Local congressman visits border, calls for resources, support, reforms
U.S. Border Patrol encountered nearly two million immigrants at the border in fiscal year 2023
– United States Representative Jimmy Panetta (D, Monterey County) recently visited the El Paso Sector of the U.S. Mexico border alongside U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, who represents the area in congress. Panetta surveyed a port of entry border crossing, toured a U.S. customs and border protection enhanced holding facility, and met with a local nonprofit that accepts migrants after being released to discuss the need for more federal resources and reforms to deal with the crisis at the southern border. This is Panetta’s sixth visit to the southern border of the United States since he was first elected to office in 2016.
The U.S. Border Patrol encountered nearly two million immigrants at the border in fiscal year 2023. Recently, the U.S. – Mexico border has seen unprecedented daily arrivals of migrants, with as many as 10,000 illegal crossings reported in one day. In FY 2023 CBP seized approximately 551 thousand pounds of drugs. The most commonly seized drugs in the El Paso Sector are methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana.
“Every time I’ve visited the southern border, I’ve come away with the same sentiment that we need more resources to handle the constant deluge of migrants and drugs that continue to reach our country,” said Panetta. “Although I’ve always supported immigration reform for our Dreamers, Farmworkers, and their families, I’ve consistently stated that we also need more border security, as that isn’t a binary choice. My recent visit again underscores the fact that law enforcement on the border needs more officers, agents, infrastructure, technology, immigration judges, courts, and court staff to ensure an orderly and secure process to handle the overwhelming number of illegal crossings of people and narcotics. As the U.S. Senate formulates a supplemental spending package, it must contain commonsense, common-ground reforms to our immigration system so that we can better process the increased flow of migrants and asylum seekers without compromising the core values of our nation.”
Panetta first traveled to the Paso del Norte Bridge, one of the United States’ busiest border crossings, to receive a briefing from the Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operation on current operations to adapt to increased migration flows and better intercept narcotics. The delegation then traveled to a Border Patrol Enhanced Holding Facility (EHF) to see firsthand the process migrants encounter when taken into custody. Lastly, Panetta visited Annunciation House, a local nonprofit, that receives migrants after they have been released from processing by the CBP.
Since coming to congress, Panetta has joined Democrats and Republicans to provide more than $120 million to better secure our border, uphold our country’s asylum laws, and ensure a more efficient, effective, and orderly process for migrants. Panetta continues fighting for additional resources to speed up asylum processing, including more courts, judges, officers, and court staff. Panetta is a strong advocate for commonsense immigration reform including the DREAM Act and the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act (FWMA).
Panetta is leading the effort in congress to address the flow of illegal drugs over our southern border and into our communities. Panetta authored the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act which would provide federal and local law enforcement with better tools to track xylazine, prevent its misuse, prosecute and penalize its illegal traffickers, and, ultimately, help protect families and communities from the scourge of fentanyl. Additionally, Panetta says he continues to advocate strongly for additional measures to expand tracking and treatment programs for illegal fentanyl.