Sen. Ron Johnson: Biden's border crisis – here are tragedies I saw during tour of Texas migrant facilities

Biden admin seems ‘deaf, dumb and blind’ to border crisis, dangers to migrants: Sen. Ron Johnson

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., on joining the GOP delegation to head to the southern border and Vice President Kamala Harris leading the response to the border crisis.

During Friday’s tour of the Rio Grande with 18 of my Republican Senate colleagues, our boat slowed down to prevent its wake from disturbing a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol craft stationed near the shoreline. 

The Texas Department of Public Safety officer commanding our boat pointed out a dead body floating in the water that the CBP boat was responding to. 

That corpse was just one of many tragic things we witnessed during our two-day trip to the border near McAllen, Texas.

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After leaving Washington Thursday afternoon, we joined CBP union representatives for a nighttime tour of the border. We were taken to the Anzalduas International Bridge. The bridge is an important link connecting the U.S. and Mexico for commerce and travel, but now the area underneath is a makeshift processing center handling the latest surge of migrant families and unaccompanied children.

The Biden administration is not allowing journalists to see or photograph the reality of what is happening as this third wave of unaccompanied children and families exploit our broken asylum system. So my colleagues and I took pictures, and contrary to the Biden administration minder’s demand that we delete them, we posted them for the public to view.

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The Biden administration may not like it, but Americans have the right to know what is happening.

The peak of the first wave occurred in 2014. President Obama correctly called it a humanitarian crisis and his Homeland Security secretary said it was a “bad day” when apprehensions exceeded 1,000. This third wave is routinely experiencing daily apprehensions over 4,000, with one day already exceeding 6,000. 

That’s a caravan of migrants crossing each and every day – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The system is already completely overwhelmed, and the current crisis has only just begun. 

As the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, I have been involved with the problem of illegal immigration and border security since 2015. I have been charting the numbers and showing the effects of policy changes and court decisions. 

What is so sad is that this third wave didn’t have to happen. 

Responding to the second wave in 2018 and 2019, President Trump enacted polices and entered into agreements with Mexico and Guatemala that greatly reduced the migration of children and families. 

We were told that when Biden transition officials asked Trump Homeland Security officials how to prevent a border crisis, they were explicitly told to keep the Migrant Protection Protocols (a.k.a. Remain in Mexico) and other agreements with Mexico and Central American countries in place.  

This is as close to a completely open border as anyone could possibly imagine.

But upon assuming office, instead of heeding that advice, President Biden completely dismantled the very policies that had ended the surge and that his administration had been urged to retain. We are now experiencing the predictable results.  

On Friday, 2,900 migrants were apprehended along the 56-mile McAllen border sector. An additional 300 migrants were known “got aways.” We have no idea how many other human- and drug-traffickers took advantage of the situation and illegally entered undetected.

The Senate delegation also visited the Donna, Texas, detention facility now being used to house unaccompanied children and families with at least one child younger than 7. The facility was designed to hold 1,000 migrants under normal conditions, or 250 with COVID protocols in place. Last week there were approximately 4,000 migrants being held, packed like sardines in cells separated by plastic sheeting.  

CBP does test for COVID at the Donna facility but not under the Anzalduas Bridge. At Donna, a group of older children waiting in an outdoor area were divided into three groups. One group of approximately 15 had tested positive for COVID. Imagine the potential for spreading in such an overcrowded facility.

Most migrants in the McAllen sector are processed under the Anzalduas Bridge. During the 2018-19 surge that overwhelmed CBP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Health and Human Services, the Trump administration was criticized for not being able to comply with the law requiring children to be turned over to the HHS within 72 hours. It was taking as long as seven to 10 days to determine a migrant’s identity and reduce the incidence of trafficking abuse.

The Biden administration is ignoring the human trafficking problem by setting a goal of processing and releasing migrants within eight hours with no COVID test or identity check. As of March 20, CBP was also ordered to stop issuing notices to appear at an immigration hearing. 

The policy now is actually worse than “catch and release.” This is as close to a completely open border as anyone could possibly imagine.

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The Biden administration justifies its new policies as being humane. But let’s be clear:

No matter what President Biden and Vice President Harris say or what their friends in the media write, there is nothing humane about enacting policies that entice migrants to make a perilous journey, subjecting themselves to the depredations of human traffickers, sexual abuse, involuntary servitude and even death. 

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