It’s undeniable: There’s a crisis at the southern border, and Joe Biden is to blame | Opinion

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The Biden administration’s open-border policies have fueled crime, undermined public safety and overwhelmed our federal, state and local law enforcement officers. Looking at Fiscal Year 2023 alone, more than 2.3 million migrants illegally entered our country, and illicit fentanyl smuggled into the United States through the southern border killed more than 112,000 Americans. These record-shattering numbers are the tragic reality of President Biden’s border crisis.

Never have I seen such a crisis on our southern border, and it is deeply troubling that the Biden administration denies there’s a problem. Better yet, this administration insists that they don’t “bear responsibility” for this crisis. The sad truth is President Biden and his administration are responsible, and they have no desire to reverse their misguided policies.

In numerous attempts to shift blame, President Biden and his administration have insisted that Congress is the only entity that can stop this crisis. While Congress can enact immigration reform, the president has the power to use his broad executive authority to end the flow of illegal immigration at our southern border today. But, despite this being a top concern for Americans, he refuses to do so on his own.

This crisis no longer only affects the states that border Mexico — every state has become a border state. What’s happening at the border is many of my constituents’ top concern.

Idaho’s growing drug threat is a direct result of the open border. A few weeks ago, Idaho sheriffs visited my office in Washington, D.C., and voiced their concerns about how the lawless border is the worst they have seen in their decades of service. Listening to their firsthand experiences about the rising rate of fentanyl overdoses in Idaho and the amount of illicit drugs pouring into our state was gut-wrenching.

The flow of fentanyl and dangerous substances entering our country should be enough to crack down on border security. We’ve seen fentanyl seizures and overdoses skyrocket throughout the last three years, and these numbers are continuing to grow at an alarming rate. Last year alone, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), including Air and Marine Operations, seized 27,293 pounds of fentanyl coming across the southern border — this astonishing number is enough to kill more than six billion people.

One of the greatest challenges our brave border patrol agents face is the lack of control at the border. The agents serving on the front lines frequently encounter dangerous gangs, cartel members, and human smugglers. Criminal organizations and terrorists are exploiting the crisis at our southern border, threatening the security of our agents who work to keep us safe.

My chief of staff recently visited the southern border to see firsthand how the Biden administration’s policies affect border patrol agents and communities nearby. During conversations with local sheriffs and law enforcement, they explained how the Biden administration’s policies differ drastically from past administrations.

For example, most of the wall at the southern border was built under the Obama and Trump administrations. When President Biden took over, he immediately halted construction of the border wall, leaving miles of construction supplies on the ground and the construction of a physical barrier that could aid border patrol agents in their fight to control the border, unfinished.

Congress has the ability to enact needed immigration policy, but any meaningful immigration reform must follow a successful effort to secure the border. House Republicans passed H.R.2, the Secure the Border Act — the most comprehensive border security package in history — almost 300 days ago. If this bill were to pass the Senate and be signed into law, it would reinstate Trump-era policies like resuming construction of the wall, ending “catch and release” and hiring additional border patrol agents to secure our border.

Idahoans and Americans nationwide deserve nothing less than a secure border. A lawless and open border puts border patrol agents, rural communities, and American families at risk. Fiscal Year 2024 is on pace to be the worst year in history for illegal immigration, and it is unmistakably clear that we need a solution to this problem.

Until President Biden secures our nation’s southern border, it will be nearly impossible for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Illegal entry into our nation is perceived as commonplace, and it is conducted with little fear of consequences. That must change, both for the security of our nation and to help restore the dignity and importance of legal immigration in the eyes of all Americans. This crisis is fixable. President Biden must reverse his misguided policies so Congress can work to resolve our broken immigration system.

Mike Simpson is a Republican representing Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District.