By Sen. Mike Rounds

R-South Dakota

The crisis at our southern border shows no signs of slowing down, as the number of individuals attempting to cross our border illegally continues at a rapid pace. In May of this year, border patrol agents made 132,887 apprehensions. That is three times more than the same month in 2018, and nine times more than the same month in 2017. This has overwhelmed our system as our border patrol agents are overburdened and detention facilities are growing more crowded every day by individuals who have illegally crossed our border. The result has been both a border security crisis and a humanitarian crisis along our southern border.

How did we get here in the first place? Our broken immigration policy is primarily to blame. Central Americans, living in countries without the opportunities and freedoms we have in the U.S., want to come here for a better, more prosperous life. Due to our generous asylum laws, word has spread among citizens in Central America that if they can reach our soil, they can claim asylum and stay in the United States until their court hearing, in which a decision is made whether their asylum claim is legitimate. Because immigration judges are overwhelmed with backlogged cases, the court date is often years away. According to the administration, 90 percent of the asylum seekers fail to show up to their court date. There is currently a backlog of more than 875,000 immigration cases.

Asylum is meant to provide a safe haven for individuals fleeing persecution. It should be a last resort for those sincerely fearing for their lives — not be used as a free ticket into the United States for those who would simply prefer to live in our country. Under current law, those who want to live in the U.S. should go through the legal immigration process instead of falsely claiming asylum to get across the border, and those who want to legitimately claim asylum should do so at the ports of entry at our southern border.

President Trump’s administration has recently taken steps to help stem the flow of illegal immigrants by issuing an interim rule that changes the process for those seeking asylum. Under the rule, migrants who enter through our southern border will be ineligible for asylum unless they apply for and are denied asylum in one of the countries they traveled through first.

It’s not often that I agree with the New York Times, but a recent editorial declared that “The United States needs an immigration policy that combines border security, justice and humanity.” I couldn’t agree more. The status quo fails to protect our borders, fails to address the humanitarian crisis and fails to uphold legal immigration which is meant to meet our country’s needs. The administration’s rule is a good start, as is the border supplemental bill passed in June that provides $4.59 billion in additional funding to help improve the situation at the border. Additionally, the administration authorized the deployment of more troops to the border, for a total force of 6,600 who are tasked with providing support to Customs and Border Patrol. But these are only temporary patches and they don’t address the entire problem.

Congress must take action if we are ever to find a long-term solution to strengthen our borders, fix the humanitarian crisis and make certain our legal immigration system is merit-based so we can adequately meet our workforce needs. We must do better, and I continue to stand ready to work with my colleagues — on both sides of the aisle — to fix the crisis once and for all.

(21) comments

Justthinking

So, why didn’t you do anything when you controlled all three power cords.

antiteaparty

Weird that immigration has gotten worse in the 2.5 years that "Tough on Crime, Tough on Immigration" Dump has been President. Two of those years Republicans had total control of the federal government. Just one more instance of consistently failed agendas of the Republican party.

dmilroy

The idea Donald Trump and his party including Trump advocate Senator Rounds could support an immigration policy that combines border security, justice and humanity is laughable. In elected American black and brown congresswomen are not considered real American's by this president. What chance do brown skin, central Americans have to a fair shake? The interment camps (1940's) and the rejection of refugees (1930's) were an shameful legacy of our the past until ethnic nationalists Republicans like Trump and Steve King gained power and cowed Republicans who should know better like Mike Rounds.

Dave Gorak

This crisis is a creation of the federal government that for decades has looked the other way while the immigration laws it created to protect Americans and their jobs went unenforced to the degree they should have been. Don't blame Trump because as they used to say in Hollywood years ago when promoting their "blockbuster" movies, this problem "has been years in the making and with a cast of thousands. If you prefer, you might think of it in biblical terms, i.e. Hosea, 8:7 - "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind." In the end, however, it's up to those Americans worthy of the name to decide whether this republic and the ideas it was founded on are worth saving. http://www.MidwestCoalitionToReduceImmigration.org

antiteaparty

You mean like - "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Dave Gorak

You're referring to the Emma Lazarus poem that was never engraved on the Statue of Liberty whose official name is "Liberty Enlightening the World," not Liberty "Inviting" the World. You need a better understanding of this issue before you can discuss it intelligently. I suggest you start by reading Robert Suro's July 5, 2009 , opinion piece that appeared in The Washington Post, "She was never about those huddled masses." Check it out here: https://www.montanamile.org/national_news/art_national_2009jul05.html

antiteaparty

Funny that you would reference an opinion piece written by a single individual which is then picked up by the white supremacist (MILE) website. Huh, no agenda there. I find nothing else out there there that supports Suro's opinion. If you can I'd be happy to reconsider my view. Please refrain from white nationalist/supremacist website to support your view. Perhaps it is you who needs a better understanding of the issue before discussing it intelligently.

