A fifth-generation Arizona farmer accused lawmakers of refusing to secure the border for political purposes as the ongoing migrant crisis worsens, potentially giving terrorists the opportunity to sneak into the United States through his territory.
“They’re people who talk about issues, argue about issues. Border security has always been a political football,” Jim Shelton, owner of Shelton Ranch, told Fox News. “That’s the nature of our system.”
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A long-awaited bipartisan border security agreement aimed at controlling the overwhelmed asylum system at the southern border collapsed just days after its unveiling with all but four Republicans voting against legislation advanced in the Senate. From the beginning, GOP leaders in both chambers criticized the bill, with House Speaker Mike Johnson repeatedly calling it “dead on arrival.” Democrats accused conservatives of killing her for political purposes.
“Secure the international border and develop a program to bring people into this country legally,” Shelton told Fox News in an appeal to Congress. “We are a nation with the rule of law. We need to prevent people from even thinking they can enter the United States.”
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The bill would have given President Biden and the Department of Homeland Security the authority to close the border if migrant encounters reached a certain threshold and allocated $20 billion for immigration enforcement. It also included $650 million to build and strengthen the border wall.
But Republican critics, including House GOP leaders, said the legislation was not aggressive enough to curb illegal immigration as migrant crossings have risen dramatically under the Biden administration. In December, migrant encounters reached an all-time high of 302,000, according to Customs and Border Protection data.
As lawmakers stumble over solutions, the southern border crisis is worsening, Chilton said.
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“The problem in our area in the last three years has gotten dramatically worse,” Shelton told Fox News. He said hidden cameras on his property captured thousands of people entering the country illegally.
Some wear full camouflage, Shelton said, while others use “carpet boots” — shoes with a rug attached to the sole to hide footprints.
He added: “They enter our country without anyone seeing them, and they could be terrorists.”
Officials encountered 169 people on the FBI’s terrorism watch list crossing the southern border illegally in fiscal year 2023, according to CBP data. This is more than the previous year Setting the record 98 meetingsAnd the past six years combined.
“I’m really worried,” Shelton said. “If our adversaries around the world want to bring terrorists into our country, this is the way.”
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Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas denied blaming mass crossings at the southern border, he said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Instead, Mayorkas, who is expected to soon face a second impeachment bid for failing to curb the migrant crisis, blamed Republicans for sinking the bipartisan bill and said Congress must be held accountable for America’s broken immigration system.
The failed border security deal also included a $95 billion supplemental foreign aid package. A standalone bill, which includes $60 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel, and $8 billion for Taiwan, was voted in by 67 votes to 27 on Sunday.
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But Shelton told Fox News that keeping Americans safe should be lawmakers’ top priority.
“It would be disgraceful not to secure our borders first,” Chilton said. “Take care of America first. Close the borders.”
Ramiro Vargas contributed the accompanying video.