Byrne: Through media attacks, border agents continue fight
The border agents, military and law enforcement personnel at our southern border are doing their best in difficult circumstances to combat both illegal immigration and attacks from Democrats and the national media. Today, I’ll discuss the second half of my recent border visit.
After inspecting several points of entry and other spots along the border, our delegation traveled to Fort Bliss outside of El Paso to the Joint Task Force Crisis Response. Many of the active-duty soldiers here are working to free up border patrol agents to patrol the border.
The Crisis Response Force has provided security and engineering support supporting over 17,000 apprehensions. We have 1,300 marines operating Mobile Surveillance Cameras (MSC) across all Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sectors. Many sites would not be manned if not for this support.
Operation Guardian Support uses 1,100 10th Mountain Division personnel to fly helicopter surveillance missions. An additional 360 active duty personnel provide driver and other operational support.
The Texas Military Department headquartered here oversees most of the National Guard support units patrolling the border. They have nine Lakota helicopters from eight states, including one loaned from Alabama.
Alabama has 68 Guardsmen volunteering in Texas, the most out of the 13 states. They fly more hours here in one month than they would have in one year.
My final stop was an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention Center. Perhaps no one has been under more constant attack than ICE. Many Democrats have called to abolish this agency completely because of falsified stories and a desire for open borders.
As I saw firsthand, many of the unbelievable stories we’ve heard are total fabrications.
About 850 people who had illegally crossed our border were detained here. They were issued different colored outfits based on their criminal record. Most awaited an asylum decision or repatriation. Pro bono legal representation was provided, but more ICE trial attorneys and judges are needed. We’ve also seen more cases of mental issues that must be treated. Despite these challenges, all detainees were treated with humane respect and care.
The asylum process is a catastrophe that does not function as intended. The low bar for the “credible/reasonable fear review” means 90 percent who begin the process receive an eventual asylum hearing. In El Paso, after an often long, expensive legal process, 90% of these asylum cases are denied.
It falls on ICE to find individuals in the United States when they are denied. As you can imagine, many are never found.
Under President Trump’s “return to Mexico” policy, many migrants are now returned to Mexico to await their immigration case. In El Paso, there have been 9,000 waiting in Mexico for a hearing since March 28th.
When asylum is denied, migrants can stay in the country pending their appeal. Many appeal their decision until they can qualify for some other type of relief.
Through my firsthand experience and direct conversations with agents at the border, several things were made clear.
The accusations against the men and women doing everything in their power to care for these detainees are completely unfounded. This is an attempt to discredit President Trump and open our borders.
Military personnel and the supplemental border funding package have improved the situation, but they are insufficient. We need to reform our asylum laws and end other immigration loopholes that have led to this crisis.
Finally, walls work. The evidence is clear that walls, used in the right places, make border protection easier.
Our agents at the border have a difficult job, but Democrats’ refusal to take action has made our border crisis worse. I pledge to continue working with President Trump to solve this humanitarian, legal and national security crisis so the American people can be protected.
U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.