Tour Highlights Challenges Faced at the Southwest Border
Securing the southwest border requires monitoring 2,000 miles of territory from the air, on the ground, in the water, and even below ground.Crouching in a drug smuggler’s tunnel some 80 feet below ground gives you a good understanding of the unique challenges faced in maintaining the security of America’s borders. Securing the southwest border requires monitoring 2,000 miles of territory from the air, on the ground, in the water, and even below ground. Just a few days ago, I led a bipartisan delegation of House Judiciary Committee members to the Rio Grande Valley and San Diego Sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border. While we were there we got to see firsthand what federal officials face while working to secure our borders, enforce immigration laws, and combat human and drug smuggling.
Our first stop was near McAllen, Texas. During a briefing at the McAllen Border Patrol Station, we learned that in the last year the Rio Grande Valley Sector apprehended over 22,000 unaccompanied alien minors and over 47,000 family units, far higher than any other sector along the border. We also toured the Rio Grande by boat to see landing points used to gain entry into the United States. Additionally, Border Patrol demonstrated the different techniques they deploy to overcome rugged terrain. The horse patrol unit, which provides agents with increased mobility, is an especially effective tool in the fight against illegal immigration along this part of the border.
The second portion of the trip took us to San Diego. While there, we were briefed on the Border Infrastructure System, a 14-mile stretch of double fencing that separates San Diego from Tijuana, Mexico. We also had the opportunity to view six completed prototypes for the proposed border wall. In the coming days, testing will begin to determine which design is most effective.
In the San Diego area, tunnels are a popular way to smuggle drugs and humans into the United States. Border Patrol officers took us to an elaborate tunnel they have discovered that starts in a warehouse in Mexico and extends toward a warehouse in the United States. Another stop was at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the largest in the world, where on average 137,000 individuals cross into the United States every day by vehicle or on foot. We also received an aerial tour of the coastline by U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations. Local beaches are popular landing spots for those seeking to enter the U.S. illegally by boat. It’s clear that federal officials on the ground are using every tool in the toolbox to monitor the border, and I thank them for their hard work.
While the methods used to gain illegal entry into our country vary greatly between Texas and San Diego, one thing is the same. Years of lax enforcement policies have wreaked havoc on our borders. Millions of people have been allowed to flout our immigration laws. The Trump Administration’s efforts to curb illegal immigration by enforcing our immigration laws have been met with success, but as we heard from immigration officials on the ground, there are still loopholes in the law that are being exploited. The Judiciary Committee will continue working to close these dangerous loopholes in order to maintain the integrity of America’s immigration system.