Senator David Perdue: Border Patrol Agents Are Overwhelmed

84,000 Family Units & 11,000 Unaccompanied Children Apprehended At Border Last Month

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) spoke on the Senate floor about the urgent need for additional resources to address the humanitarian crisis at the border. Earlier this year, Senator Perdue visited the southern border to meet with border patrol agents and see the crisis firsthand.

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Unprecedented Numbers: “The amount of human traffic we’re seeing at the border is unprecedented. Last month, 144,000 individuals were apprehended at the southern border. This is the highest number of apprehensions in 13 years. In just the first eight months of this fiscal year, 411,000 unaccompanied children and family units were apprehended at the southern border, including 84,000 family units and 11,000 unaccompanied children just last month. If this trend continues, 800,000 children and families could be apprehended at the southern border by the end of this fiscal year.”

Exceeding Capacity: “When an unaccompanied child arrives at the border, they are cared for by border patrol agents until they can be placed in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). However, the number of children arriving today greatly exceeds HHS capacity. As of last week, 1,900 unaccompanied children were in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody awaiting placement in HHS care, but HHS had less than 700 beds in which to place them.”

Agents Are Overwhelmed: “Clearly, our border patrol agents are overwhelmed. Now, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), border patrol agents are spending more than half their time caring for families and children, providing medical assistance, driving buses, and acting as food service workers, instead of performing law enforcement duties. Pulling border patrol agents away from their law enforcement duties only exacerbates the crisis at the border.”

Emergency Funding Needed: “This week, HHS and DHS sent a letter to every Member of Congress. HHS said, ‘Absent an emergency appropriation, we anticipate running out of funding as soon as this month.’ DHS has already started pulling resources away from critical missions in order to try and keep up with the surge of human traffic.”

Not A Political Issue: “The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said, ‘We are begging. We are asking Congress to please help us.’ This should not be a political issue – this is about giving federal agents the resources they need to care for children in their custody and respond to this crisis situation. Even The New York Times Editorial Board said, ‘Congress, Give Trump His Border Money.’ The Senate will vote on this emergency funding next week, and I hope it will receive bipartisan support. It absolutely should.”

Underlying Causes: “Going forward, we have to address the underlying causes of this crisis. Often times, these kids and families are exploited by cartels on their journey to the United States. It’s truly heartbreaking what some of these people go through. These cartels profit off of the most vulnerable. They fuel the drug trade and endanger communities across our country and indeed the world. We have got to put these cartels out of business. We have got to close loopholes that encourage illegal immigration. Finally, we have got to give border patrol officers the tools they need to do their jobs and protect our nation. That means more technology, more personnel, and more barriers.”