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The American Dream and the various cultures we have here are a huge part of what makes this country great. We are a nation of people whose families were at all one point or another immigrants looking to come to the United States for a better life and opportunities. We are a mixing bowl of cultures from all over the world who have come together to create one great country and pursue the best lives possible for our families and generations to come. That still rings true today, and we still have a robust legal immigration process. Unfortunately, illegal immigration and weak policies are threatening our southern border and our country like never before.

This February, in just one month, there were more than 100,000 migrant encounters, a seven-year high and a 173 percent increase from this same time last year. The Department of Health and Human Services is reporting they are taking in 321 migrant children a day. And if you can believe it, the Biden Administration is spending $86 million in taxpayer funds on a contract for hotel rooms at the border to house 1,200 migrants.

Border security is not easy, and it's not a new problem. For decades, we have been battling human traffickers and drug smugglers at our southern border. While President Trump drastically reduced illegal crossings and made great progress with getting Mexico and other Central American countries to play a role in border security, no president has completely solved the problem. However, this is the first administration that not only refuses to acknowledge we have a problem, but their policies are encouraging it. President Biden has signed several executive orders in the "most sweeping immigration overhaul in a generation" to overturn the Trump Administration's policies that have been securing our borders and keeping our nation safe. His first order of business was to completely halt border wall construction, despite the overwhelming evidence that walls work and the success we saw with it at our southern border. The administration has reimplemented the Obama-era "catch and release" policy that allows unvetted, potentially dangerous migrants to live freely in our communities while they wait for an immigration hearing that can take weeks or months to occur. It has been made clear to the world that the keystone of this immigration policy is an open border, inviting a surge of illegal immigrants to America.

Unfortunately, we are already seeing the effects of the lack of action at our border. America is experiencing a spike in overdose deaths due to a major increase in illicit fentanyl coming across our border, with border smugglers making as much as $14 million in profits a day in February. Fentanyl is extremely dangerous, with just a 3-milligram dose being enough to kill the average-sized adult male. In the first two months of 2021, CBP has seized 1,337 more pounds of fentanyl compared to the first two months of 2020. To combat the spread of fentanyl, I have introduced a bill that will create a long-term solution for scheduling this lethal substance to help keep it from flowing into our communities. Equally as concerning is the massive COVID-19 threat border states are facing. While many government officials still believe businesses should not be allowed to operate or workers allowed to earn a paycheck, hundreds of thousands of potentially infected migrants are entering our country without consequence.

In what could be considered the only admission of mismanagement, the Biden Administration has actually instructed the CBP to cut off communication with the media. They've gone as far as not allowing reporters to visit border facilities. Instead of making the tough decisions, the plan seems to be to keep the American people in the dark and hope the problem fixes itself. That of course will not happen. It's time that the safety of Americans takes priority over fairytale beliefs that an open border is good for anyone.

U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., shares his perspective each week on national issues, including ones that affect Missouri. He represents the state's 3rd District, which includes Jefferson City. His local office can be reached at 573-635-7232.

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