Illegal immigration is out of control. Millions are streaming through the border. We all know that. But why? What caused it? And what do we do about it?

Biden’s disastrous border policy is the number one issue for American voters, and the most urgent issue affecting our country. But there’s only so much one can learn about any issue from watching the news or reading newspapers. As a congressional candidate, I owe it to my constituents to be better informed. So a few weeks ago, I made the trip to Texas and New Mexico to visit our Southern Border to see things for myself and to try to understand what’s really going on.

My guide for the trip was a former senior member of the Department of Homeland Security under President Trump, who the same week, had given a nearly identical tour to former Vice President, Mike Pence. My guide also arranged for me to meet with several current and former Border Patrol Chiefs, each with decades of experience, who provided illuminating insights into both the causes of the insanity of our border situation and potential solutions.

I share with you a summary of what I observed, what I heard, and what I learned.

My first stop was to the U.S. Border Patrol Museum in El Paso, Texas to attend a ceremony for the centennial anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Border Patrol. This provided fascinating insight into the history, mission, and operations of the Border Patrol.

The U.S. Border Patrol was founded in 1924 and was originally a division of the Department of Labor’s Immigration Bureau. Since 2003, it has become part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), itself a component of the Department of Homeland Security, which was established in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is one of the world’s largest law enforcement organizations, with more than 60,000 employees, and is mandated with keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating lawful international travel and trade.

The Border Patrol itself now has over 19,000 agents and is responsible for patrolling the 6,000 miles of land border with Canada and Mexico as well as 2,000 miles of coastal waters surrounding the Florida peninsula and Puerto Rico. The Border Patrol’s mission is to prevent unauthorized entries into the United States and to uphold national security.

The ceremony I attended was emotionally moving and included a reading of the names of every one of the 154 Border Patrol agents who died in the line of duty, as well as a variety of pageantry and speeches.

Of note, one of the keynote speakers at the ceremony was Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security, who, as you may remember, was impeached by House Republicans in February for his handling of the border crises (the impeachment was dismissed two months later by Senate Democrats). I was intently curious to see how his remarks would be received (muted but polite applause, attributable to the professionalism and respectfulness of the rank-and-file agents in attendance).

What struck me the most listening to, and speaking with current and former CBP agents was their intense loyalty to the Border Patrol and to each other, their patriotism, and the loneliness of their jobs. CBP is the branch of law enforcement that few of us know about or appreciate.

Agents patrol remote stretches of isolated desert border by themselves and for very long shifts. They are frequently without cell service, often 40 miles from the next nearest agent.

Speaking to them, what became apparent was their frustration. Many agents come from Hispanic immigrant families themselves and are recruited with promises and images of catching bad guys, stemming the tide of drugs, and protecting our country.

Yet today, an overwhelming part of their jobs has become processing asylum seekers under the Biden administration’s “catch-and-release” border policies. Illegals are given an asylum hearing date, perhaps five years down the road, at which, of course, few show up. They are set free, and then they disappear.

The jobs of the Border Patrol are made even more difficult by the mainstream media, which has been influenced by the ideology of left-wing progressives. It is a human right, the media says, for anyone on Earth to come to the United States and benefit from our freedoms and prosperity. Thus, Border Patrol, who are doing their jobs to protect American citizens, are portrayed by the media as evil villains, denying basic human rights.

No wonder morale is low. I learned that a very large number of CBP agents have taken early retirement in recent years, their vast institutional knowledge lost. Others are waiting until November to make retirement decisions. I was informed that a Biden victory would spark a floodgate of retirements. Unsurprisingly, support for President Trump among the Border Patrol Agents with whom I spoke was overwhelming. 

My next stop was to the border wall itself. I visited a section of the wall in Sunland Park, New Mexico, very close to where Texas, New Mexico and Mexico meet.

The wall that was erected during the Trump administration abruptly stops just short of the base of a small mountain (more like a large hill), named Mount Cristo Rey. I learned from my guide that when the Biden Administration took office, they stopped all building of the wall at the Southern Border. Thus, there are gaps all over the Border, like the one I’m standing in front of.

