What I Saw at the Border
This past week I visited the Texas-Mexico border for an updated look at the situation and can confirm that this is certainly not a “manufactured crisis” - our border agencies are overwhelmed.

Here in Texas, most of us have understood the situation for a long time. But talking to representatives from other states, I realized that many of them did not have that same firsthand understanding of the depth of the crisis. So I was able to take two other representatives on this trip: Jody Hice (R-GA) and Glenn Grothman (R-WI). Both have been strong supporters of border security and made this trip a priority.

What we saw was an overworked and vastly underfunded Border Patrol trying to deal with an overwhelming flood of migrants and dangerous criminal cartels.

Check out this discussion with Hector Garza of the National Border Patrol Council during a night visit to a hot spot on the Rio Grande:

On my last visit to the border, Border Patrol leadership expressed that the next step in combating the cartels would not be stemming the tide of drugs and human trafficking - it would simply be situational awareness. They did not even have the technology or manpower to see most of what the cartels were doing, much less to stop it. 

Since then, the situation has gotten worse. 

News report covering our visit with agents at the Falfurrias Checkpoint about the challenges they face:

40-50 percent of Border Patrol agents in the sectors we visited have been reassigned to process asylum seekers - essentially to do paperwork. Cameras in the Laredo sector cover only a small fraction of their assigned territory. On a night tour of hot spots along the river, we found constant cartel traffic that overwhelmed the undermanned Border Patrol. 

Cartel/smuggler fees just for migrants crossing in the Rio Grande Valley Sector are estimated at about $80 million each week. The Border Patrol’s budget in that sector is around $13 million per year. There is no way to compete with that kind of funding mismatch.

What we found in talking with Border Patrol agents was a group of good-hearted, dedicated individuals working very hard to protect people, despite being vastly outmanned and underfunded compared to the cartels. 

Coverage of our late-night visit to the Rio Grande to get a firsthand look at what Border Patrol agents experience:

This situation is unsustainable. A phrase we heard repeatedly from Border Patrol agents was “no end in sight.” What is already a crisis will only get worse unless Congress acts.

I recently signed a letter to the White House highlighting seven actions the President’s administration could take right now to ease the immediate crisis. This letter was the product of weeks of research by my office and others to determine what the President would be able to do within the confines of current law.

But ultimately, Congress will have to act in at least two key areas: reforming our broken asylum system and providing Border Patrol with the infrastructure, technology, and manpower that they need to combat the cartels.

I will continue to work in Congress to build a consensus in these areas. Unfortunately, many members are entrenched in anti-border security positions for political reasons, but I will work to find common ground to move this issue forward. Meanwhile, I will continue to press the administration for further action on this national emergency at our border.

The trip concluded with a look at a facility for housing unaccompanied minors, one of the heartbreaking consequences of the situation our government has allowed to develop:

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