It’s just not the one Republicans think, Rep. Adam Kinzinger tells CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, and he should know. Kinzinger went to the border himself, not as a member of Congress but as part of a National Guard deployment, where his eyes got opened to the real emergencies on the southern border. Kinzinger explains in detail why the US should be more concerned about human and drug trafficking than immigration, and why the lack of a border wall makes it nearly impossible to fight either:
GOP @RepKinzinger, who deployed to the southern border, will meet with the President today.
He says the situation "is deserving of a national emergency, not because of the immigration issue but because of the drugs and human trafficking,” he says. https://t.co/6QB85uIS1z pic.twitter.com/DQjK5egH6l
— New Day (@NewDay) March 6, 2019
Kinzinger explains that people are dying in significant numbers every year in the desert and from drug overdoses, which makes the border an emergency in his eyes. Camerota then attempts to challenge Kinzinger by claiming that 90% of drugs and human trafficking goes through ports of entry, but Kinzinger says there are two issues, and that the emergency is to deal with them both. And, Kinzinger makes clear, you can’t do that without a lot more border wall than we have now:
CAMEROTA: But just explain to us how 200 miles of a new border wall will stop the 90% of heroin and other drugs that come through the legal ports of entry on the southern border.
KINZINGER: Well, it’s two different issues. So yes, you have the port of entry issue, so if someone can get a semi through filled with drugs, that’s the way they prefer. And so everyone who opposes the active-duty deployment to the border — not to be confused with the Guard’s deployment — but the active-duty is on the border hardening these points of entry, which my friends on the other side of the aisle is the problem, so they should be supportive of that.
Secondarily, there are drugs that come over the port of entry. There’s also human trafficking — all you have to do is look at the numbers, it’s a fact. So what a border wall does is it shrinks the amount of border you have to actively monitor. So for instance in Arizona, you would have a Predator that would go over and make one radar sweep, and it would see all these different groups that would have crossed, and then they would prioritize. They only had one of our air assets, and so they would say which group do we go after first. They’d put you on that group, and we’d coordinate [with] Border Patrol, and it takes basically an entire shift to get one group because of the rugged terrain.
So what you do is you shrink the amount of the border you have to monitor, and then you can focus your resources on that. I tell you, Alisyn, I did not work one area of the border in Arizona that had a wall, because they weren’t going over it.
On top of that, illegal immigration has reached “the breaking point,” Customs and Border Protection announced yesterday. February saw a record amount of illegal border crossings, mainly families who are now seeing incentives to cross with their children:
A surge of migrants along the US-Mexico border has US Customs and Border Protection at the “breaking point,” the Trump administration said Tuesday.
More than 76,000 people were apprehended crossing illegally or without proper papers in February, the highest number of “encounters” in any February in the last 12 years, according to CBP. …
Of the 76,000, 7,250 were unaccompanied children and 40,385 were people who came with family members. …
Since October, there’s been a 300% increase in the number of families apprehended compared with the same period in fiscal year 2018, according to CBP.
Gee, I wonder why we’re seeing that increase? (Update: Worth noting — most of these are coming in at the checkpoints.) The Trump administration may have fumbled its opportunity to apply stronger disincentives for sending children across the border by not preparing for family detentions, but at least they saw the problem coming. People now know that they have a better chance for catch-and-release handling if they bring children on the dangerous trek across the border, and so we’re now getting flooded with an entirely new profile of illegal immigration that is overwhelming our resources.
That won’t be enough to keep the Senate from voting to overturn Trump’s emergency declaration. Kinzinger’s testimony will likely serve better to prevent either chamber in Congress from voting to overturn the eventual veto.