Congressional Record Vol. 169, No. 16
(Senate - January 25, 2023) PDF

  Mrs. HYDE-SMITH. Madam President, I started the new year by joining 
Senator Blackburn of Tennessee and our new colleague Senator Britt of 
Alabama on a recent tour of the Del Rio Border Sector in Texas.

  We traveled to the border to gain more firsthand knowledge of the 
ongoing mass migration of illegal immigrants into our Nation, to hear 
from Border Patrol agents about how they are handling this crisis, and 
to, perhaps more powerfully, hear from young women and girls who are 
victims of President Biden's careless border and immigration policies.

  We learned more how States are taking action to protect their 
citizens and their borders when the administration won't. Few States 
are affected more than Texas, which instituted Operation Lone Star in 
March of 2021 to counter illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

  We looked on as a family led by a coyote crossed the Rio Grande in 
dangerously cold waters and witnessed the family's struggle to help 
their grandmother wade through rushing waters to enter our Nation 
illegally. She made it safely across, but, sadly, that is not always 
the case for many people, including children who have drowned making 
the same trek under the misguided belief that our borders are open.

  We visited a massive migrant processing center where illegal 
immigrants were taken upon arrival. An astonishing fact about this 
processing center is that it costs U.S. taxpayers $16 million a month 
to operate, and that is just one of five on the southern border. Let me 
say that again. It is costing American taxpayers $16 million per month 
to process illegal immigrants at just one of these five centers.

  What was especially gut-wrenching to me was hearing directly from 
human trafficking victims. We heard from one young lady who was 
trafficked from the age of 12 to the age of 16. She told a story I will 
never forget, and there are thousands of stories just like hers.

  Yes, we learned about the true severity of the crisis. We learned how 
Border Patrol agents simply cannot carry out their jobs. We learned how 
States are forced to use up resources on border security and migrants--
resources meant for U.S. citizens. We learned how ranchers and U.S. 
property owners are being overwhelmed and in constant fear of being 
robbed and assaulted by smugglers. We learned how all of this affects 
our entire Nation--not just the unbelievable price tag, but in the 
incidences of human trafficking across the country and tens of 
thousands of overdose deaths linked to fentanyl smuggled across our 

  And, heartbreakingly, we learned of the wickedness of the cartels. 
They are thriving, thanks to President Biden's apathetic attitude 
toward his own country's border.

  This should not be a political debate. People and children are dying 
in an attempt to enter our country illegally. Drug cartels are taking 
control of not just the border towns on the Mexican side of the border 
but on the American side too. Human trafficking is now a $13 billion 

  How did we get here? Why do they come? Well, because our President 
basically invited them. Immediately after President Biden was sworn in, 
he started dismantling vital policies like ``Remain in Mexico'' and 
restarted catch-and-release, halted construction on the border, and, 
essentially, set up a big neon sign on the southwest border that read 

  The rest is history: 4.5 million border apprehensions with an 
estimated 1.5 million undetected got-aways, a staggering increase in 
the number of women and children who are being subject to assault and 
domestic violence, fentanyl flowing into our communities and 
skyrocketing deaths.

  I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to go and listen 
to Border Patrol agents. Hear the stories of the cartel victims. See 
for yourself the heartbreaking scenarios the greatest country in the 
world is allowing to unfold.

  I learned much from my visit to the border, but perhaps the worst 
thing I learned is this: The Biden administration is not lacking any 
resources or authority to address this crisis. No, it can support our 
Border Patrol and border States. It can secure our border. It can save 
children from dying and drowning in the Rio Grande or 14-year-old girls 
from being sold. But it won't, either through incompetence or, worse, 
by design.

  I yield the floor.