Sen. David Perdue of Georgia said he was “not prepared” for the explosion in drug trafficking that he learned about during a recent visit to the U.S. border with Mexico.
“I saw something that I was not expecting,” the Republican lawmaker told The Western Journal at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside of Washington, D.C., late last week.
“I expected to see the human trafficking, and we saw that with (Border) Patrol overnight,” Perdue said. “What I was not prepared for was the size and scope and how dramatically the drug trafficking has grown.”
He said that there has been an “explosion” in drug trafficking in the McAllen, Texas, area, where he visited.
The senator said seizures of fentanyl are up 73 percent from a year ago and methamphetamine is also flowing through the border at high levels.
“This is a drug crisis of gargantuan proportion,” Perdue said.
He said Mexican cartels use human trafficking as a “distraction” to tie up Border Patrol agents, making it easier for drug traffickers to slip through.
NBC News reported the number of migrants crossing into the U.S. hit a 12-year-high for the month of February at 76,100.
Since the beginning of the fiscal year in October, Border Patrol has apprehended over 268,000 individuals entering in the country, a 97 percent increase over the same period in the previous year, according to the White House.
Cartels are thought to make about $2 billion in human trafficking, while trafficking drugs nets over $30 billion, Perdue said.
The senator related there is no doubt in his mind that what is happening at the border is a crisis, noting that is how former President Barack Obama described it, as well.
Perdue said 135 miles of barriers were built along the southern border while Obama was in office.
President Donald Trump has 124 miles under construction and improvement to existing barriers underway, and Congress just authorized 55 miles of new construction, Perdue said.
About 650 miles of the 1,954-mile border are covered with barriers of various forms, including 374 miles of pedestrian fencing, CNN reported.
Perdue said there’s no question that walls work.
“We know that where you build walls, illegal activity drops by 95 percent,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday he anticipates enough Republican senators will join with Democrats to pass a resolution seeking to block President Donald Trump’s border wall funding emergency declaration, according to The Hill.
“I think what is clear in the Senate is that there will be enough votes to pass the resolution of disapproval, which will then be vetoed by the president and then in all likelihood the veto will be upheld in the House,” McConnell told reporters in Kentucky.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky have all said they will vote for a resolution of disapproval, clinching the 51 senators needed.
The resolution of disapproval passed the Democrat-controlled House last week.
Trump has the veto power, which would require a two-thirds vote in both chambers to override him.
In addition to the $1.375 billion Congress voted to authorize for barrier funding, the White House plans to redirect $3.6 billion from a military construction fund, $2.5 billion from a Department of Defense drug interdiction program and $600 million from the Treasury Department from a drug forfeiture fund.
The national emergency is specifically being used to tap the $3.6 billion from the military construction fund.
Politico reported that Trump expressed confidence on Friday that if he vetoed the measure, it would not be overridden.
“We have too many smart people that want border security so I can’t imagine it (the resolution) will survive a veto,” Trump said.