We have a cri­sis at our bor­der

Belleville News-Democrat (Sunday) - - Opinion - BY REP. MIKE BOST

We have a cri­sis at our south­ern bor­der, a cri­sis made worse by dys­func­tion in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and il­licit ma­te­ri­als – es­pe­cially il­le­gal drugs – com­ing across our bor­ders have strained gov­ern­ment re­sources and over­whelmed agen­cies charged with bor­der se­cu­rity and im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to an anal­y­sis by the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, over 60,000 mi­grants have ar­rived at our bor­der over the last three months. Of those 60,000 mi­grants, 85 per­cent il­le­gally crossed our bor­der. Last year, fam­i­lies and un­ac­com­pa­nied alien mi­nors made up 40 per­cent of all cross­ings. The pre­vi­ous record was 28 per­cent.

For decades, un­der both Repub­li­can and Demo­crat ad­min­is­tra­tions, il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion went unchecked and bor­der se­cu­rity fal­tered. The re­sult is a bro­ken im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem that makes our com­mu­ni­ties less safe and ped­dles per­verse in­cen­tives that put vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple, es­pe­cially chil­dren, at risk. Of­ten forced to make this dan­ger­ous jour­ney alone, they face sex­ual abuse, vi­o­lent crime, and other risks to their safety.

The good news was that both par­ties ap­peared to fi­nally rec­og­nize the prob­lem. In fact, just a few years ago, Se­na­tor Chuck Schumer said, “If you’re go­ing to get bi­par­ti­san sup­port and get (an im­mi­gra­tion) bill done, you’re go­ing to have to do some­thing on the bor­der.” In 2010, for­mer Demo­crat pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hillary Clin­ton said, “I voted nu­mer­ous times when I was a se­na­tor to spend money to build a bar­rier to try to pre­vent il­le­gal im­mi­grants from com­ing in.”

In the years since, the only thing that has changed is the oc­cu­pant in the White House. It’s time for Democrats in Con­gress to work se­ri­ously with Pres­i­dent Trump and Repub­li­cans to keep our com­mu­ni­ties safe and up­hold the rule of law. After all, that’s what they used to want.

Per­haps the most frus­trat­ing part of the cri­sis at our south­ern bor­der is that this sit­u­a­tion was en­tirely preventable. Last year, I joined with other mem­bers in the House in vot­ing for two bills that se­cured the bor­der once and for all; re­formed the bro­ken asy­lum process; re­solved the prob­lem of fam­ily sepa­ra­tion; and pro­vided long-term cer­tainty to those who were brought here as chil­dren. Un­for­tu­nately, that leg­is­la­tion was bogged down by par­ti­san pol­i­tics from ex­treme ends on both sides of the aisle.

Turn the cal­en­dar to one year later, and the cri­sis has only got­ten worse. The Wash­ing­ton politi­cians who once claimed sup­port for a bar­rier along our south­ern bor­der are now call­ing it im­moral. And with each pass­ing day, the gov­ern­ment shut­down adds a day to its al­ready record length.

The Amer­i­can peo­ple de­serve to feel safe. They de­serve know­ing that their gov­ern­ment is do­ing all it can to make our coun­try more se­cure, and that ev­ery­one cross­ing our bor­der is ac­counted for. They also de­serve cer­tainty – the cer­tainty of know­ing that their gov­ern­ment won’t be shut down be­cause Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Leader Schumer refuse to strengthen our bor­ders.

As I’ve long said, I’m will­ing to find com­mon ground with any­one, but I will not com­pro­mise my val­ues. We need to find a so­lu­tion out of this mess. It’s vi­tally im­por­tant that we se­cure our bor­ders to keep our com­mu­ni­ties safe. We must also ad­dress our bro­ken im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem or this cri­sis is only go­ing to get big­ger.

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