Weekly Columns

The disaster on our southern border has been raging since the beginning of the Biden administration. Migrants have been rushing to cross into the United States ever since it became clear President Biden was not committed to border security and immigration enforcement.

This is a crisis in every sense of the word, and it’s only getting worse despite every possible sign that a course correction is necessary.

There are numerous examples demonstrating this is not just a policy failure, but a complete breakdown of the rule of law whose effects are spilling out across our society.

Over 200,000 migrants were encountered at the southern border in August, extending a pattern of increased illegal immigration levels since January 2021. There have been over two million border crossings this fiscal year, already breaking last year’s historically high level.

Beyond the erosion of sovereignty and undermining of our commitment to the rule of law, there are even greater causes for concern.

Border security is national security. If the picture at the border is any indication of our preparedness, then we are under serious threat.

As of August, 78 individuals on the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database have been apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel.

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress that there are “significant security issues” related to our southern border and that terrorists are looking for any potential vulnerability to exploit, which should be genuine cause for alarm. 

Other potential criminal elements are also seeking to use the chaos to their advantage. Over 600 known gang members have been stopped at the border this year – nearly twice as many as in 2021 or 2020 – as well as 9,381 criminal migrants, almost quadruple the number encountered two years ago.

None of these figures include the over 500,000 migrants who escaped apprehension – known as “got-aways” – who reached the interior of the United States this year and disappeared. 

Bad actors flocking to our country presents all sorts of risks to our communities, but one unquestionably heightened danger is the relentless flow of fentanyl onto America’s streets.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s up to 50 times stronger than heroin, is now the leading cause of death among Americans aged 18-45. Lethal doses, amounting to just two milligrams, have taken the lives of hundreds of Arkansans in the last few years. Worse still, the Drug Enforcement Administration is warning that in addition to this narcotic being mass-produced and laced into fake prescription medication, it is now also being targeted at some of our youngest Americans in the form of brightly colored pills made to look like candy. “Rainbow fentanyl” has been seized in at least 18 states to date.

This deadly drug flows into our country from China with the help of Mexican drug cartels. Although CBP is seizing record levels at our ports of entry, they aren’t intercepting all of it, including what’s brought by smugglers who avoid detection altogether.

This just scratches the surface of what our overwhelmed border means for Americans. 

With such a failure of border and immigration policy, every state in the union is now a border state. It’s time the administration and my Democratic colleagues in Congress recognize it and work in a bipartisan way to restore order, promote safety and uphold the rule of law at our southern border.