Four million illegal immigrants have crossed our southern border since President Biden took office in January 2021 — which is almost 80% of Alabama’s total population.
The Biden administration publicly touts that the border crisis is under control, while privately demanding that the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) resign. But the numbers don’t lie — the border crisis is worse than ever.
Last month, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported 230,678 illegal immigrant apprehensions — the highest monthly total in recorded history. Suspected terrorists are taking advantage of our open borders. CBP officials caught 98 criminals illegally entering our country through the southern border who are also on the FBI’s terrorist watchlist during fiscal year 2022 alone.
Clearly, the administration doesn’t have a plan to secure our border, given its recent legal plea to continue use of Title 42 authorities. These authorities, intended as temporary measure under a COVID-era public health order, allow for the immediate expulsion of illegal immigrants in most cases due to the pandemic emergency.
The Biden administration’s request to delay what was intended to be a temporary exception to the norm signals a lack of preparation ahead of the anticipated increase in illegal crossings that is expected once Title 42 is lifted.
But this isn’t just a “border” problem. If you think this isn’t impacting Americans across the country, think again.
President Biden’s failure to secure the southern border has resulted in a massive influx of deadly fentanyl that is ravaging communities in every state. More than 71,000 Americans died due to fentanyl overdose last year — nearly 195 people per day.
The fentanyl epidemic is hitting close to home too — recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that drug overdose deaths increased by 20% in Alabama last year.
The Biden administration’s dereliction of duty has emboldened drug cartels to evade law enforcement and target America’s youth by disguising fentanyl as rainbow candy to make it more appealing. Teachers and state education leaders are sounding the alarm as more Alabama students are falling prey to this deadly drug. Just two milligrams of fentanyl — the size of 10-15 grains of salt — is considered a lethal dose.
Law enforcement officials across the state are echoing warnings about the surge of fentanyl in their communities, including Jefferson County, where fentanyl overdose deaths jumped 66% in the last year.
The Mobile County Sherriff’s Office recently seized enough fentanyl to kill 1.5 million people during a bust on I-10 last month. Sadly, rural areas in Alabama aren’t immune to the fentanyl surge either. Law enforcement officials in Morgan County are among those with reported increases in fentanyl seizures.
I appreciate the efforts of our men and women in blue to crack down on drug trafficking, but they need support to get these deadly substances off our streets. That starts with leaders at the top taking an interest in solving the problem. And to solve the problem, you first need to understand it.
I recently visited the Del Rio sector of our southern border in Eagle Pass, Texas, to see the border crisis firsthand. Hundreds of people, including vulnerable women and children, cross the Rio Grande River at this point to enter our country on a daily basis.
During my visit, I met with CBP officials, including National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd and Del Rio Sector Chief Jason Owens — both of whom are doing the best job they can with few resources or support from DHS. During my visit, they relayed the hefty price tag of President Biden’s open border — just one new temporary processing facility for illegal immigrants in Eagle Pass is costing American taxpayers $14 million per month.
When experiencing a series of losses, it’s time for a new game plan. Lives are at stake, and it is past time to take action to secure our southern border. That is the only way to stop bad actors and deadly narcotics from coming into our country and putting American lives at risk.
It’s time to secure our southern border and enforce the immigration laws already in place. We can do this by giving our border agents the support and tools they need to address drug smuggling, human trafficking and illegal immigration. But we also must have every level of government – federal, state and local – working together to address this issue.
I call on President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Secretary Mayorkas to do the job they signed up to do — or find someone else who can.
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.