WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) traveled to the El Paso Sector migrant processing center in West Texas to meet with Customs and Border Patrol officials about the ongoing crisis at the border.
Senator Blackburn wrote the following about her trip:
MY VISIT TO THE BORDER
On Friday, I visited the El Paso Sector Customs and Border Patrol/Department of Homeland Security migrant processing center in West Texas, where overcrowded facilities can barely contain the illegal immigrants apprehended each day. My visit came just one week after 1,036 people – the largest group ever to cross the border from Mexico – arrived there on May 29th.
Within thirty minutes, I watched twelve people in three groups try to enter our country illegally. One man who was trying to enter illegally told me he had been following media reports and believed that he could stay once he had crossed. Based on media reports, migrants are aware that pregnant women and families are able to enter the United States more easily and they are using these loopholes to their advantage.
On Friday alone, five kilograms of fentanyl was seized – that is enough to kill nearly 2 million Americans. Opioid addiction is ravaging the United States. We cannot address this public health crisis if we do not cut off the major influx of these deadly drugs at the southern border.
The border patrol agents are crystal clear about the need for more resources, including and especially additional agents. While technology is helpful, it cannot replace the physical human ability to monitor, respond, and catch immigrants. Drug cartels use Facebook ads to solicit drivers to smuggle migrants and bring drugs across ports of entry. CBP does not currently have enough agents to staff the various checkpoints and catch the criminal activity.
CBP also needs more equipment and transportation capabilities, as well as additional space to house illegal immigrants once they are in custody. This time last year, the El Paso Sector had 4,733 family units in custody. Now, they have a shocking 104,131 – up 2,100% in just one year. On top of that growth, the facility is only capable of housing 125 people but is forced to hold nearly 1,000 migrants in detention facilities.
The system has cracked. We have a full-blown humanitarian crisis on our hands. Congress has to act, and we need to address all aspects of the crisis.
In the past couple months, I have sponsored two pieces legislation that I hope will target important aspects of the border problem. The Ending the Fentanyl Crisis Act will ensure that sentencing penalties for trafficking fentanyl reflect the deadliness of the drug. It’s time the punishment fit the crime for drug traffickers. The Accountability for Care of Unaccompanied Alien Children Act will protect children from trafficking and further exploitation of the horrific situation at the southern border.
Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Senator Lindsey Graham’s legislation to close loopholes in current immigration law and help fix the crisis at the southern border. I look forward to communicating the additional information I learned last week and to having a productive conversation on this topic that leads to real results.
I will continue supporting legislation that addresses all aspects of this complex immigration crisis. We cannot have national security without border security. Until our border is secure, every state is a border state and every town is a border town.