Weekly Column

Aug 15 2022

Public Safety

By U.S. Senator Deb Fischer

**There is no audio of this week’s column**

 Every American deserves to feel safe in their community. Yet over the last few years, violent crime has spiked across the country.

Defunding the police or taking resources away from our men and women in blue is never the answer. Instead, we must provide law enforcement with the support and tools they need to carry out their duties.

That’s why I recently joined some of my colleagues in introducing legislation to clarify and strengthen violent crime laws. This includes homicide, bank robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, and other offenses.

Legal loopholes and outdated provisions for violent federal offenses have contributed to the dramatic increase in criminal activity many regions are experiencing. The bill, known as the Combating Violent and Dangerous Crime Act, would clarify and enhance penalties for a broad range of violent crimes.

This is sensible legislation to restore accountability for certain violent crimes and protect public safety. It should receive bipartisan support, yet so far, no Democrats have cosponsored the bill.

Another aspect of public safety is our southern border. The Biden Administration not only has failed to secure the border, but also has made policy decisions that weaken border security.

This June, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had an astounding 207,416 migrant encounters. Total encounters since October 2021 have reached 1,746,119, which is the most the agency has recorded in a fiscal year for 6 decades. 

The Administration’s failure to secure the border poses a serious threat to public safety. Thousands of migrants continue to enter the country unchecked, and we continue to see harms from human trafficking and drug smuggling. In particular, drug cartels take advantage of vulnerabilities at the border to smuggle dangerous narcotics like fentanyl into communities across the country.

At every turn, the Biden Administration has pursued lenient immigration policies and demonized CBP officers who risk their lives to enforce our borders. In my previous April column, I discussed President Biden’s misguided effort to end the Title 42 border authority prematurely – a crucial pandemic-era tool to help border agents control migrant flows.

A judge has thankfully blocked the administration from ending the provision for the time being.

Despite the ongoing crisis, the Biden Administration is still intent on reversing President Trump’s successful border policies. Most recently, the administration ended the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). The MPP program is critical for organizing migrant entry into the United States, reducing the volume of migrants released into the country, and expediting asylum decisions. In the program’s first year, apprehensions along the southern border dropped by 30%.

Again, this is the wrong decision by the Biden Administration. Softening our immigration policies and procedures will only worsen the chaos at the southern border.

There are a number of legislative solutions Congress can and should pursue to counteract these border blunders.

This includes the Keep Our Communities Safe Act – a bill I recently joined that would close a legal loophole perpetuating “catch and release” immigration practices. 

I’ve also joined legislation to require the Department of Homeland Security to complete a comprehensive strategy for securing the southern border and efforts to combat human smuggling and drug trafficking.

Then there is the Asylum Accountability Act – another important bill that would increase the penalty for migrants who do not appear for immigration court hearings. This is needed to stop those who are taking advantage of the asylum system to live in the United States illegally for years.

If passed, all three of these bills would have an immediate and positive impact on border security.

Current administration policies and an open border are a direct threat to public safety. We must act to secure the border and enhance public safety.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

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