San Diego Supervisor Urges US Senate to ‘Fix the Chaos’ at Border Amid Record Illegal Immigrant Surge

San Diego Supervisor Urges US Senate to ‘Fix the Chaos’ at Border Amid Record Illegal Immigrant Surge

Illegal immigrants who passed through a gap in the U.S. border wall await processing by Border Patrol agents in Jacumba, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Brad Jones

Brad Jones

12/21/2023

Updated: 12/29/2023

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Amid record numbers of illegal border crossings this week and thousands of illegal immigrants “pouring into” the United States every day, San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond issued an urgent plea to the federal government to “fix the chaos and restore order.”
“Foreign aid should not be the dealbreaker when it comes to securing our border,” he said, referring to the federal budget impasse in the U.S. Senate, in a Dec. 19 statement.
With senators headed home for the holidays, the budget stalemate means that tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid earmarked for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, will be held back until the border crisis is curbed or until a budget deal is reached in the new year.
Illegal immigrants pass through a gap in the U.S. border wall to await processing by Border Patrol agents in Jacumba, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Illegal immigrants pass through a gap in the U.S. border wall to await processing by Border Patrol agents in Jacumba, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

“While our own country’s needs are not being met, it’s incomprehensible that senators are focused on spending $110 billion on foreign aid. The reality of thousands entering the country every day, living in makeshift holding areas, is both tragic and inexcusable,” Mr. Desmond said. “Americans pay taxes for safety and security, and the federal government is failing.”
He urged the U.S. Senate to pass two “common sense” proposals: the first to make illegal immigrants ineligible to apply for asylum if they don’t ask for humanitarian protection in the first safe country they pass through, and secondly, allowing customs and border officials to “turn away asylum seekers” when the immigration system has exceeded “a manageable capacity.”
He told The Epoch Times that foreign aid shouldn’t be used as “a wedge” to achieve border security.
“And, I get it. I’m a politician. When you get leverage, you try to use it,” he said.
The two issues should be discussed separately, and “not be used one against the other or to get the other,” he said. “I just don’t see conflating those two different ideas.”
San Diego County has seen over 60,000 illegal immigrants released in the region over the last three months “with no signs of slowing down,” he said.
Nationally, more than 12,600 illegal immigrants were encountered at the southern border on Dec. 19 alone, the most ever recorded in a single day.
“It’s a disservice to those who navigated the legal immigration process and are still awaiting, some for several decades, to be awarded permanent residency. Our immigration system needs to be overhauled,” he said. “Proper background checks must be done in the country of origin to allow good people in and keep bad people out.”
Ira Mehlman, a spokesman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, told The Epoch Times that ideally border security shouldn’t be tied to foreign aid, but because the Biden administration won’t listen to reason, the U.S. Senate has been left with no choice but to use the leverage it has to secure the border.
“It should be a fundamental responsibility of the government to secure our borders, but under this administration not only are they not doing it, [but] they are affirmatively refusing to do it,” Mr. Mehlman said. “They are undermining the ability of our law enforcement to do it, so it has to be leveraged and the foreign aid bill seems to be a perfect vehicle for this.”
If the U.S. is prepared to help other countries improve their security, it’s “perfectly reasonable” and “perfectly germane” to expect the Biden administration to provide border security “here at home,” he said.
“They won’t do it unless this leverage is exercised,” he said. “They will find any loophole and excuse, they will outright ignore federal statutes, so it has to be done in this manner, unfortunately.”
Manny Bayon, a National Border Patrol Council union spokesman in San Diego, told The Epoch Times via text message the border situation has become a “ticking time bomb” with the number of illegal immigrants released into the county doubling in recent weeks to about 800 to 1,000 per day from 400 to 500.
Manny Bayon, a U.S. Border Patrol agent, listens to radio chatter near the U.S. border wall in San Diego on May 31, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Manny Bayon, a U.S. Border Patrol agent, listens to radio chatter near the U.S. border wall in San Diego on May 31, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

“The United States has prioritized other countries instead of focusing on the U.S.A., and [is] not securing our borders,” Mr. Bayon said. “Every migrant from around the world is being allowed into the country [to claim asylum], knowing the asylum process is broken beyond repair. We need to repair our border now.”
The 12,600 illegal immigrants in custody Dec. 19, broke all records of single-day apprehensions since 1924 when the U.S. Border Patrol was founded. And, that number doesn’t include “getaways,” those at migrant camps in the U.S. waiting to be processed, or those “waiting between fences” at the border, he said.
The system, he said, is “well beyond broken.”
“Why do the men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol wake up every morning to go to work when the border is wide open?” he pondered. “We are just allowing migrants into the country against the oath we took to defend this country.”

