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A Barnstorming Success at Putting Eyes on Biden’s Border Failure

author Published by Chris Pierce

This NumbersUSA State Government Relations Action Report follows the team’s recent visit to the U.S.-Mexico Border in Yuma, Arizona, and San Diego, California, where we showed a group of Montana Legislators the intricacies of immigration enforcement and what they, as state legislators, can do to protect their constituents from Biden’s failed and dangerous immigration policies. NumbersUSA would like to thank the active and former members of the U.S. Border Patrol for their courteous hospitality, which made this trip possible. This post was originally published as an In-Depth State Update via email on March 30, 2024.

Letter from the Director:

NumbersUSA’s State Government Relations Initiative has never assembled or led a team to tour the border before. Then, conversations with a pair of Montana lawmakers several months ago culminated in a robust fact-finding itinerary that included several more of their Montana colleagues.

Our State Initiative’s goal is to help lawmakers (and empower their voters) have great information and a thorough understanding of immigration enforcement issues. States are in an unprecedented situation as a result of the federal government’s policies that have encouraged a global tide of illegal entry. The good news is that states have numerous policy tools, like E-Verify, available to them, so long as they determinedly implement them through state legislation.

It was truly a pleasure to team up with an invested group of state legislators to both see the reality on the ground at the southern border and discuss, in real-time, sensible policy responses. It may have been the first trip, but I sincerely doubt it will be the last.

Take the time to read my Chief of Staff’s action report, with some incredible photos, below.

– Andrew Good, Director

Border Action Report:

The trip started early Monday morning in Yuma, Arizona, with an introduction to Tony Porvaznik, a retired Chief Border Patrol Agent for the Yuma Sector, who would serve as our guide and field expert for the day at the Yuma border.

We hit the ground running. Initially, we visited sections of the 30ft border fence installed under the Trump Administration. Here, Tony was able to begin describing the modular uses of the barricade, the technology that supports it, and the manpower needed to operate such an apparatus.

Simply driving along the border fence, Tony pointed out different sections installed under various administrations. Each segment is referred to by the President who installed it. In Yuma, we were able to see the reddish 30ft “Trump Fence” compared to the gray chain-linked “Biden Fence” and the reddish 18ft “Obama Fence.” Later during the trip, we had the opportunity to see portions of “Clinton Fence” and “Bush Fence” in San Diego.

Various photos from the Yuma Sector, including fencing, crossing gates, surveillance vehicles, ladders used by aliens, the "crossing station" mentioned, and a group photo including Montana Representatives, NumbersUSA, and Tony Porvaznik (former Sector Chief).

Things became a bit more interesting when Tony took the group to our first ‘crossing station.’ The station consisted simply of a tent for shade, portajohns, dumpsters, and a giant banner showing illegal aliens how to download the controversial CBP One App. We were told the area was created to handle the unprecedented number of aliens illegally crossing the border and immediately surrendering to the Border Patrol for entry into the United States under the Biden Administration’s policies.

It was here, to the shock of many, we learned that the famous border “wall” (really a fence) is not actually “on” the U.S.-Mexico border but rather a couple hundred feet within U.S. territory. Tony explained that a smattering of international treaties/relations, tribal treaties, environmental concerns, and local and federal laws prevent the border barrier from being built “on” the border. Unfortunately, this means that aliens can still technically be in the U.S. and legally eligible to claim asylum even if they are on the Mexican side of the border fence.

While exploring this little area of the U.S. border where Federal territory meets up in one direction with the Cocopah Indian Reservation and Mexico in the other, our group found evidence of alien crossings such as foreign IDs, travel cards, cell phones, and bank cards all ditched by migrants as to make it more difficult for Border Patrol to determine a country of origin.

I am awed by how the mainstream media and our current administration have manipulated and bastardized the truth of the immigration crisis that this administration has created at our southern border. After seeing the situation firsthand, I can’t imagine how our southern border has become so porous. I also now question how porous Montana’s shared Northern border with Canada has become.

– Montana Legislator Steve Gunderson (R-1)

Of this evidence, interestingly, our group found several alien coaching documents from NGOs that had been brought from Mexico and beyond. We even found a pamphlet encouraging migration from the United Nations. We personally found papers in Portuguese, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, and even an unknown language that we later guessed to be a Peruvian mountain dialect.

After lunch, our group was privileged to visit the Yuma Sector Border Patrol Headquarters, where we met and talked with several active Border Patrol Agents and partook in a nearly three-hour briefing with the current Chief Patrol Agent for the Yuma Sector, Sean McGoffin. Before moving to the southern border, Chief McGoffin was a Border Patrol Agent along the northern border in Havre Sector, Montana. So the Chief and our group of Montana Legislators were quick friends.

The information given and the hospitality shown to us by the Chief and his agents were top-notch. Chief McGoffin described to the group what the average process entails, from alien apprehension to alien release or removal. He gave us some perspective on the illicit narcotics/human/weapons trade across the border. He also provided context on the home nations and destination cities of aliens apprehended in the Yuma Sector and so much more.

