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Blunt: “We clearly need to secure our borders”

Today, Missouri U.S. Senator Roy Blunt spoke on the Senate floor to reaffirm his support for stronger border security along the southern border. Blunt cited several statistics demonstrating the effectiveness of physical barriers, which members of both parties have previously supported, at the border. In his remarks, Blunt also noted that strengthening border security would pave the way toward addressing other major immigration issues.

Read some of the speech below:

“At the core of debate we’re having right now, it is obviously border security, everybody says they are for border security, but have a different view of what that means. I want to start by saying I fully support the president’s call for a more secure border, and frankly I think physical barriers are part of that. We have thought that for a long time. They work, people who now are opposed to them have generally often been for them. In fact, a generation ago, we began improving and expanding barriers in a few areas along the southern border, and in every instance, they have made a difference. In 1992, the U.S. government built a wall in the San Diego sector of the border… The number of people caught crossing that barrier, that border decreased by 95 percent when the barrier was erected… So we’ve got a 90 percent solution or a 95 percent solution, that’s reasonable to the American people who think that the job of the federal government, and they are right in this, one of the jobs of the federal government is to secure its border. …

“I have been to the border a number of times. I have walked along the barriers there. I have been on one side of the fence, two sides of a fence with a patrolled roadway in between, looked pretty effective to me and the numbers indicate it was effective. So, when we in 2005 added a wall in the Yuma part of the Arizona sector, apprehensions went down another 95 percent. So we’ve got President Clinton, President Bush – Bush 43, Bush 41, all were part of thinking barriers worked and the Congress was, too. This was not an issue as to whether or not a wall works where a wall works until President Trump, as a candidate, began to talk about building a wall. They make a big difference in the areas where we have tried them in the past.

“In November, there were nearly 52,000 people that were caught trying to sneak across the border. Now, you can act like that’s not a very big problem unless you have ever lived in a community of say, 52,000 people, and then you realize that’s a lot of people and in one month alone, they were coming across the southwest border. According to the Department of Homeland Security, nearly 17,000 criminals were apprehended trying to get into the country last year. That’s about half of the population of the capital city of Missouri, 17,000 people trying to get in with a criminal record just last year. We have seen a 50 percent increase in gang members being caught trying to come into the country illegally, and a 73 percent increase in the seizures of Fentanyl. One of the things we do in the Labor-Health and Human Services area that I work in and appropriate for and work for opioid response, is try to figure how we can get Fentanyl out of this system. How can we get something out of the system that is deadly for a significant number of the people that turn to that as they get addicted to pain killers? Well, if … Fentanyl seizures, if they are up 73 percent over where they were the year before, something needs to be done. We clearly need to secure our borders.

“Now, I support the immigration system. I am a proponent of legal immigration. I think how we meet the work force needs of the country, how we deal with the fact that we have people who are here who aren’t legally, who have otherwise not gotten in trouble in the country… How do we deal with this in a way that we meet our work force needs, that the skill needs of the country are met? And skill needs can be unskilled people that we don’t have people willing to do some unskilled jobs and highly skilled people that we don’t have enough people doing their jobs in an economy that’s growing faster than the economy has grown in a long time. The economic numbers in some cases are better than they have been in 50 years, and in most cases are better than they have been in at least a decade.

“Now, you know every part of the border doesn’t need to be secured in the same way. But the border needs to be secure. Our friends on the other side, in what has been a pretty impressive show of party unity, have just decided that they want to reject the options of how we secure the border. People who have voted to build and maintain almost 700 miles of border fencing have suddenly decided that another 50 miles or another two miles is immoral. Now, talk about selective immorality, that it’s okay to have 700 miles of fence, but it’s not okay to have 702 miles of fence. A very interesting place, it seems to me, to draw the line. Our friends on the other side have rejected attempts to fix the way we deal with children who are brought across the border, or come across on their own… We’ve got 50,000 children who came across the border and no response to any ideas that the administration brings up, no positive response from the other side as to how to deal with that. They have rejected adding beds at detention centers for people who are caught crossing the border illegally. Why would you do that? Why would you not want to have additional space for people who are in custody for illegal behavior? …

“We are going to have a lot better opportunity to solve the problems we need to solve in regarding the border if people have confidence that the government has done a reasonable job of securing that border. I don’t think anybody expects the border in a big country like ours to be so impenetrable that nobody could ever get in under any circumstances. I think they do expect, when you’ve found the 90 or 95 percent solution that it appeared up until now to be affordable and widely supported, when you’ve found the 90 percent solution, people do expect that at the very least you’d apply the 90 percent standard to the responsibility of the government to secure its borders.

“So, whether it’s trying to figure out what we need in our workforce to have a continued growing and vibrant economy, or trying to figure out what do we do about people who came here and decided to stay, whether they came here across the border or in some other way, but stayed beyond the time they were supposed to be here or got here without going through the normal process, those are going to be much easier to come to a conclusion on if people know that the government has done its job to get the border under an acceptable and anticipated level of security from what we would expect to have from a country as strong and vibrant as ours. …

“This is obviously a place where we need to come together. Not only does the government need to function, but this is just an issue we need to solve. And I guarantee you this issue, all of these related issues, will be more easily solved if we secure the border, and no president has ever had the credibility that this president will have if he says to the American people, I have met my commitment, the border is secure. …”

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