Portman Statement on February 2021 CBP Operational Data Showing Surge of Unaccompanied Children

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, issued the following statement after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released operational statistics for February 2021 regarding the crisis at our southern border and the massive influx of unaccompanied children making the dangerous journey to our border: 

“Alarmingly, more than 9,500 unaccompanied children came to our southern border during February. This is a 62 percent increase from last month. The Biden administration’s border crisis of unaccompanied children being detained at overcrowded Border Patrol stations is a direct result of their undoing the previous administration’s policies with no consideration of the ramifications of removing those policies and how it would incentivize migration. I hope the administration will change course soon and put in place smart policies that address the need for legal and orderly processes for migration, while also securing our borders and protecting the American people, especially during this unprecedented pandemic. 

“At the same time, the amount of fentanyl seized at our border by CBP has tripled in the last four months compared to the same period last year. This is occurring at a time when drug overdose deaths in America are sharply rising due to the social and economic impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We must ensure that these lethal substances do not make it into our communities. 

“I am also very concerned that CBP reported more than 100,000 total encounters at the border in February, up 28 percent from January and more than double the February 2020 numbers. We are still early in the year and not yet in the peak season for migrant travel, thus these numbers are troubling given we are likely to see continued increases in unlawful immigrants and deadly narcotics at our border. I urge the Biden administration to step up efforts to collaborate with international partners – including the Governments in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador – to address this challenge, discourage migration, and provide alternatives for those seeking to make the dangerous journey north.”