Military veterans say the border is like a ‘war zone’

A Marine who was in Afghanistan when that country fell to the Taliban and now lives in Texas told lawmakers he had seen more migrant bodies at the US-Mexico border than he had seen during his military service.

Senator Joni Ernst, who herself spent time in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, met the man on a trip to the border late last week and told his story to The Washington Times, saying that she had just compared the border to a “war zone”. ‘, then spoke to the Marine who made the same comparison.

“He said, ‘I feel like I’m in Afghanistan again.’ He said, “I saw more corpses here” than in Afghanistan. He said, ‘Replace the Taliban with the cartel,’ because they’re basically the same type of organization: they control all the territory there, they control who comes in, who comes out, Ernst said.

The Iowa Republican was part of a delegation of senators who traveled to the border to get a first-hand look at the ongoing chaos under the Biden administration.

Their trip coincided with Homeland Security’s release of Borders figures from June, which showed more than 207,000 people had been stopped by Customs and Border Protection officers and agents.

That’s down from May, which the Biden administration touted as a sign of improvement.


SEE ALSO: Six terror suspects arrested at southern border in June


“While month-to-month fluctuations are normal, we saw a 14% decrease in encounters from the previous month,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said in announcing the new data.

Digging into the numbers, there were some disturbing trends.

While the number of migrants traveling as family units – at least one parent and one minor child – has fallen, the number of illegal immigrant children traveling unaccompanied has risen to more than 15,000.

And Border Patrol reports catching 56 people during that exercise whose names were in the terrorism tracking database. In May, that figure was 50, meaning six new suspects were arrested in June alone.

This is shaping up to be the worst year on record for terrorist activity on the southern border. In 2021, only 15 terrorism suspects were arrested by Border Patrol, and prior to that, officers tallied just 11 combined arrests from 2017 to 2020.

CBP did not provide an explanation for the push.


SEE ALSO: Notorious cartel boss captured in Mexico; awaits extradition to the United States


Analysts say the record number of border crossings captured is likely a troubling indicator that even larger numbers are crossing, including terror suspects.

Of the 207,416 migrants who were captured in June, only 92,273 were returned to Mexico under the Title 42 pandemic health emergency policy. About 72,000 others were processed and released directly at the border, while most of the others were to be released after being transferred to another federal interior agency.

The fact that most of the candidates are successful in achieving their goal – to be released – further encourages them to make the trip, Ms Ernst said.

She said Border Patrol agents and others she spoke to at the Texas border said the key was to keep them in custody until their case was heard. If they have valid claims, then they can be released, but if they lose their case, then they can be deported.

“People will stop paying $10,000 to come to the border,” she said.

His delegation met two groups of people arrested at the border.

One, made up mostly of women and children, said they paid $8,000 each to make the trip.

Among this group were two girls, aged 6 and 7, who were traveling without their parents. Each of the girls had a white plastic shopping bag with a zipper bag inside with their information, Ms Ernst said.

One had a birth certificate and a note with her upstate New York grandmother’s name, phone number and address written down, knowing that the US government would deliver the child to this address, completing the smuggling trip for cartels and relatives who paid them.

Earlier this month, a United Nations organization called the US-Mexico border the deadliest international border in the world, and Ms Ernst said the proof was all around her.

A landowner showed the Senate delegation a photo of a bulletin board of bodies they found on their property, and the senator said an image is seared into her memory: a migrant who had died dehydration, his body leaning against a tree at rest – but his eyes had been gouged out by birds, leaving the sockets sunken.

“It was just awful,” she said. “The things you encounter – It’s like this Marine is saying, he saw horrible things in Afghanistan, but he said it was nothing like that.”

Ms Ernst was making her second trip to the border as a senator, following one during the Trump years.

She said the cartels had developed new tactics over the years, including using drones to better monitor what Border Patrol units were doing.

The cartels know where the units are and where to send their high-value cargo like drugs to evade detection.

She also said agents told her the smuggling cartels, which control both drug and human trafficking across the border, seemed to have cooled their years-long turf battles.

The explanation she heard is that there is so much money being made on the record level of migrants that the cartels don’t want to rock the boat.

“There’s just an abundance of money pouring into their coffers because it’s so easy to get people into the United States,” the senator said.

The Washington Times database of smuggling cases shows Texas payments made for border crossings this month ranged from a few thousand dollars to $11,000 for Mexicans and up to $14,000 for Central Americans .

Ms Ernst said people on the ground told her the solutions involved reinstating some Trump policies that were blocking capture and release.

She also urged passage of legislation she drafted that would transfer border wall materials to states.

Texas and Arizona have both announced plans to build a wall on their side of the border, and Ms. Ernst’s bill would allow them to tap into steel stocks that federal taxpayers have already purchased, but that President Biden allowed to rust to fulfill his campaign vow not to build “another foot” of President Trump’s wall.

It’s not just the southern border that’s on the rise.

Under Presidents George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump, the northern border would routinely go entire years without fewer than 10,000 illegal immigrants encountered at the Canadian border, CBP recorded 10,900 encounters with unauthorized northern cross-borders in June, breaking previous records.

In June, nine months into the exercise, CBP said it caught 67,896 people at the northern border.

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