Southwest Washington’s U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler visited the country’s southern border late last week, posting about her trip and calling the situation a humanitarian and drug-trafficking crisis.
In the border town of McAllen, Texas, the congresswoman filmed Facebook videos in front of some sections of the border wall and discussed the “harrowing stories of human trafficking, of drug smuggling, that happens every single day here.”
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has intercepted 9,000 pounds of fentanyl so far this year, she said.
“That’s twice as much as all of the last year. To put it in perspective, one pound of fentanyl can be synthesized into drugs that can kill 226,000 people. It’s extremely dangerous and it’s made its way all the way into all corners of our country, and including Southwest Washington,” she said.
The region has been “specifically targeted by a flood of fentanyl and other illegal drugs because of the I-5 corridor,” Herrera Beutler added. “That’s why our southern border matters to Southwest Washington. It matters to our nation’s security.”
Herrera Beutler has been criticized by new challengers as being soft on immigration, with Republican candidate Joe Kent — who was recently endorsed by former president Donald Trump — pointing to her 2019 vote against Trump’s attempt to fund the border wall through an emergency declaration.
Back then, the congresswoman repeated her support for the wall, but warned the move could set a dangerous precedent.
In a Facebook video Thursday, Herrera Beutler pointed to the President Joe Biden administration’s halting of the wall’s construction as the reason sections of the wall are only “about 99% effective.”
While lights and cameras are missing from the wall, “this is a pretty good deterrent. It’s also a force multiplier for agents who are working these areas,” she said.
Making headlines this week is a flood of Haitian migrants in the border town of Del Rio that the Biden administration is working to deport. That town, however, is about five hours away from McAllen. The congresswoman didn’t touch on the situation in her online posts.
The six-term representative also lamented a limited number of border patrol agents that she said have been diverted to help a humanitarian crisis at the border, “meanwhile leaving open or leaving almost no deterrent for people who are coming across illegally.”
“So the mission of border security is really, it becomes second hand, just because of the sheer numbers and the size and the scope,” she said.
Whether it’s unmanned aerial vehicles, cameras, lights or walls, Herrera Beutler said, “we need to make sure our agents have every possible tool both to help deal with the humanitarian crisis, but to secure our nation’s borders, which is neither a partisan concept nor a radical one.”