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Southern border crisis needs swift, demonstrative actions

There is a crisis on the southern border.

The Biden administration’s reversal of the Trump border policies is incentivizing thousands of migrants to put their lives at risk and flood the U.S.-Mexico border. Cartels are taking advantage of the chaos, profiting off of drug and human trafficking.

For someone who railed against Trump’s affective border policies lacked compassion, Biden’s border policy is a false compassion.

Mothers and fathers are sending their unaccompanied children on a dangerous journey across Mexico, where they may be kidnapped and/or trafficked, on the assumption that they’ll be waived through the border. That is if they make it.

Border policy that incentivizes putting children in danger is not helping anyone in the U.S. or those leaving in their home country.

There can be no equivocation when sending a message to people who are thinking of illegally migrating. It has to be our border is closed.

It all began when President Biden’s campaign rhetoric suggested that if someone came to the U.S. from Central America, they would not be deported.

We are a country of immigrants. We accept immigration, but we cannot have policies that encourage illegal immigration and that’s clearly what the Biden administration is doing.

Early in this administration, DHS Secretary Mayorkas said “We’re not saying don’t come. We’re saying don’t come right now.” That’s a direct invitation to illegally migrate to the U.S.

It’s clear why they think they can enter our country illegally.

The Biden Administration has ended Trump policies aimed at curbing illegal immigration. For example, this administration has reaffirmed time and time again that they will not turn away any unaccompanied child.

That is leading to the surge we’re seeing today. It is unmistakable.

In mid-March, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledged this is the worst we have seen in the last 20 years.

This is not a “challenge” as Biden Press Secretary Psaki said. It’s a disaster. This is not due to the prior administration as DHS Secretary Mayorkas and Speaker Pelosi want us to believe. Whether this administration wants to recognize it or not, there is a crisis.

In February, CBP caught 100,441 people attempting to cross the Southwest border. That is roughly one person every five seconds for an entire month. Through February, CBP encountered 29,792 unaccompanied children and single minors. And 2,942 were under the age of 12. Think about that. Those are elementary and middle schoolers, alone in the desert.

Worse, the administration projects this surge of children at the border to only increase, and last through September — six more months!

In Donna, Texas, one CBP facility is 700 percent overcapacity. This means children are piled into crowded and deteriorating conditions. The Biden administration blocks media and press access to the border to hide how their policies have caused the crisis. This is unacceptable.

How do we get out of this? In the short term, we secure the border. In the long term, we address the root causes.

I don’t blame migrants for wanting to come to our country. Many are fleeing from poverty, violence, and corruption. We have a formal, legal immigration system exactly for this reason.

People from Latin America, and particularly the Northern Triangle countries, will continue to migrate to the U.S. if their country of origin does not provide the necessary conditions to thrive and provide a better future for their children.

If we wish to put a complete end to illegal migration, we must secure our borders and stop sending mixed messages. We must also create conditions in which people can remain in their home country; this requires addressing corruption and activities of illicit networks in the region. Criminal activity is part and parcel of the immigration crisis. When I visited the border, CBP was so overwhelmed that they didn’t have the capacity to check goods coming in and out of our country – goods like weapons and drugs.

Through foreign direct investment and enhancing trade relationships we can create economic opportunities at home for these migrants. We can contribute to security and stability in the region. This is part of stemming the tide of illegal immigration.

There is no one solution stopping irregular migration into our country. But it starts with a secure border and enforcing immigration laws. This administration needs to begin there.

Dr. Bill Cassidy is the senior U.S. Senator from Louisiana.