U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday about the imminent need to address the growing security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border. Thune noted that any national security supplemental appropriations legislation must include a border security package – including asylum and parole reforms – in order to reverse some of President Biden’s failed policies that have fueled the crisis at the southern border.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, once again, the Biden administration has set another record when it comes to the border – and not the good kind.
“During the month of October, 240,988 individuals were apprehended attempting to illegally cross our southern border.
“That is the highest October number ever recorded.
“And those are just the individuals who were actually apprehended.
“The month of October saw an average of 1,000 gotaways per day – individuals the Border Patrol saw but was unable to apprehend.
“That’s 30,000 unidentified individuals entering our country in just one month.
“And there’s no telling how many unknown gotaways there were during that same period.
“Mr. President, the situation at our southern border is out of control.
“The closing of the fiscal year in September marked the third successive record-breaking year of illegal immigration at our southern border under the Biden administration.
“And as the October numbers demonstrate, the end of this crisis is nowhere in sight.
“The problems here are too many to count.
“The men and women of the Border Patrol are under incredible strain – and have been for pretty much the entirety of the Biden administration.
“Border cities are struggling to deal with the ceaseless influx of migrants – and major cities in other areas of the country are now discovering what border cities have been going through.
“The situation is encouraging migrants to undertake the dangerous journey to our southern border – with sometimes tragic results.
“And, Mr. President, our national security is in jeopardy.
“Because a border security problem is a national security problem.
“This isn’t a matter of speculation.
“We know for a fact that dangerous individuals are attempting to make their way across our southern border.
“During fiscal year 2023, 169 individuals on the terrorist watchlist were apprehended attempting to illegally cross our southern border.
“And thousands of so-called ‘special interest aliens’ – individuals who may pose a threat to the United States – have been apprehended at our southern border over the past two years.
“And, again, the numbers we have refer only to those who have been apprehended.
“As I said, last month alone 30,000 unidentified individuals made their way illegally into our country.
“Many of them may simply have been seeking a better life.
“But it is not only possible but likely that some of them were dangerous individuals who should not be entering our country.
“Mr. President, this work period we expect to take up supplemental spending legislation to address national security priorities – notably support for our allies like Israel and Ukraine.
“And one national security priority that this legislation must address is border security.
“As the October 7 terrorist attack on Israel reminds us, national security requires constant vigilance.
“And our nation is simply not secure as long as we’re dealing with a massive flow of illegal immigration at our southern border.
“We must get this crisis under control.
“Senators Graham, Lankford, and Cotton have been working to craft a set of border security measures for inclusion in the national security supplemental, focused on the two areas in obvious need of reform: parole and asylum.
“Under our current asylum system, a large percentage of individuals claiming asylum are released into the interior of our country after initial screening, with court dates up to a decade later.
“The Associated Press reported that in March, 77 percent of individuals claiming asylum passed the initial screening.
“In practice, this means that thousands of individuals who have entered our country illegally end up taking up residence in our country – possibly for a number of years, given our immigration court backlog.
“That’s a problem.
“And our parole system is in trouble as well.
“In fiscal year 2022, the Biden administration granted parole to 417,326 individuals.
“That’s because the Biden Department of Homeland Security has instituted an overly permissive application of parole – which means that, again, tens of thousands of individuals who have not been granted legal status and who may not have a case for remaining in the United States have been taking up residence in our country, with instructions to report back a year or more into the future for further review of their status.
“Given the backlog and overwhelmed nature of our parole system, this ends up being de facto permanent residence.
“Needless to say, this invites abuse.
“And individuals are availing themselves of these flawed policies to gain entry to our nation.
“And any supplemental legislation must not only deal with border security generally but with our asylum and parole systems specifically if we want to get the crisis at our southern border under control.
“Mr. President, our porous southern border is a massive national security vulnerability.
“Republicans know it, and while they may not always admit it, I think my Democrat colleagues know it as well.
“It’s time for them to act on that knowledge and join Republicans to pass real border security measures as part of the national security supplemental.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”