OPINION

From the Governor with Pete Ricketts

Nebraska City News-Press

Fixing our broken southern border

On Oct. 6, I traveled to Texas to get a firsthand look at the deteriorating conditions along our country’s southern border.  The Biden-Harris administration’s rush to undo Trump’s immigration policies has created a humanitarian and security disaster that continues to unfold.  

Over the last several months, law enforcement in Texas has been overwhelmed with the surge of illegal crossings as the federal government fails to do its job.  States like Nebraska have stepped up to support Texas, sending state troopers to provide assistance.

Even in the midst of this chaos, many men and women are making immense sacrifices to keep our communities safe.  Thank you to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, National Guard, and other law enforcement for working through this crisis.  They truly are heroes who deserve our thanks and our support.  With the proper resources, they can end Biden’s border crisis and help restore order at the border.  We are indebted to them for their service, and need to keep them in our prayers.

The situation on the border has changed very quickly with the new administration.  Under President Trump’s leadership in 2017, arrests on the border hit a 45-year low as deportations increased.  

While the Trump administration prioritized border security and reduced illegal border crossings, President Biden’s reckless policies have reignited the crisis.  Last year, there were around 270,000 illegal crossings through the first 8 months of the year.  

During the same time period in 2021, there have been over 1.3 million.  That’s nearly a fivefold increase since President Biden took office.  Vice President Kamala Harris has also failed to show leadership on the issue—even though the President tasked her with addressing this crisis.  She has given speeches, but has yet to offer a meaningful policy proposal to address the crisis.

As border crossings have surged, deportations dropped to record lows under the Biden administration this spring.  

On Sept. 30, the Biden-Harris administration announced it will no longer deport illegal immigrants solely for entering the country unlawfully.  Additionally, the administration has announced they will no longer conduct workplace immigration operations.  These new policies further weaken enforcement of immigration law, and send the signal that it’s ok to come to our country illegally.

The situation on the southern border has a very real impact on Nebraska and other states in our region.  Cartels in Mexico are exploiting the current crisis to evade law enforcement and sneak illicit drugs into the U.S.  

On Sept. 27, the DEA issued an alert to warn that criminal drug organizations are producing counterfeit pills containing fentanyl that resemble prescription drugs like oxycodone.  They’re selling these drugs through online platforms to anyone with access to a smartphone.  

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) Omaha Office, most of the drugs in Nebraska containing fentanyl are made in Mexico and transported across the southern border to reach our state.  So far, Nebraska has confiscated 25 pounds of fentanyl this year, more than double what was confiscated last year.  

Biden’s policies are putting kids and families at risk.  In September, the Mexican government reported that human smuggling crimes have more than tripled since 2020 due to major increases in illegal immigration to the United States.  Law enforcement in Texas has engaged in far more high-speed chases as smugglers seek to elude capture.  

NPR reports that the frequency of these chases is endangering local residents:  “In the town of Cotulla, located on Interstate 35 north of Laredo, school officials warned parents to be watchful of their children playing outside and walking home from school because the sheriff's department was conducting 8 to 10 high-speed car chases a day,” with criminals often bailing out of their vehicles to escape on foot.

The number of unaccompanied minors illegally crossing into the U.S. is on pace to reach record highs in 2021.  Along the Tucson segment of the Arizona-Mexico border, U.S. Border Patrol has seen a 189 percent increase in the number of unaccompanied children attempting illegal entry to the U.S.  

Last month, agents of the U.S. border patrol found a female toddler and her baby brother who had been abandoned in vegetation along the Rio Grande River.  While these children were rescued, others haven’t been as fortunate.  The bodies of an 11-year old girl and her mother were discovered in the Arizona desert in August after they tried to make an illegal crossing.  Law enforcement was able to rescue a 2-year old boy who was with them.  

According to extended family members, they had been abandoned by the human smuggler who had taken them across the border.

While the urgency of this crisis can hardly be overstated, President Biden seems to think it will simply go away if he ignores it long enough.  But it’s not going away—it’s only getting worse.  That’s why I’ve worked closely with fellow governors to put together a ten-point plan to address the border crisis.  

Among other steps, our plans calls for the Biden administration to:

Continue Title 42 public health restrictions

Fully reinstate the Migrant Protocol Protections

Finish securing the border

End catch and release

Clear the judicial backlog

Resume the deportation of all criminals

Dedicate federal resources to eradicate human trafficking and drug trafficking

Re-enter all agreements with our Northern Triangle partners and Mexico

Send a clear message to potential migrants

Deploy more federal law enforcement officers

These are some of the steps that can help secure the southern border and protect our communities.  We know these policies worked because they worked under the Trump administration, and they will work again when they are put to use.  

You can read our full plan by going to my website at www.Governor.Nebraska.gov.  If you have questions about it, please email pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or call 402-471-2244.

Pete Ricketts, Nebraska Govenor