Senator Cornyn

The Biden Border Crisis

Under President Biden’s leadership, we’ve seen an unprecedented crisis at our southern border, and an administration that proves time and time again that they simply don’t care.

Since President Biden took office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has logged more than 5.4 million illegal border crossings, plus at least 1.5 million “gotaways” – that is, border crossers who were detected by CBP technology, but who were never apprehended.

President Biden claims this is all part of his plan to promote safe, orderly, and humane migration, but:

There’s nothing safe about the journey migrants take to the U.S. in the “care” of cartels and coyotes.

There’s nothing orderly about migrants using inflatable rafts and ropes to cross the Rio Grande.

There’s nothing humane about the Biden administration abandoning tens of thousands of unaccompanied migrant children as a result of the border crisis.

When it comes to the border crisis, there’s no single facet that encapsulates the entire problem. Whether it’s the pure number of migrants overwhelming Border Patrol and the municipal services of the towns they’re crossing into, or the illicit drugs like fentanyl pouring over the border, or the Biden administration’s willful disregard for the lives of unaccompanied children, the Biden Border Crisis looks different to everyone.

Below, I dive deeper into some of the ways this crisis is harming families, communities, and our national security. Take a look.

Since President Biden took office, around 300,000 unaccompanied children have been encountered at the border and then placed with sponsors inside the United States.

To be clear, these children did not arrive in the U.S. with their parents. The sad reality is that many come to the United States in the “care” of cartels, human smugglers, and coyotes. Parents pay smugglers thousands of dollars to bring their children to the U.S.

I have no doubt that when those children reached the United States, they thought they’d be safe. I’m sure they expected to live safe and happy lives while their immigration claims were considered, but we now know that countless children have experienced a new hell right here on American soil.

The New York Times published the first of two bombshell reports detailing the widespread exploitation and labor trafficking of migrant children here in the United States.

Children are being forced to work in meatpacking plants, food processing facilities, and construction jobs. They’re being treated as indentured servants as they try to pay off the debts they owe their traffickers.

And there’s no question that the Biden Administration is complicit, after reading the New York Times’ second bombshell exposé.

Once unaccompanied children are apprehended and processed at the border, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is charged with placing children with safe sponsors. According to longstanding policy, 30 days later, the agency follows up by phone to ensure the child is safe.

On both counts – the pre-placement vetting and the post-placement wellness check – the Biden Administration has completely fumbled its responsibilities.

HHS loosened vetting requirements in order to get children out of shelters as fast as possible, with no regard for the dangers that created, simply because they didn’t like the criticism they were getting as a result of overcrowding.

The New York Times has documented that at least 85,000 of those 300,000 children cannot even be reached after 30 days.

The Biden administration can’t tell you where these children are, or whether they’re being fed, sent to school, abused, or worked to the bone. The Biden Administration has no idea.

Over the past couple of years, the Department of Health and Human Services has received countless warnings that children were in danger.

Those warnings came through its own hotline, government contractors, and scores of employees who sounded the alarm.

Not only did senior leaders at HHS and the White House ignore the warnings of whistleblowers – they tried to silence them. Senior Biden administration officials retaliated against employees who shone a light on this massive abuse, with some going so far as terminating employees who tried to speak out about this government-enabled abuse.

As a result, countless children have remained in dangerous situations, just so the Administration could avoid a PR headache.

The bottom line is this: President Biden and senior officials within his administration knew that children were being abused and trafficked because of their actions, and not only did they do nothing to stop it, they even worked to move kids out of government care & into this abuse faster. The Biden Administration does not care about these children and must be held accountable.

The fentanyl epidemic is killing more than 70,000 people a year in the United States, making it the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 49.

We know the fentanyl epidemic doesn’t discriminate. It kills people old and young, rich and poor, from both major cities and small towns.

And we know the overwhelming majority of fentanyl comes across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Precursor chemicals are manufactured in China and shipped to Mexico. Those chemicals are used by Mexican drug cartels to produce fentanyl in secret drug labs before the cartels traffic this deadly fentanyl across America’s southern border and distribute it to communities around the country.

Between October 2022 and April 2023, Customs and Border Protection seized more than 17,000 pounds of fentanyl at the southern border.  In fact, from March of 2022 to March of 2023, CBP seized enough fentanyl to kill every single American 14 times over.

