By Leonard Lance Our country is facing a national security and humanitarian crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimates that more than 52,000 unaccompanied youth have illegally crossed the border — almost double last year’s total. A majority of these young people may experience violence, sexual abuse or other forms of exploitation at the hands of unscrupulous drug cartels, human traffickers and smugglers.
U.S. Border Patrol agents and personnel are being overwhelmed by this unprecedented influx of unaccompanied immigrant children, teenagers and families instead of focusing on their first priority to secure our southern border. Immediate action is needed.
First, I respectfully request the immediate deployment of the National Guard to our southern border. The men and women of our National Guard are uniquely qualified to respond to such humanitarian crises. They will be able to protect and process these undocumented immigrants while allowing border patrol personnel to focus on their primary duty: securing our borders from drug smugglers, human traffickers and terrorists.
Second, I ask that you immediately deploy immigration judges, consular officials and other administrative resources to expedite hearings and deportations of undocumented immigrants. A quick and expeditious hearing process could be the best and most effective deterrence to Central American families who are contemplating sending their children to enter the U.S. illegally.
And finally, I respectfully request that you demand the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to do more in finding solutions to this growing humanitarian crisis and deter children and their families from seeking refuge in the United States.
Mr. President, it is the federal government’s responsibility to protect our borders. I respectfully ask that you take the above actions immediately to address this problem and work with Congress to develop a long-term strategy to secure our borders and enforce our current immigration laws.
Member of Congress
Seventh District, New Jersey