Costs to the County

San Diego County has paid $6 million over the last four months to South Bay Community Services, a non-government organization, or NGO, that is assisting illegal immigrants at a closed school in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood.
“The county is funding that effort for these nonprofits to the tune of about $1.5 million a month,” Mr. Desmond said. “It’s coming out of our behavioral health and housing fund.”
Costs associated with illegal immigrants should be covered by the federal government—not San Diego County taxpayers, he said.
“There’s no end in sight. About 900 per day are being dropped off in San Diego County, so our costs are going up and our local coffers are going down,” he said.
San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond, poses for a photo after an interview for EpochTV's California Insider in Irvine, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2023. (Taras Dubenets/The Epoch Times)

San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond, poses for a photo after an interview for EpochTV's California Insider in Irvine, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2023. (Taras Dubenets/The Epoch Times)

The NGOs help illegal immigrants charge their phones and get in touch with their sponsors. They provide basic necessities—food, shelter, and clothing—and transport them to the airport, Mr. Desmond said.
Reports of illegal immigrants crowding hospital emergency rooms is another problem, he added.
“When you have an influx of 900 people a day … they’re going to start using our facilities, emergency rooms and hospital beds. That just goes along with that, unfortunately, and it’s a cost to our community,” he said.
In late November, around Thanksgiving, news reports surfaced that San Diego International Airport was overrun with about 300 illegal immigrants.
“What happens is the NGO in San Diego at the school—they take a lot of them to the airport, and so then a lot of times their flights don’t leave until the next day or a couple of days,” Mr. Desmond said.
Illegal immigrants gather at a processing center run by nonprofit groups in the City Heights neighborhood in San Diego on Oct. 31, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Illegal immigrants gather at a processing center run by nonprofit groups in the City Heights neighborhood in San Diego on Oct. 31, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

He said he has heard the county’s hospitals and ERs are overwhelmed.
“The whole system is stressed. Our mental health systems, our police systems, our hospital systems are all stressed,” he said.
Thousands of illegal immigrants entering the United States every day, he said, is “impractical.”
“We want people to come to our country, but the federal government should only allow the number of people they can properly manage and get through the immigration system instead of the border being wide open,” he said.
In recent weeks, a pedestrian bridge at the San Ysidro port of entry was closed to people with legal documentation to cross the border into the U.S. because the Border Patrol didn’t have the manpower to keep it open while dealing with the surge of illegal immigrants in other areas of Imperial and San Diego counties, according to Miles Himmel, a spokesman for Mr. Desmond.
Those who have been released into the U.S. can’t legally work in the country while awaiting their immigration hearings, which can take more than four years, Mr. Desmond said.
“So, they have to work under the table, get a job or some sort of income to feed themselves somehow,” he said.
Illegal immigrants who passed through a gap in the U.S. border wall await processing by Border Patrol agents in Jacumba, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Illegal immigrants who passed through a gap in the U.S. border wall await processing by Border Patrol agents in Jacumba, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Additionally, the Border Patrol doesn’t have the capacity to thoroughly test illegal immigrants for communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, Mr. Desmond said.
“We know that they’re not being checked for TB,” he said.
Another worry is the volume of drugs being trafficked across the border, including fentanyl, blamed for more than 108,000 overdose deaths nationwide in the one-year period ending in May 2022, according to the Federal Drug Administration.
Finally, amid protests over the war in the Middle East, Mr. Desmond said he is most concerned about terrorists entering the country.
“We’ve got the war in Ukraine, we’ve got the war in Israel, and we’ve got terrorists who are able to just walk across and claim asylum here in this country. This is not sustainable,” he said.
According to Mr. Desmond, the Border Patrol does minimal screening of illegal immigrants to see if they have criminal records in the U.S. but doesn’t really have the time or ability to search databases in other countries.
“We just don’t have a proper screening. It’s like leaving your front door open and you just don’t know who’s coming through it,” he said.
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Brad Jones

Brad Jones

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Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.

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