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Guest column/Border home of a real, humanitarian crisis

Recently, I visited America’s southern border with Mexico at the El Paso crossing, which is the second busiest port of entry along our southern border. In every aspect, the reality on the ground is much different than how the national media and cable TV talking heads portray it.

Here’s what I saw: Our border agents are providing humane and compassionate treatment across the board. Those who cross our border illegally move relatively freely about the holding facility. The only restrictions are designed to ensure the safety and security of everyone, especially the children. They get better medical treatment than they’ve ever had. I saw diapers, blankets and baby formula stacked to the ceiling. There was ample food and bottled water; in fact, those in custody get three hot meals a day. Oh, and immigrants were not forced to drink out of toilets as one of my colleagues on the Democratic side so cynically and falsely claimed.

You’ve probably heard about human trafficking at the border.

Unfortunately, it’s all too real.

I saw a case unfold right before my eyes when I was there — that of a 4-year old boy who was part of a “family unit” trying to cross. It turned out the little boy, originally from Brazil, was “rented” to another illegal couple from his parents who had already illegally crossed into America with their older children. So, now the couple that attempted to cross with the child will be charged with human trafficking, and a search is on for the parents of the child who will also be charged. Can you imagine selling or renting your 4-year-old to unknown persons and leaving them behind while you illegally pursue a better life for yourself in another country? Thankfully, the boy is now in good hands.

Also coming across our southern border are staggering amounts of illegal drugs like meth, heroin and fentanyl. These are drugs that end up in local communities here in Ohio, and around the country, killing our friends and family members and ruining lives. We’ve got to stop this.

The wall? New sections are going up — I saw it with my eyes, and I will continue to support President Trump in his efforts to get the wall built. And let’s remember, he isn’t talking about a coast-to-coast wall — he’s calling for a wall where a physical barrier makes sense, like in necessary, high-traffic locations where we visited. This is common sense.

Since leaving Texas, it has bothered me that I cannot share the names or faces of our border agents and other immigration officials I met and spoke with due to the toxic political rhetoric infecting our culture. That’s a shame. I spoke with some great Americans — men and women who get up every day to do the difficult job of protecting our country, and who have families and children living, working and going to school in the local community. They’re simply enforcing the law. But for serving our nation, their ‘thank you’ from the far-left is fearing for their safety, and the safety of their families. It’s easy to call names and hurl insults from a keyboard — but these are real people doing a great job under tremendously difficult circumstances and extreme pressure. They deserve our gratitude.

Our capacity to catch and detain those illegally crossing our southern border is being overwhelmed. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of men and women flowing up from Central America, bypassing other nations, are attempting to claim asylum in America. Some perspective: In 2009, there were 35,811 asylum claims of which only about 8,000 were determined to be legitimate and were granted. Last year, there were 162,060 claims for asylum and 13,168 were granted. The larger problem, however, is that those whose asylum claims are denied (the overwhelming majority, and for legitimate reasons), disappear into American society and never even bother to show up for their hearing. Who pays the cost to find or care for these illegal immigrants? Hardworking Americans do.

It was an eye-opening trip — one that confirmed my suspicions that what is really going on down there is not what is being falsely claimed by folks with political agendas. We absolutely have a border crisis, and it’s a real humanitarian crisis.

But, it’s not because of the way immigrants are treated by our border agents, and it certainly is not manufactured. I will continue supporting President Trump’s efforts to enforce America’s immigration laws, fix our broken immigration system and secure our borders.

(Johnson, R-Marietta, represents Ohio’s 6th Congressional District, which includes all of Jefferson, Belmont, Columbiana, Carroll, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Noble and Washington counties, and portions of Athens, Mahoning, Muskingum, Scioto and Tuscarawas counties.)

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