With the government on track to catch nearly 100,000 illegal aliens this month at the border, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen warned Monday that the immigration system is facing a “near systemwide meltdown.”
If the projection holds, it would be the worst in a decade. But it would be more troubling because of the large number of children and families, who are nearly impossible to deport, the Washington Times reported.
“The situation at our Southern Border has gone from a crisis, to a national emergency, to a near systemwide meltdown, Nielsen said as she delivered the update.
She said 98 percent of illegal aliens caught at the border in 2017 remain in the U.S. today.
Nielsen said a wall is part of the solution, and Congress must change the laws to speed up deportation.
“DHS has built the first border wall to go up in a decade,” she said. “We are building more, and have plans for hundreds of new miles to block illicit goods, illegal entry, and help ensure a safe and orderly migrant flow.”
Islamic terrorism is still the biggest terror threat, she said, adding that her department also is paying attention to right-wing domestic terrorism.
She said the DHS, created 16 years ago, can’t handle all of the threats, emphasizing the “whole of society” must be engaged.
“The ground beneath our feet has shifted. Our enemies and adversaries have evolved. And the arms of government are swinging too slowly to protect the American people,” she said.
Where the wall is being built
After Congress allocated only $1.4 billion of the $5.7 billion Trump requested for border-barrier funding, the president declared a national emergency at the southern border. The order would divert $3.6 billion from military construction funds to building a wall.
Last Thursday, the Senate voted 59-41 to block the emergency declaration, with 12 Republicans opposing the president. Trump vetoed the measure, and it’s unlikely the Senate will find enough votes to override the veto.
The first new wall construction will begin in April, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The project includes 25 miles of wall in Hidalgo County, Texas, and about eight miles in Starr County, Texas.
To date, wall construction has amounted to renovating or repairing existing barriers, not constructing new ones, the Daily Mail of London reported March 14.
The New American cited a CBP official saying Feb. 6 that the government would soon begin construction of more border barriers in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, with heavy construction equipment expected to arrive within the week.
That section was to be funded with more than $600 million approved in March 2018 by Congress.
In an interview with “Fox News Sunday” in February, White House adviser Stephen Miller said hundreds of miles of a new border barrier will be constructed by 2020.