Jchristian

Until Congress passes asylum reform and universal e-verify, we have no control over future numbers. No matter what politicians claim , they’ve given us open borders. That’s the reality, and that’s why people come. Congress knows exactly what to do to stop it, but they won’t do it. They won’t enforce our laws, and they can’t bear to say No to anyone and any number of people in the world who want access to our jobs, our schools, our healthcare. Any pretense at enforcing our laws is soap opera. They aren’t serious.

Dave Gorak

Exactly. Congress now represents those who have no respect for our sovereignty and believe they are entitled to come here. It's all about new voters for Democrats and continued cheap labor for the business community.

dmilroy

Your idea that Democrats don't represent Americans is obviously false. Treating people with dignity does not mean disrespecting national sovereignty. The Chamber of Commerce who has long advocated weak immigration laws and cheap labor is a predominantly Republican organization. The only documented wide spread voter fraud in the country was run by the Republican candidate in North Carolina. https://time.com/5535292/north-carolina-election-fraud/

Dave Gorak

"Antiteaparty" still doesn't get it. The official name of the Statue of Liberty and why it was created and given to us by the French speaks for itself. It has never had anything to do with immigration. What's not to understand? Case closed.

antiteaparty

Dave Gorak is the executive director for Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration. His twitter is @lessimmigration. I think it is important for yankton.net readers to know who he is.

Dave Gorak

"I think it is important for yankton.net readers to know who he is." Well, so do I. Do you have a problem with reducing immigration. If so, then you must also have a problem with couples who decide to have fewer children than their parents or grandparents because in your world that means they are "anti-child," right?

dmilroy

"Do you have a problem with reducing immigration?" Mr. Gorak's question ignores the history of America. We are a nation of immigrants. Immigrants continue to make our county great. When Mr. Gorak writes about "Americans worthy of the name" I think of my brother-in-law. My brother-in-law was born in Tunisia and became a US citizen prior to his first deployment. He served in the Iraqi invasion with the 101st Airborne. He was awarded the bronze star for valor. They "stop loss" him and sent him back for a second tour as a civil affairs officer. He missed the birth of his first child. He is a systems engineer for Juniper.

Dave Gorak

Memo to dmilroy: Our organization supports the recommendations of President Clinton's immigration reform commission that was chaired by the late civil rights icon, Barbara Jordan.

dmilroy

Barbara Jordon never supported your immigration scheme. According the Barbara Jordon, “I believe the fact that America is a nation of immigrants should be a source of pride and not a reason to ignite virulent nationalism.” Barbara Jordon's commission stated “legal immigration has strengthened and can continue to strengthen this country.” Further, the commission “decrie[d] hostility and discrimination against immigrants as antithetical to the traditions and interests of the country.” Its recommendations sought to improve the admission process by ensuring the timely entry of immediate family members of US citizens and legal permanent residents (LPRs) as well as workers and refugees." The Jordon Commission viewed family migration as beneficial to the country. It was concerned, however, about the sustainability of the program because of the multiple categories with extremely long backlogs and waiting time. It recommended adding 150,000 visas per year to permit the more rapid admission of the spouses and minor children of LPRs, who faced waiting periods of as much as a decade. The Jordon Commission also supported effective protection of other migrants fleeing life-threatening situations. Jordan was personally active in ensuring protection of asylum seekers from Haiti, a country described by President Trump in highly derogatory terms. In 1994, she approached President Clinton directly to ask him to reverse the policies adopted in the Bush administration that returned Haitian boat people to Haiti without consideration of their claims for asylum. The Jordon commission recommended a floor on refugee admissions of 50,000, stating that foreign policy and humanitarian imperatives necessitated that the United States take a strong leadership role in assisting and protecting refugees worldwide. https://cmsny.org/publications/martin-barbara-jordan/

Dave Gorak

You are so typical of those who who hear and see only what they want to. Here are the Jordan Commission's guidelines and recommendations: https://www.numbersusa.com/content/learn/illegal-immigration/us-commission-immigration-reform-barbara-jordan-commission.html

dmilroy

Dave Gorak cannot dispute anything I've written so he links to an anti-immigrant webpage rather the Jordon Commission report.


Dave Gorak

Memo to dmilroy: Feel better now? https://www.numbersusa.com/sites/default/files/public/Testimony%20of%20Barbara%20Jordan_1995_Feb.%2024-1.pdf


dmilroy

Dave Gorak, if you had a valid argument, you wouldn't need be condensing. Mr. Gorak again posts to a pdf from an anti-immigrant website and not the Jordon Commission Report.


dmilroy

Dave Gorak, if you had a valid argument, you wouldn't need to be condensing. Mr. Gorak again posts to a pdf from an anti-immigrant website and not the Jordon Commission Report.


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