Here we could observe members of the cartels on the Mexican side of the border and U.S. Border Patrol Agents on the U.S. side, watching each other. There were also several young men on cell phones on the Mexico side walking back and forth right behind the wall. It was clearly a game of cat and mouse, the cartels waiting and strategizing to see when they get people across the border.

Driving along the border, we could also see where Texas Governor Greg Abbott took matters into his own hands, to the anger (and lawsuits) of the Biden administration. There was barbed wire on the U.S. side of the border fence that Texas erected and patrols by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). Texas’s goal, I was told, was to prevent illegals who do make it across the border from making it to a highway or to urban areas (in our case, El Paso), since once illegals get to a highway or urban area, they’re gone for good. I learned on my trip that what we refer to as “the wall” is not simply a physical barrier, but a system of barriers and surveillance, including cameras, drones, barbed wire, and, of course, fencing.

No barrier, I was told, can ever be 100% effective. The system’s purpose is not only to prevent and discourage people from crossing the border but also to slow them down in order to give sufficient time for CPB Agents to spot, converge, and apprehend them.

My long conversations with two former border patrol chiefs, both of whom still advise and consult on border issues were fascinating. They both explained the strategy for how the Mexican cartels get bad guys and drugs across the border. The cartels will flood one small area of the border with several hundred economic migrants, forcing every border patrol agent in the region to converge in one place, thus leaving long stretches of the border unmanned. With Border Patrol pre-occupied, the cartels will then sneak in the criminals, the high-value migrants, and the drug smugglers elsewhere.

The cartels, I learned, are incredibly sophisticated and well-funded, run like multinational corporations. Not only do they arrange border crossings, but can arrange transport for illegals to pretty much anywhere in the United States. Essentially, door-to-door service. And what the cartels charge for a crossing is dependent on one’s home country. A Venezuelan or Haitian migrant might pay several thousand dollars, a Mexican upwards of $10,000. The going rate for a Chinese national to cross the border, I was told, was $40,000!

The Border Crises is Not One Issue, But Many

My observations also made it clear that the immigration problem isn’t just one problem, but at least five, each with distinct impacts on our country.

The Border Chiefs with whom I spoke both estimated that about 90% of the people crossing were economic migrants, not criminals, drug dealers, or terrorists. However, with an estimated 2.5 million illegals who crossed the border from Mexico in 2023, and an estimated 9 million border crossings nationwide since the Biden administration took office (not including the more than 1.8 million “got-aways”), 10% is a lot of potential bad guys.

And while everyone who is caught and processed by Border Patrol is searched through a database to see if they are on a criminal or terrorist watchlist, and deported if flagged, most criminals would not show up on these lists. We do not have access to criminal justice records from many countries from which illegals are coming.

Worse, of course, are the “got-aways.” We simply don’t know who they are, or where they go. They may have been criminals released from prisons, terrorists from Muslim countries, or spies from China.

Drugs are a second major cancer of the border crises. Fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana are commonly smuggled into the United States across the Southern Border. I was told that as long as there is demand for drugs in the U.S., we’re never going to be able to stop the drug inflow entirely. But what’s happening now is that Border Patrol is spending most of their time and resources processing economic migrants, rather than focusing on stemming the flow of drugs.

There’s a similar story with human trafficking. We have little idea how many people are being trafficked by the cartels and exploited by being forced into labor against their will for domestic servitude, or factory and agricultural work. Nor do we know how many, including minors, are trafficked for sex exploitation. Just like with the drug trade, with Agents tied up processing illegals, human trafficking flourishes.

A fourth impact of unfettered illegal immigration into our country is its impact on the economy and quality of life of our own citizens, especially in our nation’s cities. We’ve all heard stories of cities like New York paying $400 a night to house illegals in luxury hotels and giving them cell phones and prepaid credit cards. Meanwhile, those local governments cut budgets for basic services, crime increases, homelessness abounds, and quality of life deteriorates.

The situation is economically unsustainable. And while we may have little sympathy for progressive-controlled “sanctuary” cities, the self-inflicted destruction of our nation’s once-great cities is an embarrassment for our country.

