(CNSNews.com) – Members of the Congressional Border Security Caucus visited the Rio Grande Valley, Texas sector of the U.S.-Mexico border last week and issued a press release expressing concern about border insecurity, the continued influx of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) and families, and policies put in place by the Obama administration that hinder Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and encourage illegal immigration.
“To be here and see firsthand, to talk to the agents face-to-face, it is clear the administration is not giving agents the tools they need to do their job effectively and safely,” said Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) about the tour, noting that those breaking federal immigration laws are not being prosecuted by the Obama Justice Department.
“Border security should be a top priority for this president, but is not,” Farenthold said. “The president is not allowing our Border Patrol agents to do their job and that is putting every American at risk.”
“Today we had the opportunity to see firsthand the challenges our border patrol agents and Texas Department of Public Safety officers face as they deal with the continuing surge of illegal immigrants on our Southern border,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who created the caucus in 2014. “Their jobs have been made harder by this administration’s policies that have undermined our immigration laws and continue to encourage illegal immigrants.”
According to CBP statistics, the number of unaccompanied alien children (ages 0-17) entering the United States is up 102 percent in fiscal year 2016 (Oct. 1, 2015 to Jan. 31, 2016) compared to the same period in fiscal year 2015 – 10,105 and 20,455 respectively.
The number of family units (family unit represents the number of individuals -- either a child under 18 years old, parent or legal guardian -- apprehended with a family member by CBP) increased 171 percent in fiscal year 2016 compared to the same period in fiscal year 2015 – 9,090 to 24,616 respectively.
At a hearing Thursday of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, testified that drug cartels responsible for the human trafficking of persons entering the country illegally have taken advantage of the Obama administration’s immigration policies.
“The cartels understood that the unaccompanied minors would force the Border Patrol to deploy agents to these crossing areas in order to take the minors into custody,” Judd said in his prepared remarks. “I want to stress this point because it has been completely overlooked by the press.
“The unaccompanied minors could have walked right up to the Port of Entry and asked for asylum,” Judd said.
“Why did the cartels drive them to the middle of the desert and then have them cross over the Rio Grande only to surrender to the first Border Patrol Agent they came across? The reason is that it completely tied up our manpower and allowed the cartels to smuggle whatever they wanted across our border,” Judd said.
“The creating of holes in Border Patrol operations was only one benefit to the cartels by the unaccompanied minor surge,” Judd said. “The other was the exploration of our ‘catch and release’ policy.
“As this surge became too much to handle, the Border Patrol and the Enforcement and Removal Office began releasing nearly everyone we arrested,” Judd said.
“With catch and release, the cartels could credibly say to potential customers that they would be able to remain in the United States without fear of deportation as long as they asked for asylum upon being apprehended,” Judd said.
Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) said Obama’s immigration policies aren’t just affecting border states like Texas.
“We’ve known all along that our border was not secure and that the Obama Administration’s immigration policies were failing to uphold the rule of law,” Black said. “Now, I have seen the impact of that with my own eyes.
“Tennessee may not be a border state, but President Obama’s unwillingness to combat the crisis of illegal immigration is felt throughout the country, including in states like my own,” Black said.