WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Republican Senator Jerry Moran wants Congress to take action to fix the ongoing crisis at the southern border.
Moran was one of eight senators who went to El Paso on Monday to visit the border, Border Patrol processing centers, and the temporary Emergency Migrant Operations Facility. Moran’s group included four Republicans, three Democrats, and one independent senator. The visit was one day after President Joe Biden visited the border.
Moran said he was disappointed to see how the president reacted to visiting El Paso.
“There was no sense of outrage or immediacy in needing to solve this problem,” Moran said.
“What I find is that the crisis continues,” he said. “This is my third visit over the last several years to border points along the southern border, and the number of people who are crossing the border is still significant, and the amount of effort it is taking to control that increase needs to be addressed.”
Moran said Border Patrol agents are being pulled from the border to take care of detainees seeking asylum.
“About 60% of them are called off the border to deal with detainees, people who come to the United States claiming asylum, and so they’re ending up doing the work of housing people, feeding people, taking care of them in a detention facility while much of the border goes unprotected,” Moran said.
He said it appears that agents and humanitarian groups are doing what they can to provide the right kind of care and treatment.
“There’s a lot of compassion that’s going on here,” Moran said.
But he said housing, feeding and caring for people in the detention facility is not what Border Patrol agents should be doing. And he said the facilities were not built for this kind of situation.
“The agents who are here need to be doing the jobs they were hired to do,” Moran said.
The senator says the problem is humanitarian for everyone. But he says the crisis is really about national security, law enforcement, drugs, and human trafficking.
“People who are coming here utilize the cartels to get them here, and those cartels are making millions and millions of dollars on that business, and in the process, delivering drugs to Americans,” Moran said. “This is a real challenge that needs immediate and full attention, and I’m hoping this group of senators will be part of that effort, but the Biden administration should be doing more themselves now.”
Moran is the lead Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI. He says he wants to make certain that law enforcement has the tools needed to help prevent illegal drugs and criminals from crossing the border.
He said the fence along the border is helping Border Patrol agents by reducing the points where people can cross and slowing the crossings.
“A number of Border Patrol agents told me they have kids, too,” Moran said. “They want to help keep drugs out. They want to reduce crime.”
Finding a solution
“I would say that the most important thing that we could do is end the ability for someone to claim asylum except in the ports of entry so that the borders remain better able to be monitored and controlled by our Border Patrol agents,” he said. “And, from a humanitarian point of view, make certain that it’s not Border Patrol agents who are doing the amnesty, the questioning and the housing and care for those who are claiming amnesty.”
He says claiming amnesty has become too easy.
“Too many people can come, just say the magic words, and then that puts them in a long-term legal circumstance, here in the United States, in which mostly they are transported or make their way to the middle of the country, make their way to New York and Chicago, and then most likely never heard from again,” Moran said.
He hopes that he and the other senators on the border tour will be able to get something accomplished when they get back to Washington. He said it will have to be bipartisan since it will require 60 votes in the Senate.
“Immigration issues are so controversial that it can’t be accomplished without working together, and that needs to be the circumstance we find ourselves in,” Moran said.
He said Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an independent, have already started a framework for border legislation. They were two of the senators on the trip.
“The question becomes, ‘What kind of legislation could get 60 votes in the Senate and pass the House of Representatives and be signed by the president?'” Moran said.
He said the legislation will have to deal with the nature of border security, maintaining, improving and extending the fence, more Border Patrol agents, and technology to detect and apprehend those who are crossing the border illegally.
“It needs to be a number of things. The question is, ‘Where can we find the necessary votes to pass that kind of legislation?’ None of it can happen, in my view, without a strong border security component that’s in the legislation,” Moran said.