As news of the government shutdown emanates from TV news channels, vastly different perspectives are communicated. The truth is uglier than any of them.
A majority of members of Congress understand the facts about our southern border:
60,000 people per month are showing up trying to get into the country. Of that number, approximately 5,000 are unaccompanied children, 25,000 are single individuals, and 30,000 are members of family units. An estimated 31% of women and 17% of men are sexually assaulted or abused on their journey, and an average of 3 girls per day are kidnapped for sale into the sex trade.
From 2017 to 2018, we saw a 38% increase in Methamphetamine, 22% increase in Heroin, and 73% increase in Fentanyl crossing the border. In 2003, only 10% of the heroin seized by law enforcement in the US was sourced from Mexico; now that number is 90%.
Dialogue between members of Congress is reasonably good – at least it’s happening. The problem lies at the top. The Speaker of the House and the President have such an adversarial relationship that Speaker Pelosi will not even meet to negotiate. I believe that if the Speaker would negotiate in good faith, resolution could be reached in short order. Consider some of the history leading up to this situation:
In 2006, bi-partisan members of Congress including then-Senators Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Dianne Feinstein, and Chuck Schumer voted for the Secure Fence Act to build a barrier along 700 miles of the southern border. In 2013, all Senate members voted to pass the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act to add 700 miles of border fencing. In 2014, President Obama said: “We now have an actual humanitarian crisis on the border that only underscores the need to drop the politics and fix our immigration system once and for all.”
That was true then and it is true today…only the situation has gotten worse.
While the President has put several reasonable solutions on the table, my colleagues and I in the Republican minority have proposed paying federal employees twice in the last week. The first time, 6 members of the majority party joined us. The second time, 13 joined us. If we get 6 more members of the Democrat majority to join us, federal employees will get paid.
But that still won’t add the needed security or humanitarian resources. The longer our borders are unsecured, the more expensive it becomes and the longer we incentivize bad behavior. A physical barrier is necessary to provide a hindrance to illegal activity.
America can continue to be the world’s largest immigrant destination (at more than 1,000,000 people per year), but it must be done legally. Speaker Pelosi must either engage or get out of the way. I believe that will eventually happen due to pressure from her colleagues, and I am working extensively to make sure that pressure is accelerated as rapidly as possible.