The placard near the Statue of Liberty reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”
That statement was as true then as it is today. The lore of being a part of the land of the free and the home of the brave is inspiring. Unfortunately, those who spend the time and money to come here under our current legal process are being bypassed by millions who choose to cut the line. The result is a three-fold humanitarian, economic, and national security crisis.
The security of our borders is a crucial aspect of protecting the sovereignty of the United States and the safety of our citizens. In response to this ongoing crisis at the southern border, the Trump administration implemented a policy referred to as Title 42. A temporary stop-gap measure that allows for the rapid expulsion of individuals crossing the border illegally to protect America from COVID-19.
While this policy has been met with controversy and criticism, it is a necessary measure to address the current situation and protect the integrity of our border.
Just this week the Supreme Court put a temporary extension on Title 42, as the high court decides the fate of an emergency request from Republican Attorneys’ General to keep it in place. In the past two years, there has been a significant increase in the number of illegal crossings at the southern border. According to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, there were 2.4 million people apprehended for illegally crossing our southern border in 2022 – up from 1.7 million in 2021. These increases put a serious strain on the resources of border patrol agents and immigration officials.
Under Title 42, customs officials can immediately send back illegal border crossers without requiring them to go through the lengthy process of deportation proceedings. This policy has been effective in reducing the number of illegal crossings and allows agents to focus on catching drug traffickers carrying the deadly fentanyl that is killing our children.
Sadly, a byproduct of the Biden Administration’s non-existent border policy has resulted in a significant increase in the number of unaccompanied minors entering the U.S. Between 2020 and 2021, the number of unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border rose by 50%.
According to the most recent U.S. Customs and Border Protection stats, that number hit a record 149,000 unaccompanied minors who crossed in 2022, and were put into the federal shelter system.
You may recall seeing photos of the many children disembarking planes at Stewart Airport in Westchester in the early morning hours after the airport was closed. These minors who were bussed to points unknown are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, and it is important that we take steps to protect them and ensure that they are not put in harm’s way.
Critics of this policy argue that it is inhumane and violates the rights of individuals seeking asylum in the United States. However, it is important to note that Title 42 does not apply to individuals seeking asylum or those who have a valid claim to enter the United States. Instead, it is aimed at individuals who are crossing the border illegally and pose a threat to the security and integrity of our borders.
This Trump era policy has also been effective in combating the illegal trade of drugs and human trafficking at the border. According to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, there has been a significant increase in the number of drug trafficking arrests at the southern border in the past year.
Between 2021 and 2022 border patrol agents made over 25,000 arrests for drug trafficking, including 2,500 for trafficking fentanyl. Human trafficking is another serious concern at the border, and Title 42 has helped to combat this issue as well. In the past year, there has been a 50% increase in the number of human trafficking arrests at the southern border. These arrests are crucial in breaking up the networks of traffickers and protecting the victims of this heinous crime. This is a complicated problem that requires less political grandstanding by the Biden Administration and real action. The Obama-Biden policy of leading from behind is not only impacting the lives of these illegal crossers, but those Americans living in border states and beyond. Many Democrats, including President Biden for years, called for more border security. However, when Trump pushed for a wall in grandiose fashion, they all pivoted and advocated against him.
The new Republican House must make border security a key platform as it impacts so many drivers of our economic and national security. We are a compassionate nation, but we are also a nation of laws.
Anthony Figliola is a former Republican candidate for U.S. Congress (NY-1), and Executive Vice President of Empire Government Strategies.