As a member of the Senate Border Security and Enforcement First Immigration Caucus I am actively fighting for funding to protect our borders. National security is the federal government’s number one responsibility and we must allocate resources in support of border protection that accurately reflect this priority. I supported the president’s budget request for border security funding in the Senate Committee on Appropriations Fiscal Year 2019 Homeland Security bill and I will continue to advocate for increased resources for manpower and infrastructure in order to reduce illegal border crossings.
There is no doubt we have a border crisis that is escalating. Department of Homeland Security data shows that apprehensions along our southern border have nearly doubled in the past year. It is in our national interest to take necessary steps to provide the tools our Customs and Border Patrol (CPB) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers on the frontlines need to control our porous border and protect our communities and themselves as they carry out this important mission.
I’ve seen firsthand the challenges our interdiction agents face. In September, I visited the southwest border in California and Texas to see how we can improve policies to better control illegal immigration, human trafficking and drug smuggling. The need for more infrastructure—including roads for access, electronic devices for surveillance and fencing for deterrence—was echoed at each stop. We heard how border security upgrades improved community safety. Increased federal investment is necessary to achieve this on a larger scale.
Constructing a strong border security system coupled with enforcement of our immigration laws is a deterrent to those who seek to illegally enter our country. This is the first step to reforming our immigration system. We are a nation of immigrants and we can be proud of our history of welcoming and naturalizing those who follow the proper, legal process. We naturalize more new citizens annually than the rest of the world combined. We can maintain this guiding principle and continue its success by ensuring that individuals and families who wish to immigrate to the United States do so by obeying our laws.
Every day CBP, ICE and Coast Guard personnel put their lives on the line to enforce our laws, protect our borders and prevent drug smugglers from entering our country. Increasing funding in order to improve border security is a reasonable request. I agree with the president’s call for increased resources to defend our borders — a request that the House of Representatives recently supported. I am hopeful we can find a solution that expands investments in border security and funds the government.