Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified before Congress yesterday about the National Emergency on our southern border. In reporting the latest statistics from U.S. border officials, she confronted the Democrats’ no. 1 immigration myth head-on. “We face a crisis—a real, serious, and sustained crisis at our borders,” she said.

The reason Democrats defend the status quo is not because they or anyone else believe that America’s broken immigration system is working. Indeed, the problem has only gotten worse since former President Obama himself called it a “humanitarian crisis” nearly five years ago.

But acknowledging such a crisis exists today would make Democrats accountable for working with President Trump to help solve it. Their leaders have already gone on the record to say they will not. Instead, they hope to keep a lid on the ugly, painful truths behind the emergency unfolding along our southern border.

It is time to set the record straight:

MYTH 1: There is no crisis at the border.

FACT: We continue to face a surge in illegal immigration that has brought the border crisis to a breaking point.

  • There has been a massive surge in illegal migrants arriving at our border, with more than 76,000 apprehended or deemed inadmissible at a port of entry last month—the most of any February during the past 12 years.
  • This fiscal year, U.S. Border Patrol has seen a 97 percent increase in apprehensions compared to the same time period last year.
  • Even before this recent surge, former President Obama called the situation at our southern border “a humanitarian crisis” as early as 2014.

MYTH 2: The problem at the border used to be much worse.

FACT: Today, we face an unprecedented number of illegal immigrants that loopholes prevent from being returned quickly to their home countries.

  • The makeup of illegal immigration has completely changed from previous years. Now, record numbers of family units and minors are arriving at our border, and legal loopholes force them to be released into the interior of the country. Human smugglers know this, and these criminal enterprises routinely exploit these loopholes to smuggle children across the border as leverage.
  • By contrast, in FY 2000, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) apprehensions were primarily single adults and, as such, 95 percent of those apprehended were repatriated within hours.
  • Apprehensions of family unit aliens and Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) have surged by 338 percent and 54 percent respectively this year.

MYTH 3: A wall wouldn’t help because drugs are coming through ports of entry.

FACT: Not only do we not know the amount of drugs smuggled between ports of entry, but building the wall will help free up more resources to seize the drugs coming in.

  • Obviously, there are more drug seizures at ports of entry that are manned by security than remote areas of the border with limited law enforcement presence. That doesn’t mean drugs aren’t coming in between ports of entry.
  • A physical barrier allows law enforcement personnel on the ground to carry out their missions more safely and effectively, preventing more deadly drugs and criminals from crossing our border in undermanned areas.

MYTH 4: Law enforcement such as ICE and U.S. Border Patrol are the villains in this story.

FACT: The real villains are the vile cartels and smugglers who exploit loopholes in our immigration laws for their own horrific gain. Law enforcement is the front line against them.

  • The brave men and women who enforce our immigration laws and secure our border are working tirelessly to keep our communities safe.
  • The cartels have devastated American communities with deadly drug supplies.
  • The smugglers who profit from our weak borders and immigration laws have subjected migrants to horrific violence and abuse. Our border officers are the ones fighting to stop them.
  • Secretary Nielsen testified on March 6 that law enforcement must give pregnancy tests to all migrant girls 10 years or older as a result of regular sexual assault from smugglers and others on their journey.
  • One-third of the women making the trek to our border become victims of rape or other forms of sexual abuse.

MYTH 5: President Trump’s executive action on the border is overreaching, similar or worse to President Obama’s.

FACT: President Trump’s exercise of executive power is categorically different from the kind President Obama used to circumvent existing immigration law. 

  • President Trump acted under the clear authority provided under the National Emergencies Act to address the crisis at the border.
  • This is the literal and exact opposite of President’s Obama’s orders invalidating Congressional statute. President Obama violated Congressionally enacted law by effectively awarding lawful presence to those living in the country illegally and granting them affirmative immigration benefits—contravening a variety of clear-cut provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act (such as 8 U.S.C. §1101, 1158, 1226, 1229b, 1231, 1325, and 1326).
  • Beyond violating the INA, the whole thrust of President Obama’s action was to facilitate activity Congress had expressly outlawed (e.g., illegal entry, illegal work, etc.).
  • By contrast, President Trump is fulfilling his core Article II duties to enforce our duly passed immigration laws and prevent foreign nationals from violating those laws en masse. Whereas President Obama could not find a single statute authorizing his Administration to issue DACA/DAPA (because none existed), President Trump’s emergency declaration is an explicit and straightforward invocation of authority delegated to the President by Congress.
  • Far from unprecedented, 60 national emergencies have been declared since Congress passed the National Emergencies Act in 1976, and 32 are still in effect today. The President’s Emergency declaration enforces existing law and carries out his sworn duty to uphold U.S. sovereignty and national security.

Video: The President has a duty to fix this crisis, Press Secretary Sanders says