Photos from the Yuma Sector Border Patrol HQ, apprehension and destination cities maps, night pictures from the Yuma "crossing station" and a photo featuring Montana Reps. Steve Gunderson (R-1), Lola Sheldon-Galloway (R-22), Steven Galloway (R-24), and Montana Legislature Candidate Jason Gunderson (R-58).

Frankly, one thing that struck me throughout the briefing was the Chief’s optimism. While he was sure not to mince words about the hurdles faced by his agents and the crisis still unfolding along the border, the Chief was proud to describe the accomplishments of his agents. He is confident they were making a difference and playing a vital role in enforcing America’s laws. And he was right, as we would see firsthand the next day.

Chief McGoffin concluded by explaining the somewhat limited Constitutional parameters of the Border Patrol. He described with expert clarity what the Border Patrol, as a federal law enforcement agency, can and cannot do, their jurisdictions, what their policies are, and who makes them (surprise, it’s Congress) – something the media all too often fails to do in the current outraged-fueled “news” environment. The Chief was clear: he, his agents, and the entire Border Patrol are doing their jobs – apprehending illegal aliens and expediently and humanely processing them through the proper legal channels: ICE or USCIS (where the real issues arise under the Biden Administration).

There is this complicated system at play, and I think the Border Patrol is doing a great job; they’re doing their job, they’re doing enforcement, they’re doing humanitarian work here, and really what the problem is is our laws and the way that the system is set up. It really is unfair to our Border Patrol Agents.

– Jason Gunderson, Candidate for Montana’s 58th State District

Our Tuesday started well before dawn as we attempted to catch an illegal crossing at the same “station” we visited the previous day. Unfortunately, we had just missed a crossing about thirty minutes before we arrived at the site, per the Border Patrol Agents on duty. However, we were able to walk around and further explore this “crossing station,” which was quite interesting and provided some additional “evidence” we’ll explore in upcoming content.

The sun rose as we began the second leg of our trip, an excursion to San Diego. Along the way, by chance, our group encountered a group of Border Patrol Agents at a gas station near Jacumba, California, who shared with us that a large group of aliens was making their way to a migrant camp at the previous exit on Interstate 8 in the In-Ko-Pah Mountains to be picked up by Border Patrol.

Naturally, we rushed to the camp to make up for the missed opportunity earlier that morning. We arrived just in time to witness a large group of approximately 100 illegal aliens that consisted of men, women, and children surrender to Border Patrol. The experience was as disheartening to watch as it was fascinating.

Photos from the alien crossing and apprehension witnessed in Jacumba, California.

Before becoming overwhelmed by the sheer number of aliens arriving, our group was able to ask questions and converse with some of them. We learned that this particular group of aliens reportedly walked 15 miles that day to surrender at that location despite their well-put-together appearances. Their continents of origin included South America, Asia, Africa, and Central America. Although there were some families and couples, most were single adult male migrants, and many readily admitted to coming to the U.S. for economic opportunity and employment.

It wasn’t long before we sat in stunned silence as more and more aliens arrived at the freeway exit camp. It did not need to be explained that what we were witnessing was a live and prime example of the disastrous and dangerous Biden Border Crisis.

A crisis where aliens are smuggled by the Mexican drug cartels to be dropped just inside the United States border, where they surrender to Border Patrol. This serves as a place for aliens to rally for initial processing. (This is what we were witnessing). Next, these aliens are taken by bus to the nearest processing station. More than likely, these aliens will be released into ICE or USCIS custody, where they will be given a Notice to Appear before an immigration judge in six to eight years, if they receive one at all. This long and reckless period of time is due to ICE and ERO not being able to detain and process due to overcrowding or being required to release aliens due to policy.

When I went to tour the southern border, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had hoped it wasn’t as bad as the clips I’ve seen over the past few months, but the reality is we are in a full-blown crisis. We saw over 100 illegal aliens from all over the world cross into one sector alone. Joe Biden is fully responsible for this crisis. We need to shut down the southern border and build the wall immediately.

– Montana Legislator Braxton Mitchell (R-3)

The Border Patrol Agents who responded to the freeway migrant camp informed the group that the aliens we saw surrender were the second large group of the day, with reports of a third, even more massive group of aliens on the way. Something that stuck out to each member of our group was that each agent and field expert we met made sure to point out that this phenomenon of aliens surrendering to Border Patrol is relatively new.

In the past, it was common to hear of aliens who illegally crossed the border, doing whatever it took to avoid detection. In the present day, it could not be more opposite. The small percentage of illegal aliens who avoid Border Patrol are guaranteed nefarious foreign actors who are either smuggling narcotics or weapons, are on terror watchlists, or have been caught in the U.S. and deported multiple times before.

