What I learned during my visit to the U.S.-Mexico border | Rep. Jason Shoaf

Joe Biden last week announced new executive orders to address the immigration crisis at our nation’s southern border, but unfortunately his actions are far too little and way too late. The announcement is a desperate move by a president whose approval rating is under water and a reelection campaign that has slim chances this November.

While Biden’s executive orders are more smoke and mirrors, the crisis at America’s southern border is very real.

Rep. Jason Shoaf at the southern border.
Rep. Jason Shoaf at the southern border.

I’ve seen it with my own eyes. A few weeks ago, I joined a handful of other state legislators from across the nation to tour the U.S. Mexico border in Texas. I saw violence, crime and drugs flowing through the border at a rapid pace. The illegal immigrants are overwhelming the system, threatening our families, and spreading lethal substances throughout our communities.

I believe that ensuring the safety of our communities is one of the most important roles of government. That requires the federal government to secure our borders and enforce the law. But the Biden administration has done just the opposite.

During my time at the border, I felt as though I was transported to a third world country and witnessing a horror scene. We visited Eagle Pass, one of the busiest border points, where last year as many as 4,000 unauthorized encounters were recorded daily.

We took a helicopter tour over the Rio Grande and witnessed families trekking through waist deep water to reach American soil. Our guides showed us how the cartel monitors our defense systems and identifies the weaknesses where they can slip harmful drugs through to their network of criminals across the nation.

It was heartbreaking to think of my own family pursuing this difficult journey to find freedom and build a better life. But the reality is a large portion of the migrants coming through do not have pure intentions. Last year, border patrol arrested more than 35,000 of them who had criminal convictions or outstanding warrants nationwide. Hundreds of them were members of gangs.

Themigrants crossing the border are not just from Mexico and Latin America. But other continents, too. Data shows that 24,000 Chinese nationals were apprehended at the border last year. So far this year, more than 22,000 Chinese nationals crossed over.

And the drugs. Last year, our border patrol seized more than 27,000 pounds of fentanyl coming across the Southern border. That’s enough to kill 6 billion people. Federal officials estimate they are only able to seize 5% to 10% of illegal drugs smuggled across the border.

The failure to secure our borders is putting our families in danger. It is contributing to a deadly drug epidemic. And I can’t even fathom the risks to our national security with buses full of military-style Chinese nationals entering through the border and fanning out across the nation.

Our state is doing its part. Florida has invested significant resources to send Florida Highway Patrol troops, Florida State Guard troops and Florida Fish & Wildlife officers to be stationed at the border. They are working with our allies in Texas to keep our communities safe and stop the flow of fentanyl into our country. During my visit, I thanked them all for their commitment and sacrifice to this effort. But this job should not have to fall on states like ours.

It is a serious national crisis, and it requires a real federal solution. If President Biden is not capable and willing to manage it, it’s time we have a president and Congress who can and will.

Rep. Jason Shoaf listens to remarks presented by Speaker Paul Renner during the opening day of the 2024 Legislative Session on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024.
Rep. Jason Shoaf listens to remarks presented by Speaker Paul Renner during the opening day of the 2024 Legislative Session on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024.

Jason Shoaf is a Republican member of the House of Representatives. He serves in House District 7, which includes Dixie, Franklin, Gulf, Hamilton, Lafayette, Liberty, Suwannee, Taylor, Wakulla and parts of Jefferson, Leon counties.


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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Jason Shoaf: What I learned during my visit to the U.S.-Mexico border