(CNSNews.com)— Acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan on Thursday reported a significant drop in the number of migrants crossing the southern border compared to last year - a fact he attributed to COVID-19 and a number of initiatives.
At the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s CBP Oversight hearing examining the challenges the agency is facing, Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) started by giving his condolences to Morgan and the families of seven CBP officers who lost their lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Morgan emphasized the sacrifice that Border Patrol agents make every day to do their jobs.
“They get up every day. They say goodbye to their loved ones, and they go to work protecting this nation. They are front line defenders … They are good, decent, honorable people who heroically carry out CBP’s broad mission day after day despite the risk to their own health and safety,” Morgan said.
During his statement, Morgan noted the noticeable drop in migrants attempting to cross the border this year compared to last year. In May 2019, 20,000 people who were trying to cross the border were being held in CBP custody.
This year, due to COVID and the implementation of different programs, CBP has only had approximately 150-200 people in their custody at any time. Out of those people, 95% are sent back to their countries.
“It is important to note,” Morgan said, “that CBP… as a whole were already better positioned to deal with this global pandemic because of the success of the administration’s network and immigration policy initiatives that had been placed 10 months prior to COVID. These initiatives, as well as our partnership with the government of Mexico and Central American countries, have already reduced the flow of illegal migration by 76% from the height in May 2019.”
While migrants trying to cross the border are decreasing from last year, Morgan said that drugs being brought across the border is increasing at an alarming rate.
This year, CBP agents have seized over 500,000 pounds of drugs—with methamphetamine crossing the border increasing by 66%. At first, there was a decline of drugs being brought across the border due to COVID, but Morgan says the cartels are “alive and well, and they adjusted quickly.”
“Border security is national security,” Morgan said. “This is why borders matter and importantly, why the wall matters as well.”
Johnson proceeded to ask about the wall and how effective it’s been so far.
Morgan said he wanted to clarify who the wall was built for. “This is not the president’s wall.”
“This is a wall system for the United States Custom and Border Protection, for the American people,” he said.
“This is something that when this administration came… they asked ‘What do you need?’ They actually asked men and women on the frontlines,” Morgan said, “and they said, ‘We need a border wall system.’”
Morgan said that he refers to the border wall as a border wall system and not just as a wall and that adding system to the name is very important.
“It’s not just a bunch of metal underneath the ground. It has integrated lighting technology, access roads. This new wall system—every mile that’s built is a new mile of capability that did not exist before,” Morgan said.
As of right now, there are 220 miles of wall system that has been built. Morgan said they are anticipating 450 miles by the end of the year.
“This is not a political statement,” Morgan said. “This is a factually based statement. Less people are able to enter in that area. Less drugs come across that area. Less criminals come across that area. Less gang members come across that area. It’s just a fact. We can prove it, and it’s effective… every Border Patrol agent on the lines will tell you that.”