Last, but certainly not least, is the potential impact of tens of millions of illegal immigrants on our democratic system. As most of us suspect, this is likely the primary reason for Biden’s open-border policies. The possibility of illegals voting, either now or in the future if they are granted amnesty, and the prospect of counting illegal immigrants in the national census to increase the number of congressional districts dominated by Democrats, will have a huge influence on our politics.

The Solutions

Politicians like to speak in soundbites. “Build the Wall.” “Send them back.” However, what was explained to me was that reality is more complicated. There’s no single fix to our border crises. What I write here is not necessarily comprehensive, but illustrative of what I believe must be done.

The most important thing we must do to solve illegal immigration is to discourage people from coming in the first place.

We must enforce current asylum laws that state that asylum seekers must apply for asylum in the U.S. embassy of their home country, or in the next country to which they transit. Based on laws in today’s books, but unenforced by the Biden administration, a Venezuelan asylum seeker, for instance, must declare for asylum in Columbia, not when they cross the border into the U.S. from Mexico.

We must stop subsidizing sanctuary cities and crack down on the NGOs that provide food, clothing, shelter, and transportation to illegals as soon as they cross the border.

We must make it more difficult for illegal immigrants to cross the border itself. Of course, that means completing the wall along the Southern Border. It also means increasing the funding and resources for the Border Patrol to focus on enforcement, preventing drug smuggling, and stopping human trafficking, not just for processing asylum requests, as Biden has done.

We must be able to deport illegal immigrants. However, it is crucial to understand that this cannot be done without the cooperation (one way or another) of other countries, which involves both diplomacy and trade policy.

In order to “send them back,” we must first know where to send them back to. Often, Border Patrol does not know where people have come from because illegals typically throw away their IDs before crossing the U.S. border. We also must have agreements with the home countries of illegals to take them back, or with third-party countries that will accept them.

We need an international database of criminals and terrorists that our Border Patrol can search when apprehending people crossing the Southern Border, and we need relations with Central American countries that illegals are transiting through. I was told that Panama, for instance, is working with CPB to try to identify migrants crossing the Darian Pass. Even better would be to find ways to encourage Central American countries to strengthen their own borders to prevent the flow of illegals transiting from South American countries up through Mexico.

Relations with Mexico are obviously paramount. President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy was successful, and indeed possible because he was able to cajole the Mexican government, through the threats of tariffs and other means, into going along. It remains (no pun intended) to be seen how Mexico’s new leftist president, Claudia Sheinbaum, elected just a few weeks ago, will work with the U.S. Encouraging and helping Mexico to crack down on the cartels is also crucial.

Finally, there are other measures, admittedly some politically difficult, that we must make here in the United States. We should seek to end birthright citizenship, make it so that there is no possible path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, ensure illegals cannot vote in local and state elections, and change the rules on the census so that congressional districts are based on the number of citizens, not on total population.


My visit to the border was at once eye-opening, thought-provoking, and intensely frustrating. It left me with three realizations.

First, the border situation is worse than I imagined, and it is likely to deteriorate even more before it gets better. I was told that CBP expects a huge influx of illegal immigrants in the months before the November election as people rush to cross before Trump is re-elected and implements new border restrictions.

Second, I have a new appreciation for how difficult a job the brave men and women of the Border Patrol have. They are undermanned, under-resourced, and completely hamstrung by the open border policies of the Biden Administration. The media will continue to be a roadblock to border enforcement, pulling on the heartstrings of the American public with images of separated families and stories of children escaping gangs.

Third, I have an infinitely better understanding of how complex the border issues are to solve. Real solutions involve the interplay of multiple law enforcement agencies, government bureaucracies, cutting-edge technologies, diplomacy, trade relations, drug policies, and more. It will take an absolutely determined and coordinated effort from our federal government to secure the border. What is also crystal clear is that the situation won’t improve until after the November election and a resolute Trump administration returns to power.

Let’s hope and pray that’s not too late.

Will you stand up for American values?

Will you fight to save our children? Join me and together we can secure a bright future for our families and reclaim our great country.



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I'll fight for our rights and ensure our values are upheld.

Andrew Gutmann for Congress