The vast majority of aliens illegally crossing the border search for Border Patrol Agents to surrender to. They know that the U.S. immigration system is so decayed by bad policy and worse leadership that the quickest and easiest way into the United States is to be caught and released by immigration authorities, agencies that are so backlogged that the aliens have years to disappear into the country’s interior and establish a life in the U.S.

The Biden Administration’s decisions on how to handle the border have encouraged those who should not be coming into our country with easy access through our physical barriers and loopholes in the law, which has put the USA in a state of insecurity and handed power to the dangers of cartel control.

Montana Legislator Lola Sheldon-Galloway (R-22)

The final stop on our Border tour was in Imperial Beach, California, where we met our field expert and guide for that portion of the trip, retired Border Patrol Agent Chris H. Chris was an invaluable resource on the tour, explaining the intricacies of a metropolitan border ‘town,’ telling an abundance of amazing stories of his time as an agent in the San Diego Sector, and providing some needed and blunt context on the Biden Border Crisis the group had seen unfolding right before our eyes.

First, Chris took us to Las Americas Premium Outlets, a massive outlet mall in Imperial Beach that backed right up against the southern border with Mexico. Chris had many, honestly somewhat humorous, stories about chasing aliens in and around the mall during his time as an agent. He was sure to point out the “shanty wall” behind the mall. This barrier was constructed during the Clinton Administration of surplus Vietnam-era mobile landing strip mats (large squares of fluted metal used to shore up and repair damaged landing strips in combat zones) along with some razor wire. It was clear that these barriers were used more as a funnel to deal with masses of Mexican crossers in the ’90s rather than an actual impediment to stop illegal crossings.

Our next stop was at an overlook in the Tijuana River National Estuary, which provided us a great view of the U.S.-Mexico border where Imperial Beach, California, ended and Tijuana, Mexico, began. Unfortunately, the estuary was filled with raw Mexican sewage, which Tijuana refuses to address or remedy. But the stench didn’t stop Chris from sharing some stories about the Mexican drug trade through Tijuana in the ’80s and ’90s. He explained that tensions escalated to the point of Mexican cartels taking potshots with AK-47s across the border, placing bounties on Border Patrol Agents, and even cartel snipers hunting Border Patrol in the U.S. from Tijuana rooftops. Chris was sure to contrast those stories with the newer “cross and surrender” doctrine followed by today’s illegal aliens.

Photos from the San Diego Sector including Bush fence, Clinton fence, the Quaker alien aid tent, the stark difference between the Imperial Beach and Tijuana sides of the border, and finally, a nice California sunset.

Finally, the last stop on our tour was at a San Diego Sector “crossing station,” much like the one we saw in Yuma, Arizona. A sizeable double concrete bollard fence protected this section, commonly called the “Bush Fence,” as it was constructed under the Bush administration. In San Diego, the “station” was set up and operated by a religious Quaker-led NGO, the American Friends Service Commission, to help further aid and equip aliens on their way into the nation’s interior.

Peeking inside this Quaker supply tent, we saw documents in Chinese, Hindi, Farsi, Vietnamese, French, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese, Turkish, Spanish, and English explaining the next steps to continue their illegal invasion of the U.S. Chris stated the illegals are brought into the tent, where the illegals point to the document in their language. Beyond these documents were tables and stacks of plastic bins filled with shoes, clothes, jackets, tarps, toiletries, and other supplies meant to provide a level of comfort to foreign aliens willfully breaking U.S. law and perpetuating the woes uncontrolled mass immigration creates. This tent was better stocked and equipped than most homeless shelters I have visited here in our homeland. No appropriate words express the level of anger and disappointment this created. To know that Americans are enabling, assisting, and equipping illegal aliens to invade our country.

It’s absolutely ridiculous how easily this administration has made illegal entry into our country. Barriers like fences allow Border Patrol to get to an area to be able to control and process folks coming into the country illegally. It was interesting to learn the purposeful way the fence is built so agents are able to see through it to see what’s happening on the other side. Compared to the old landing-pad fence where agents’ view is obscured, and they could not see potential danger on the other side.

– Montana Legislator Steven Galloway (R-24)

Assuredly, we all returned from our border trip with a mixed bag of emotions. No doubt, there are few Americans who have not seen the media coverage of the crisis on the border. That said, I believe there is a slight merging of political opinions and practical outlooks, as this crisis has risen to the current top issue in the upcoming election. Still, being there and watching the process happen with our own eyes, hearing the stories from different parties, and seeing the conditions was surreal and unsettling.

The only way we have a chance at stopping this unprecedented invasion is to use a multifaceted approach. Current laws must be enforced, additional legislation preventing future administrations from taking the current approach must be passed, and a commitment to the national interest that undergirds Americans’ quality of life must be renewed. When the Federal Government fails to protect American borders, States must decisively act to deter the effects of uncontrolled immigration, protecting their citizens and legal residents.

– Chris Pierce, Chief of Staff

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