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Easing border security poses safety threat

Item: Last year was the deadliest on record for migrants crossing unlawfully into the U.S. through Arizona. The remains of 227 migrants were found on the border, according to the Arizona nonprofit Humane Borders, which maps the recoveries of bodies in the state.

Item: Projections reveal at least 1 million illegal immigrants will have been encountered by Customs and Border Protection by the end of this month. If the current apprehension trajectory continues, President Biden’s six months in office will be marked by one of the largest migration crises in U.S. history.

Item: This year, the number of detainees who tested positive for COVID-19 in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, one of the main destinations for migrants crossing the border, marked a 900 percent increase in confirmed positive cases compared to the previous 14 months. In McAllen, Texas, RGV Sector Chief Brian Hastings said more than 40 of his agents have already tested positive for COVID this fiscal year.

Item: With more than 6,000 apprehensions a day on average, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has requested data on the apprehensions of criminals, including confirmed gang members from MS-13, at the border. The failure to enact policies to address the crisis, he said, has emboldened criminals to exploit lax security measures and threatens the safety of all Americans.

Outside of conservative outlets, stories on the border crisis are being grossly under reported by mainstream media sources. The indifference and ignorance shown by Biden administration officials and Democratic lawmakers to the border crisis reeks of politics.

Last March, then President Donald Trump signed an emergency order allowing the summary expulsion of migrants at the border based on COVID-19 concerns. According to federal data, more than 380,000 people were removed this way.

The Trump administration’s border wall and near-total block which tightened in the pandemic, fundamentally ended access to asylum at the border.

Last month, under the Biden administration, there were more than 188,000 migrant border encounters, including a 25 percent increase in the number of family units. Most of these encounters are currently being turned back due to the Trump administration’s Title 42 public health protections, specifically meant to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by allowing migrants to be quickly returned to Mexico.

According to news outlets, including Axios, the Biden administration plans to end Title 42 expulsions for migrant families which liberal critics have argued is cruel and inhumane.

Many of the countries from where the migrants have traveled lag behind the U.S. in the number of COVID vaccinations.

In an interview earlier this month, Mark Morgan, former acting CBP Commissioner, explained how the border, open to people traversing through the Northern Triangle countries to get to this country, is endangering American lives.

Jeremy Slack, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Texas-El Paso and the author of “Deported to Death: How Drug Violence Is Changing Migration on the US - Mexico Border,” notes the dangers of crossing into any of the four states of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California along the 1,954-mile US-Mexico border. Migrants are confronted by extreme temperatures, isolated wilderness, and the swirling waters of the Rio Grande.

Douglas Ruopp, chair of the nonprofit which maps migrant deaths and stashes emergency water supplies in the desert, knows how deadly the trek can be. At least 7,000 migrants are believed to have died along the US-Mexico border since 1998.

Ruopp says that most people making the trek were told it was to be a short trip and therefore don’t come equipped with real shoes or carry enough water for a journey. He reported encountering many migrants who were lost or “delirious” - “walking in a circle” or unknowingly “heading south back toward Mexico.”

Florida Sen. Ted Cruz Cruz feels Title 42 has been an integral and extremely successful measure to protect America’s borders and its citizens from the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that if the Biden-Harris policy for open borders is intended to reverse the Trump Administration’s success in securing our border, encourage illegal immigration, and create an unprecedented crisis, it’s certainly working.

Last week Cruz, along with several other prominent GOP senators, introduced the “Securing the Homeland from International Entrants with Life-threatening Diseases,” or SHIELD Act. The bill would extend the Title 42 public health protections, allowing authorities to turn away migrants in the interest of public health due to the potential spread of COVID-19.

“As we come out of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we need to continue securing our borders, not throwing open flood gates to people who could carry the deadly virus or its dangerous new variants,” Cruz stated.

Whether its migrant families having to survive a deadly desert trek, overworked border agents having to deal with potential MS-13 gang members or would-be global terrorists sneaking across the border, or untested migrants carrying the COVID virus, the southern border crisis has reached an ignition point and requires swiftly, decisive action from this heretofore derelict administration.

By JIM ZBICK | tneditor@tnonline.com

The foregoing opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Board or Times News LLC.