Ron Johnson rips Biden border policies, claims southern border is 'darn close to completely out of control'

Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, right, listens as Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, speaks during a presentation on immigration at the Federal Building in Milwaukee on Tuesday.
Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, right, listens as Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, speaks during a presentation on immigration at the Federal Building in Milwaukee on Tuesday.

Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said Tuesday that what he has seen at the nation's southern border is "profoundly disturbing," as he accused the Biden administration of creating an "open borders" policy.

"We had the border largely under control," Johnson said, a reference to actions taken while former President Donald Trump was in office.

"Now it's completely out of control or darn close to completely out of control," he added during a roundtable discussion on the border at the Federal Building in Milwaukee.

Johnson is running for a third term this fall and has sought to make border security a focus in the campaign.

The event took place as new numbers from the southern border were released this week. Border Patrol agents have made around 1.82 million arrests during the current fiscal year that runs from October to Sept. 30.

At the current rate, more than 2 million immigration arrests at the border are expected for the full fiscal year for the first time.

One factor that may be contributing to the surge is Title 42, a pandemic-related health order allowing border agents to expel migrants. The migrants may then be attempting to cross repeatedly. A federal court has blocked the Biden administration from scrapping the policy.

"People are coming here and completely taking advantage of our broken system," Johnson said.

A Biden administration official noted that "for the second month in a row, the number of total encounters at the southwest border is down. While numbers fluctuate month-to-month, this is the first two-month drop since October 2021."

The Biden administration official said steps taken to secure the border include "launching an aggressive campaign to combat the multi-billion dollar human smuggling industry," increased funding for the Department of Homeland Security and cutting "asylum processing times from years to months by putting in place dedicated immigration judges."

Johnson's event focused on a surge of migration and problems with human trafficking and illicit drugs. Johnson spoke of his own experiences touring the border, including meeting two little girls who were unaccompanied as they crossed into the United States.

Responding to the event, Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of the immigration rights group Voces de la Frontera accused Johnson of attempting "to align with Trump and the far right to try to peddle hate-mongering and division."

"We had a working asylum system," she said. "What the Trump era did was create this humanitarian crisis where people have been denied this right."

Johnson's panel focused on securing the border.

"Why are we not screaming as a nation?" said Mark Morgan, who served during the Trump administration as commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and harshly criticized the Biden administration as he called for the impeachment of Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Homeland Security secretary.

"It's not a right or left issue. It's an American issue. We have to secure our borders," Morgan said.

"What we’re doing today is not humane," said Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council. The union that represents around 18,000 Border Patrol agents endorsed Trump in 2016 and 2020.

After the event, the union announced it was endorsing Johnson in his reelection campaign against his Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

During the presentation, Johnson was also joined by three Wisconsin sheriffs and Lauri Badura, founder of Saving Others for Archie, named after her son who died of an accidental overdose.

"I feel like fentanyl is in everything," she said.

Law enforcement has accused Mexican cartels of manufacturing fentanyl and moving it illegally across the border to the United States.

"It is a crisis that affects us right here in northeast Wisconsin," said Ryan Waldschmidt, Fond du Lac County sheriff.

Waldschmidt said recent drug cases in his county have been traced back to Mexico. He said the problems at the border "are affecting everybody, all ages, all sexes, all Americans, all political affiliations."

Green Lake County Sheriff Mark Podell said he has been in the profession for 40 years and recalled decades ago when migrants would come to the area and leave after the harvest.

"Wisconsin is a border state," he said. "We're getting everything that comes through that open border."

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Ron Johnson rips Joe Biden border policies