went down during our visit shows something significant about the administration’s ability to confront this issue. We need to restore successful methods and policies such as Remain in Mexico and get serious about keeping Americans safe through the rule of law.