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Rep. Young Kim at the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas.

Originally Published in the Orange County Register on May 20, 2022

While the need to secure our border is not new, border security is more important than ever.

I’ve visited our border in California and twice in South Texas since I was sworn into Congress, and the crisis continues to get worse.

According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. drug overdoses are deadlier than ever, hitting the highest level on record in 2021. Fentanyl overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18-45 and the southern border is the dominant source of fentanyl trafficking into the U.S.

Additionally, April 2022 was the 14th straight month of over 150,000 migrant encounters. We saw over 234,000 crossings in April alone – the highest number recorded in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) history. In March 2022, during a border visit to Del Rio, Texas, border patrol told me that in the Del Rio Sector alone, over $24 million in revenue is generated every single week from illicit human trafficking.

As a border state, California is seeing the impacts of this crisis firsthand. We have seen an increase of fentanyl in Orange County communities and across Southern California. According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, in just the first two months of 2022 they seized 205.5 pounds of suspected fentanyl and 143,127 pills suspected to contain some level of fentanyl.

Unfortunately, the Biden administration’s policies are contributing to this border crisis and hurting U.S. communities, straining our frontline resources, undermining legal immigration and endangering migrants making the dangerous journey here –all while empowering cartel organizations profiting from drug and human smuggling.

In President Biden’s first 100 days in office, he took more than 94 executive actions on immigration, including halting construction of the border wall and ending successful policies like Title 42 and Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, that ensured migrants stay in Mexico as their asylum claims are processed.

While attempts to end Title 42 have been blocked by judges, the administration is doubling down to officially end Title 42 next week on May 23 without a suitable replacement plan to help our border patrol prevent overcrowding of detention facilities.

Securing our border, fixing our immigration system and promoting the public health and safety of our communities should be nonpartisan issues. It’s past time to stop playing politics with border security so we can work on solutions. That is why I am proud to partner with House Homeland Security Committee Vice Ranking Member Rep. Michael Guest to introduce the Comprehensive Southern Border Strategy Act.

The Comprehensive Southern Border Strategy Act would direct the Homeland Security Secretary to establish a comprehensive strategy for our U.S.-Mexico border within 12 months of the bill becoming law.

The strategy will include an overview of current security risks at the border, a review of DHS’s tools to combat drug trafficking, with a focus on fentanyl and related illicit substances, accounts of which type of physical barrier, technology or device DHS thinks is necessary to gain operational control for each mile of our border and why, a cost analysis for each mile given which type of security device is used, and justifications for these costs.

Federal law requires the Department of Homeland Security to create and implement a strategy to secure our Northern border, but no such law exists for our Southern border. This bill will change that, and I am pleased to have OC Sheriff Don Barnes’ support on this effort.

As long as this crisis persists, our communities suffer. I hope the Biden administration decides to take the border crisis seriously and work on solutions. A Southern border strategy is the least they can do to start the process.

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