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Guest Column

Time to Get the Job Done and Secure Our Southern Border

The lack of urgency from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address this crisis is frankly disturbing

By Jon Tester

When it’s seeding time on our farm, we seed. When it’s haying time, we put up the hay. And when it’s harvest time, we bring in the crop. We don’t sit around and hope that somebody else will do the job for us. We handle it the Montana way: rolling up our sleeves and getting to work.

That’s the kind of mentality that small business owners, farmers, ranchers, and hardworking Montanans all across our state bring to their jobs every single day. And it’s the type of mentality that my colleagues in Congress and President Joe Biden urgently need to bring to the table to secure our border.

Montanans know that what’s happening at our southern border right now is a serious problem, plain and simple. No matter your political beliefs, allowing anyone to enter the country without being properly vetted or going through a legal process undermines our national security. We know that drug cartels are taking advantage of these gaps in our border security to traffic drugs and people across the border. That needs to stop. For too long, Congress has kicked the can down the road on securing our southern border and some have even refused to fund it. It’s time to stop kicking and get the job done.

When I talk to Montana sheriffs and mayors in communities big and small, they all tell me that the situation at our southern border and the deadly fentanyl crisis are having disastrous impacts on the folks they’re sworn to protect. We can save lives by taking action now.

The stories of those impacted Montana families, local governments’ budgets that are stretched thin, and our national security are front of mind for me when I’ve told President Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas that what’s happening on our southern border is unacceptable. That is why I urged Senate leaders from both parties to prioritize a solution to the border crisis, one that I believe we should have stayed in Washington and worked over the holidays to solve. The lack of urgency from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address this crisis is frankly disturbing.

When I visited our southern border, I stood at a section of the wall near McAllen, Texas and spoke directly with Border Patrol agents who told me they need additional manpower and resources to get the job done. That’s why I’ve worked with Republicans and Democrats to introduce bipartisan legislation like my FEND Off Fentanyl Act and my ANTI Drugs Act. 

These bills would give law enforcement the tools and funds they need to tackle this crisis head on. But politicians who would rather score cheap political points and play politics with our border blocked our bipartisan efforts. It’s time for Congress to quit the political gamesmanship, put our shoulder to the wheel, and use common-sense proposals like the ones I’ve put forward, and others, to finally get a border deal done that protects our state and country.

Simply put, protecting our country by securing our southern border shouldn’t be a partisan issue – it’s an American issue. Montanans from all political stripes understand that the current systems in place are broken. They want to know why their elected leaders are so dysfunctional that they can’t seem to fix it.

My message to the President and my colleagues in Congress is simple: It’s time to stop pointing fingers, quit using the border as a political talking point, and roll up our sleeves. I’m committed to working with anyone, Republican or Democrat, to get a deal done that secures our borders and protects our state and our country.

Jon Tester is Democratic U.S. senator from Montana.

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