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OP-ED: President Biden is responsible for this border crisis

Ted Cruz

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) penned an op-ed for Newsweek detailing the worsening border crisis created by President Biden’s dangerous immigration policies and his Congressional Delegation (CODEL) trip to the Rio Grande Valley, where Sen. Cruz witnessed firsthand the humanitarian, national security, and public health crises at the border.

Last month, I took 18 U.S. senators down to the Rio Grande Valley so we could see for ourselves what is happening on the southern border.

I’ve been to the border many, many times, but when I went last month it was the worst I’ve ever seen it.

The first night we were there we went on midnight patrol with the National Border Patrol Council. On the banks of the Rio Grande, we saw migrant after migrant after migrant crossing the river in a nearly endless stream of illegal border crossings. We saw the bright lights of coyotes who were illegally bringing people across the river in rickety and dangerous rafts to the spot where we stood. The coyotes heckled and taunted the agents who were with us, laughing and yelling that there was nothing the agents could do to stop the human smuggling. And they were right—as we learned the next morning, there had been 2,900 apprehensions in that sector over the previous 24 hours, quadruple the per-day numbers of only a few weeks prior.

After crossing into the United States, these illegal immigrants were housed in pens underneath the Anzalduas International Bridge so they could be “processed.” This makeshift processing center underneath a bridge is basically an expedited catch-and-release center. Because of the overwhelming stream of illegal immigrants crossing the Rio Grande, people are kept under the bridge for about eight hours so that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can make room for more illegal immigrants.

Once the initial processing under the Anzalduas bridge takes place, illegal immigrants are taken for further processing at the McAllen or Donna Processing facility, the latter of which is a gigantic tent city. After being fully processed, illegal immigrants are released into the United States—sometimes without even a notice to appear in immigration court, something the CBP sector chief told us he’s never seen in over two decades of service.

The conditions are simply appalling in these migrant processing centers. We toured the Donna Processing facility—a tent city designed to hold no more than 250 children under COVID-19 restrictions, and no more than 1,000 under normal conditions. Yet at the time of our visit, it was overflowing with approximately 4,200 people. There were cages after cages of little boys and little girls lying side-by-side, covered with reflective blankets, and with virtually no space between them. There was a playpen of infants and toddlers brought here by human traffickers and then left alone, stranded at the border. Outside, we saw a line of children who, having just been crammed into the crowded cages, were now testing positive for COVID-19. Border Patrol agents were doing their absolute best to care for these children, but these officials are not trained as social workers—they are trained to protect our border. The conditions were, simply put and without exaggeration, inhumane.

Many of these children have been physically and sexually abused by traffickers and coyotes. An agent at the Donna Processing facility told us of a girl who could not speak, having lost her voice after screaming so loudly while being raped by the coyotes who were taking her to the border. The cartels care nothing for these people—they care about the money they make from shepherding people across the border and from a drug trade that has become extremely lucrative in the past couple of months. CBP is left to deal with the huge increase in illegal immigrants crossing the border.

This crisis exists because of President Biden’s policies. The first week Joe Biden was president, he did three things. Number one, he immediately halted construction of the border wall. Number two, he reinstated the failed Obama-era catch-and-release policy. Number three—and this was the most indefensible decision—he unlawfully ended the “Remain in Mexico” policy, an international agreement President Trump negotiated with the government of Mexico whereby Mexico agreed that Central American immigrants who had crossed illegally through Mexico would stay in Mexico while their asylum cases were adjudicated in the United States. That agreement was a great victory, and it resulted in a massive drop in illegal immigration—so much so that in 2020, the United States experienced the lowest level of illegal immigration in 45 years. Now, because of Joe Biden’s policies, we have the highest rate of illegal immigration in 20 years.

To make matters worse, I requested that the media be allowed to join us on the tour so that the American people could see for themselves what is happening at the border. The Biden administration emphatically refused to offer press access, which was outrageous and hypocritical for an administration that has pledged transparency.

All of the senators who joined me in the Rio Grande Valley are telling President Biden what we saw at the border, how his policies are creating this crisis and imploring him to do something about it. We have a humanitarian, public health and security emergency at the border. President Biden needs to reverse his policies and put a stop to it.

Ted Cruz, Republican, is a U.S. senator for Texas.