Marsha Blackburn

Sen. Marsha Blackburn

It’s easy to put stories of the crisis facing our nation at a distance when you live and work more than a thousand miles north of the US-Mexico border. But as the effects of mass illegal immigration spread northward, Tennesseans are facing a stark new reality: when our border isn’t secure, every town becomes a border town and every state a border state. Perhaps no one understands that better than Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch, who describes the crisis as “out of control.”

Last week, I had a virtual conversation with Rausch, who leads statewide investigations into human and drug trafficking. Our discussion made it abundantly clear that communities throughout Tennessee are already feeling the effects of cartel control at the southern border. Rausch explained, “The way the border is being handled right now is causing all of us to be Border States, [and] we’re seeing that in Tennessee.”

Border patrol agents and sheriffs began warning officials in Washington about the pernicious influence of cartels and traffickers well before the most recent wave of migrants made their way north. According to Rausch, human smuggling is occurring “in unprecedented numbers” in Tennessee; Rausch also pointed to the unprecedented availability of drugs such as fentanyl and methamphetamines as evidence that the border crisis has evolved into a universal threat. “It is coming across so freely and so readily,” he cautioned. “It is a major concern.” The knowledge that cartels are abusing Biden’s border crisis to profit at the expense of American lives makes the increasing rate of overdoses attributed to the pandemic that much more heartbreaking.

Despite the insistence of open borders advocates, encouraging more illegal immigration isn’t an empathetic policy. Instead, it directly puts the fate of women, children, and families in the hands of cartels and traffickers. While some in the current administration refuse to condemn or even witness the atrocities, Republicans in Washington are leading the charge towards tangible solutions.

I am currently working with my colleagues in the Senate to introduce the Make the Migrant Protection Protocols Mandatory Act of 2021, which will reinstate the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico policy. By taking official action to restore mandated migrant protection protocols, limit asylum abuse, and eliminate ineffective catch and release policies, we will enable immigration officials to regain control over the border and stem the flow of illegal entry.

There is no longer any question of shielding Tennesseans from the border crisis fallout. It’s too late for that. But through conversations like the one I had with David Rausch, we can learn new ways to respond to this latest, massive push against our southern border. The Volunteer State is all too quickly becoming a border state, and another day of inaction by the Biden administration is another day our communities are at risk.