CINCINNATI, OH – 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 March 2021 regarding the crisis at our southern border and the massive influx of unlawful migrants and unaccompanied children making the dangerous journey to our border:
“I am very concerned that CBP reported more than 172,000 total encounters at the border in March, up 70 percent from February and more than five times the March 2020 numbers. This includes more than 53,000 migrant family members, a more than 1000 percent increase from March 2020; nearly 100,000 single adult migrants, an increase of 275 percent versus last year; and nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children, double the amount that crossed our border in February and a nearly 500 percent increase from March 2020.
“I am also deeply troubled by media reports that the Biden administration is removing critical protections for unaccompanied children in an effort to expedite processing and place them with sponsors, as well as reports of sexual abuse of those children at holding facilities. Since 2015, my bipartisan oversight has shown, over two administrations, that federal agencies must do a better job of ensuring the safety and security of these vulnerable children. The U.S. federal government should not repeat the mistakes of prior administrations and hand these vulnerable children off to traffickers or other abusive situations, and there must be accountability to ensure the government can keep track of the children as they make their way through the legal system.
“While at the southern border, I heard directly from Border Patrol agents about how the current surge of unlawful migrants is straining resources, endangering not just the vulnerable unaccompanied children, but the security of our own border at a time when traffickers are using the migrants as a distraction to push drugs across the border – leading to a 648 percent increase in fentanyl seizures. The Biden administration’s border crisis of unlawful migrants being detained at overcrowded Border Patrol stations is a direct result of its decision to dismantle the previous administration’s policies with no consideration of the ramifications of removing those policies and how it would incentivize migration. This situation is unsustainable. I continue to urge the Biden administration to put policies in place to discourage unlawful immigration that adheres to our common American values of humanity, decency, and the rule of law.”