Unfortunately, we know CBP isn’t able to catch every ounce of illicit drugs coming across the border.

Over the past couple of years, the unprecedented border crisis has affected all of our missions at the southern border – even those that have nothing to do with migration.

Law enforcement have been shifted from the front lines in order to process and care for migrants. Instead of stopping dangerous drugs and criminals, many agents are now pushing paper and changing diapers.

No one is more thrilled by the situation than the drug cartels. With fewer agents on the front lines, they have a clear and easy path to move fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, and other deadly drugs into the United States.

Our communities are being ravaged by the overdose epidemic, and the Biden administration has given the cartels clear and easy corridors to traffic even more poison into the United States.

When Attorney General Merrick Garland testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year, I brought up the role cartels play in the ongoing border crisis.

I asked the Attorney General if he was familiar with the cartels’ strategy of flooding the border with migrants in order to overwhelm law enforcement so they can move illicit drugs across the border.

He clearly said yes, he was aware.

One of the most notable examples was in 2021 when more than 15,000 migrants arrived at the border in Del Rio, Texas, a town with a population of only about 35,000.

To state the obvious, the Del Rio Border Patrol Sector does not have the capacity to process and care for that many individuals at any given time. The sheer number of migrants was enough to overwhelm even one of the most prepared and well-equipped border patrol sectors.

In an attempt to help, the Biden administration moved agents from checkpoints in the Del Rio Sector to the area where the surge was happening.

As it turns out, this was all part of the cartel’s plan.

Administration officials later told Congressional staff that this massive surge of migrants was a coordinated effort by the cartels.

The cartels directed Haitian migrants to a single location so personnel from other areas would be moved, clearing a path for their illicit trade corridor.

Every single day, the United States is getting played by cartels and criminal organizations whose illegal businesses are as lucrative as they are diverse.

But Border Patrol are not the only ones being impacted. From El Paso to Brownsville, these cities and towns lack the resources to properly care for hundreds of migrants. Some need food and shelter, others need medical attention or transportation, but President Biden has not interest in helping provide for these migrants – that’s a burden he places squarely on the shoulders of hardworking Texans. Many times these waves of migrants are nearly as large as the entire populations of the communities they’re coming into, overwhelming their hospitals, overcrowding their shelters, and spilling out onto streets and into parks.

I spoke with business leaders from the El Paso region who shared with me the impact the border crisis has had on the local economy. When El Paso was overwhelmed by a major migrant surge in April of 2023, many businesses shut down, while others that had been planning to open up shop, bringing jobs and growth to the region, instead looked elsewhere. They all decided that with the influx of migrants overwhelming law enforcement and first responders, it was too dangerous to operate a business.

This crisis is not as simple as just breaking immigration law – it places burdens on the towns, families, and hardworking Texans who live near our southern border. This is a national problem, yet the most severe impact is focused on a small group of committed Americans who are simply looking for the Biden Administration to do its job.

We Texans know all too well that there’s a crisis on our southern border, and we know who’s to blame.

Migrants from all around the world are showing up at our border, and the Biden administration is releasing them into the country.

The cartels are taking advantage of the chaos they’ve created to bring crime and violence to our communities. They’re smuggling deadly drugs like fentanyl in quantities so large they could kill every single American more than 14 times over.

But sadly, there’s another growing crisis at our southern border, and it directly impacts the brave men and women of Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, who have dedicated themselves to doing all they can to keep us safe.

The Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General recently released a report that told the devastating story of overworked and overwhelmed Border Patrol agents and CBP officers.

According to the report, the Biden Border Crisis has “had negative impacts on the health and morale of law enforcement personnel, who already feel overworked and unable to perform their primary law enforcement duties.”

The men and women securing our border deserve better.

Hearing about these crises is enough to make your blood boil.

The Biden administration cut corners in order to quickly place migrant children with sponsors. It exerted minimal effort to follow up with those children and ensure they were safe and healthy.

At the same time, the chaos caused by the border crisis has led to a security breakdown, which enables fentanyl and other dangerous drugs to pour into the United States.

Despite the widespread suffering caused by the Biden Administration’s failures, the President and senior officials don’t seem to care.  

I have joined with my Republican colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee to continue to hold them to account on behalf of our border communities, our brave Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers, and all Texans.