Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), along with Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) traveled to Corpus Christi, Hidalgo and McAllen, Texas over the weekend, and met with ranchers, sheriffs and Border Patrol agents as a way of examining the challenges associated with securing our southern border. The senators observed an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operation and viewed aerostats, visited a port of entry, toured a Border Patrol station and a centralized processing center that handled a large part of the surge in unaccompanied children crossing the border last summer, and got a feel for the terrain with a riverine and border line tour.

Senator Johnson remarked when he returned from the border, “In spite of heroic efforts of public safety personnel, America is not winning the illegal immigration battle on our southern border. Much can be done to improve interdiction at the border, but we must also realize — and change — the harmful unintended consequences of federal government policies that fuel illegal immigration and frustrate prosecution and deportation efforts that follow apprehension. That is what we hope to correct as we craft real common-sense border security and immigration enforcement legislation over the next weeks and months.”

Senator Carper said, “This trip will help lay groundwork for our Committee to continue a critical discussion on border security and comprehensive immigration reform. Together, Chairman Johnson, Senator Sasse and I saw firsthand the tangible progress that has been made in securing our southern border, where the use of new and innovative technologies, like surveillance aerostats, are helping patrol officers monitor and maintain security. But while substantive progress has been made, challenges certainly remain. It is critical that we continue our efforts to make the border more secure in a cost effective and efficient manner as part of our overall strategy to fix our broken immigration system. At the same time, we must address the underlying causes – the lack of hope, economic opportunity, and security – that continue to push thousands of undocumented migrants to make the dangerous journey to the United States. I am eager to work with Chairman Johnson, Senator Sasse and my colleagues in the committee to drive this conversation forward.”

Senator Sasse said, “Too often, politicians from both parties talk about the border as if it isn't a real and dangerous place. If we want to fight human trafficking and protect American citizens from jihadi-minded migrants, we need to take a clear look at the challenges we face and set high goals with data-driven metrics to hold Washington’s bureaucracies accountable. This was a tremendous opportunity to hear from our men and women on the ground—it’s time to start tackling these problems with real solutions."