WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke on the Senate floor today about the national security and humanitarian crisis she observed at the southern border during her recent Congressional delegation trip to southern Texas.
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Following are Senator Fischer’s remarks as delivered:
Thank you, Mr. President.
I'm sure that you've seen news reports about a group of four Americans who were recently kidnapped after driving across the U.S.-Mexico border.
This week, two of them were tragically found dead. My heart goes out to the families affected by this devastating development.
This is the latest in a string of incidents that underscore just how chaotic the situation is at our southern border.
I know firsthand because I visited the border last week, along with a delegation of Republicans led by my colleague, Senator Cornyn.
You know, we can read about what's going on down at the border. We can watch the news. But until you travel south and see the chaos there with your own eyes, you really can't fully understand the gravity of the situation.
The numbers we hear reported are overwhelming.
Migrant encounters this fiscal year have already stretched past 770,000. December hit a record for monthly encounters, at over 251,000.
We talk about these numbers. But what really brings home what a crisis this is, is walking past an unfinished border wall, boating up and down the Rio Grande River, riding through the brush and seeing the paths migrants use to sneak into our country.
It's touring a raided stash house where a weapon was found, an illegal immigrant was detained, and a human smuggler was arrested.
The faces and the voices of people on the ground in Texas who are directly hurt by border insecurity. That's what really brings home what a crisis this is.
My colleagues and I talked to Border Patrol officers, illegal immigrants, South Texas landowners. Each of these conversations unveiled a new side of the tragic situation at the border.
Our agents are doing good and honorable work to protect migrants, to defend our national security, and to stop criminals in their tracks.
But it is all with little support from this administration.
Along the border wall, we spoke with illegal immigrants, some of them single men and women, and some of them with families. We met a six-month-old baby.
All had been detained by Border Patrol, and they were being identified before being sent to a processing center.
This is a sad situation. Not just what these migrants face to get here — dealing with the coyotes and the cartels — but then what they will face in their future.
These migrants will head north, and they will be forced to work off what they owe the coyotes for getting them across our border.
Many of them will be funneled into lives of indentured servitude. Some of them into human trafficking and sex trafficking.
But, Mr. President, this is not only an enormous humanitarian crisis and a drug crisis.
This is a national security crisis.
I'm a senior member on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Our trip to the Rio Grande Valley reaffirmed that the frenzy at our southern border is nothing short of a national security disaster.
The United States does not have control of the southwest border.
Do you know who does? The Mexican cartels.
When we cannot control who is entering our country, when we cannot control what they are bringing into our country, or where they're going, that is a serious national security risk.
In Fiscal Year 2022, border agents arrested 98 suspected terrorists who were trying to enter the country illegally between our ports of entry.
During the previous administration, this number was never higher than six. Since October, border agents have arrested another 53 people on the terrorist watch list.
President Biden's mismanagement of the border has created a total catastrophe.
And thanks to him, we are experiencing not only a homeland security crisis, but also a homeland defense crisis.
This visit to the border was so frustrating because we know that the dangerous criminal activity going on there is preventable.
The President's refusal to enforce our country's laws means that trafficking of people, drugs, weapons occurs unabated at our border.
In the Senate, we are trying to find solutions to the border crisis. I introduced a resolution with Senator Britt, who joined us on last week's border trip, which simply acknowledges the crisis of the southern border.
Let's just say there is a crisis that exists. That should be simple.
I joined Senator Britt to introduce the Keep Our Communities Safe Act, which would close the gaping 'catch-and-release' loophole allowing illegal immigrants to escape into our country.
I helped introduce Sarah's Law, sponsored by my colleague Senator Ernst, to require mandatory detention of illegal immigrants charged with violent crimes in our country and, in turn, better protect the public.
I'll keep urging my colleagues to join these bills, but there is a limit to what we can do while the President and his border czar Vice President Harris continue to turn a blind eye to what's going on in Texas.
Throwing taxpayer dollars at a smartphone app that facilitates border crossing appointments for migrants, that's not going to cut it.
We need the President and Vice President to do their jobs and enforce the laws that keep our country safe.
Step out of the White House, President Biden, and take a look at what's happening. When you say you travel to the border, go to the border.
The administration continues to release thousands of migrants into the United States each and every month, holding on to the pipe dream that they'll voluntarily show up in court next year.
And there are thousands more 'gotaways' who continue evading Border Patrol and entering this country illegally.
The President needed to deal with this mess yesterday. It is far past time for this administration to show us some recognition that the President understands how dangerous this is.
Time is up for President Biden to move past the photo ups and to reach across the aisle to find serious solutions.
Maintaining our national security should not be a partisan goal. It should be an American goal.
Neglecting our border means more drugs brought into our country, more women and children facing a life of sex trafficking, and more threats to the security of our nation.
Let's get our border security bills passed and deal with this situation once and for all.
Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.
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