Congressman Jim Bridenstine Visits Southern Border
Washington, DC, October 30, 2014 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Obama Administration is utterly failing to protect American sovereignty and safety. Based on the response at my Securing America Town Hall, it's clear many folks in my District understand that border security is national security.
Last Friday, I went on a fact-finding visit to the southern border with my friend Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). We visited with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel manning the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) sector.
The RGV is immense. The sector covers 316 border miles, about 35,000 square miles total, and spans 34 Texas counties. RGV is the most trafficked sector in the country for human smuggling and drug cartel activity. RGV accounts for about 50% of total annual apprehensions of illegal immigrants along the southern border. Rep. Blackburn and I visited the McAllen Border Patrol Station and RGV Centralized Processing Center before meeting with CBP agents and National Guard personnel on the front lines.
Here are my takeaways:
1. We need to reallocate funding to border security. Rio Grande Valley CBP apprehended over 250,000 illegal immigrants in FY14 with only 3,000 agents and an operational budget of less than $20 million. Those numbers are woefully insufficient, and funds can be reprogrammed from lower priority accounts.
2. The Obama Administration is prioritizing environmental protection over border security. Protected Wildlife Refuges comprise over 60% of the RGV area. Border Patrol operations are totally hamstrung in refuge areas by regulations which limit access and provide a safe haven for cartels to smuggle people and drugs.
3. Access and surveillance are key enablers of immigration enforcement. RGV leadership told me that providing only 2 or 3 more aerostat surveillance balloons would make a huge, immediate difference by greatly expanding coverage. Since this is a national security issue, I intend to introduce provisions in next year's National Defense Authorization Act to authorize a military transfer of surveillance technology to the CBP.
4. Article 1, section 8 of the U.S. Constitution makes clear that Congress has the authority to create "an uniform rule of naturalization", not the President. The President's unconstitutional "deferred action" policies incentivized mass waves of illegal immigration. Simply put, deferred action is a euphemism for not enforcing the law. Now, the President wants to drastically expand deferred action to cover 34 million illegal immigrants over 5 years. According to CBP, even talking about further deferred action executive orders will spur massive illegal immigration. According to CBP officials, every communication from elected officials, including President Obama, regarding amnesty or border security is monitored by transnational criminal organizations that smuggle humans. These communications are used to encourage or discourage more illegal immigration.
5. Threatening to cut foreign aid provides leverage that will cause Mexico and Central American governments to act responsibly regarding illegal immigration. During the high point of the UAC crisis, the U.S. House passed H.R. 5230, which included Congressman Blackburn's language to suspend foreign aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador until those countries made significant progress to stem the flow of illegal immigration into the United States. RGV leadership told me that H.R. 5230 had a dramatic effect on the behavior of consular officials from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The mere threat of congressional action caused these consular officials to tell illegal immigrants to stay home once deported rather than try to cross the border again and again.
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