Montana U.S. Sen. Steve Daines will get a firsthand look at the situation on the southern border of the United States Friday. It’s a place that has become a hot topic again even more than one thousand miles away in Montana as the number of illegal crossings at the U.S.- Mexico border surges to record levels.
Daines will be joining fellow Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, both of Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, which has been called ground zero for the flood of migrants coming into the country illegally. Daines, like most other Republicans, is putting the blame squarely on the Biden Administration.
“President Biden sent a message to the southern border to Central America and Mexico that the southern border is open. And that is tragic because the victims often time are children. This is a crisis and it needs to be addressed. Sadly, I haven't seen President Biden go down to the border,” Daines said Thursday before departing for Texas.
And even though what is happening on the southern border is a long way from Montana, Daines says we are feeling the effect in a devastating way.
“We are seeing a flood of Mexican heroin, Mexican meth, and Mexican fentanyl coming into Montana. The purity level that these Mexican cartels with methamphetamine is close to 90%. Years ago, it was homemade meth in Montana that had purity levels of less than 30%,” said Daines.
Daines says Border Patrol agents are tied up apprehending migrants and aren’t able to focus on stopping drugs from coming into the country.
Montana's other senator, Democrat Jon Tester, visited the border in March of 2019. At that time, there was also a large surge of people crossing the border illegally. He believes technology and manpower will do a lot to secure the border as well re-establishing relationships with the Northern Triangle of Central America.
“I think we're seeing a surge right now, which indicates that it's worse right now, but we've seen surges before during the Trump Administration where the same things have happened. I think the key is to develop a long-term plan with good border security provisions in it. And then ultimately we need to pass an immigration bill here in Congress that gives folks a pathway to citizenship—where they obey the law, don’t jump the line, learn English and wait their turn," he said.
Tester admits that won’t be easy. “It’s going to be very difficult because again the border is being highly politicized,” he said.
Daines also says immigration reforms are needed and is hopeful that a bipartisan solution can be reached at some point.
“The first thing that we have to do is get back to securing the southern border. I think the best illustration is that when the roof is leaking, you don't think about a remodel project. You fix the leaking roof,” said Daines.