Meuser Op-Ed: Secure Our Border, End the Shutdown
The following op-ed was authored by Congressman Dan Meuser (PA-9) and appeared in 9th District news publications.
America is in the midst of a worsening security crisis at our southern border. Along with people seeking a better life, every day, drugs, criminals, and gang elements illegally enter our country.
Here is the reality of the security challenges we face:
- A 73% increase in fentanyl coming across the border in the last year. Last year alone, our Border Patrol seized 2,400 pounds of fentanyl — enough to administer a lethal dose to every living American.
- 282,000 pounds of cocaine and 248,000 pounds of methamphetamine were stopped from reaching American soil as well. Overall, 1.7 million pounds of narcotics were seized. That is only the amount we were able to intercept successfully. We don’t know how much was missed.
- 17,000 adults with existing criminal records were apprehended by Customs and Border Patrol agents at the southern border. Law enforcement personnel arrested 6,000 individuals affiliated with violent gangs like MS-13. Again, what we don’t know is how many slipped through the gaps in our border security measures.
All of this threatens the safety of our families and our communities. The crisis at our border is humanitarian as well: 60,000 unaccompanied minors arrived at our border last year, along with some 161,000 families — more than ever before.
According to Doctors Without Borders, nearly one in three women are sexually assaulted on the journey. Seven in ten migrants are victimized by violence along the way, while scores of others fall victim to smugglers who earn millions by trafficking migrants.
As horrible a reality as this is, these are the facts. They are not exaggerated or misleading. In recent years the situation on the ground has gotten a lot worse. Anyone responsibly and objectively looking at these facts would conclude that this is a crisis, and that action must be taken to address it.
It’s why the Trump Administration is asking for $5.7 billion in funding that will help our Customs and Border Patrol agents get our border under control. This would fund the construction of 234 miles of new physical barriers (a wall) in regions where CBP experts deem appropriate. It will also fully fund the top 10 priorities in CBP’s Border Security Improvement Plan.
The President and Republicans have been willing to negotiate. We have put an offer on the table based on what the experts at Homeland Security say they need.
We have asked Democratic leadership to come to the table and negotiate in good faith. So far, they’ve refused. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that they are putting a political victory over a national security issue and reopening the government. They insist the grim reality at our border is a fabricated crisis.
Washington has kicked the can down the road on border security for long enough. It’s time for Speaker Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to put aside politics, reopen the government and provide for our border security needs.
This new Congress is an opportunity to show we can. If not now, then when?
By the way, it’s important to know that throughout the duration of the shutdown, tax refunds will be paid out by the IRS, flood insurance for homeowners will be unaffected, food stamps (SNAP) will not be interrupted and the Coast Guard will be paid.