Senator Carper: Congress Should Look for Consensus and Common-Ground on Border Security Solutions

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs,  underscored the progress, remaining challenges, and possible solutions when it comes to securing our U.S. southern border during the committee hearing, “Securing the Southwest Border: Perspectives from Beyond the Beltway.”

“In recent years, I have made several trips to our southern and northern borders. Each time I return to Washington impressed by the dedication of our border security personnel and by the security and technological advances we have made,” Sen. Carper said. “Over the past decade, the U.S. has invested a quarter of a trillion dollars to enhance security along our borders – and it shows. Overall apprehensions of undocumented migrants are at 40 year lows. Crime rates in many – not all – communities near the border have dropped dramatically. But we have plenty more work to do.

“Today’s hearing underscored the challenges that still remain along the southern border,” Sen. Carper continued. “Time and time again, I’ve heard ‘technology is the key to securing the border’ from local law enforcement and agents stationed along our borders. We must continue to make smart investments in innovative technologies that can serve as force multiplier for our forces. We must also address the underlying causes – the lack of hope, economic opportunity, and security – in many nations that drive thousands of undocumented migrants to take the dangerous trek to the United States to our border in the first place. That being said, we cannot wait until we have achieved some elusive, perfect measure of border security to fix our broken immigration system. While we don’t agree on everything, I think today’s hearing showed that those of us in Congress, the Administration, and stakeholders can find consensus and common-ground on how to address our nation’s border security and immigration challenges. It’s time for my colleagues and I to work together on a comprehensive and thoughtful 21st century immigration policy – a policy that is fair, that will significantly reduce the nation’s budget deficit, and that will strengthen the economic recovery now underway. We’ve done it before; it’s time we show Americans beyond the beltway that we can do it again.”

Earlier this year, Sen. Carper travelled with Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) on a trip to southern Texas and saw firsthand the progress made and the challenges that lie ahead in securing our nation’s southern border. Many of the witnesses from today’s hearing were the same local ranchers, sheriffs, and officials the Senators met on their recent trip. One witness, Monica Weisberg-Stewart, who is the chairwoman of the Texas Border Coalition’s (TBC) Border Security and Immigration Committee and a businesswoman in McAllen, Texas, shared her experiences living, working and conducting business in the Texas-Mexico border region.

“Last year, U.S. taxpayers spent $3.6 billion on Border Patrol for the area between the ports – more than triple the agency’s entire budget in 2000. That effort, combined with better interior enforcement and an improving Mexican economy, has contributed to an 80 percent reduction in apprehensions of undocumented border crossers since 2000,” Ms. Weisberg-Stewart testified. “I have great admiration for the men and women of the Border Patrol, or as I refer to them as ‘the men and women in green,’ and I applaud them and say, ‘good work.’”

The National Immigration Forum submitted a statement for the record to the hearing that emphasized the importance of a comprehensive approach to immigration reform and border security. In its statement, the Forum concluded that, “We cannot simply spend or enforce our way to a solution on illegal immigration. Border security, while important, is only part of the picture. Immigration reforms that promote legal immigration and smartly enforce immigration laws can improve the security at the border, drying up the customers for criminal enterprises that prey on migrants, and letting our border agencies focus on more dangerous threats such as terrorists, drugs, weapons and money.”

In 2014, as former chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Sen. Carper held a series of hearings that focused on the challenges at the border: Examine the Causes, Consequences, and Responses to the Rise in Apprehensions at the Southern Border and Examine and Address the Root Causes Behind the Rise in Apprehensions at the Southern Border.

For more information or to watch today’s hearing, please visit: “Securing the Southwest Border: Perspectives from Beyond the Beltway.”