There’s no question that our South and West Texas communities are bearing the brunt of the immigration crisis. When crisscrossing the 23rd District of Texas I consistently hear that folks I represent are concerned about the influx of migrants and subsequent releases by the Customs and Border Protection.
It doesn’t help that while the hardworking men and women of our Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Health and Human Services and others on the front lines of the border crisis are working overtime to do their jobs, dangerous drug cartels and human smugglers are benefiting from the crisis.
They operate vast networks that transcend our nation, Mexico and Central America and bring in $29 billion each year – more than Starbucks ($24.71 billion) and McDonalds ($22.9 billion). All while innocent lives suffer.
The root causes of our border crisis are violence, extreme poverty and lack of economic opportunity in the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – together known as the Northern Triangle. When these people decide to make the perilous, over 1,500-mile-long journey to the United States, they often need the help of these vast networks to make it happen. These smugglers earn nearly $2.3 billion in revenue each year.
They’re making the crisis worse by transporting people into our country illegally, while putting innocent lives at risk in the process.
We must make dismantling the infrastructure created by these human smugglers a national security priority. In June, 104,000 people were detained at our border. Almost every one of them had a phone number of a smuggler, a license plate of a bus that brought them here or a pickup location in their home country. We should be collecting this information and then use it to stop future operations.
Understanding and disabling these smuggling and trafficking networks should be a national intelligence priority.
These individuals threaten the security of the United States and the entire Western Hemisphere, and when it comes to stopping this crisis we need all hands on deck. This should include the men and women of our intelligence community. We must make sure that they maximize the use of their intelligence capabilities to disrupt and dismantle these dangerous operations.
Understanding these networks must be a national intelligence priority, and I’m proud that my bipartisan effort to make this a reality was passed out of the House last week.
I was proud to join fellow former CIA officer Representative Abigail Spanberger from Virginia in a bipartisan effort to make sure that stopping these bad actors is a national priority of the intelligence community. Solving our immigration crisis is always going to be a multi-front effort.
Ensuring facilities like Carrizo Springs and Clint are well-equipped while also knocking down the trails left by human smugglers are two of those fronts I’ve taken action on recently. I’ll continue to do all that I can to fight for the South and West Texas communities that are bearing the brunt of this crisis.
A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, and the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.
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