As a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security I believe it is critically important to address the unsustainable humanitarian crisis unfolding at our southern border.
According to recent reports, the situation at our southern border remains critical, with apprehensions at the southern border surpassing 200,000 in the month of August alone. Along with over 1 million apprehensions nationwide, CBP agents have seized nearly 600,000 lbs. of illegal drugs—including 10,469 lbs. of fentanyl—enough to kill every person in the State of Iowa.
To put this crisis in perspective, President Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, stated that during his tenure that 1,000 apprehensions a day was considered a bad day. We are at more than six times that now and we continue to face a global pandemic.
Earlier this month, the DHS Office of the Inspector General called for the Department to improve COVID-19 detection and prevention measures at the U.S.-Mexico border amid record-setting migrant arrivals.
To quote directly from the report: “CBP does not conduct COVID-19 testing for migrants who enter CBP custody and is not required to do so.”
The report further stated that: “We recommend DHS reassess its COVID-19 response framework to identify areas for improvement to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while balancing its primary mission of securing the border.”
As a doctor and former Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, one of the largest concerns we face with this unprecedented influx of migrants is the threat of new disease transmission and COVID-19 cases, specifically new variants being brought across our borders. I have administered vaccines in all 24 counties in the Second District, I understand the importance of keeping our country healthy and we need to continue to work to combat COVID-19 and any variants that may emerge.
I have traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border twice this year. On both trips, I spoke with the brave men and women serving in Customs and Border Protection. I saw firsthand the health and humanitarian crisis at our southern border processing facilities. As a member of Congress, I believe it is our responsibility to address this crisis both for the safety of migrants entering the United States, our CBP agents, and our country.