Kansas AG: ‘Nothing surprising’ about what’s happening at southern border

(The Center Square) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt joined other Republican attorneys general at a two-day border summit in Texas calling on the Biden administration to follow immigration laws passed by Congress instead of implementing policies that circumvent them.

“Like most things in life, there’s a right way and a wrong way to deal with the migration of people who wish to enter the U.S.,” Schmidt told The Center Square.

“Lawful migration helps bring additional workers who are wanted and needed in our communities, people with skills, with a good heart, people who want to be Americans and cherish our form of government. That’s always been welcomed in the U.S., and still is,” he said. “The problem today is there’s been abandonment of this fundamental idea that the U.S. must secure the border and control who comes in and out by the Biden administration. We’ve seen that here in South Texas.”

Schmidt added that “there’s nothing surprising” about what he witnessed while in Texas “when the federal government abdicates its responsibility to control migration in and out of the country. Not surprisingly, there’s always a group of bad actors who want to use immigration as a guise to enter the U.S. to do things that are unlawful and harmful.

“Every state is now a border state because of that. That includes Kansas,” he said. One consequence of illegal immigration for Kansans is increased crime, he added.

“We’ve prosecuted individuals who’ve come to this country for the purpose of running drugs, participating in criminal enterprises, who’ve committed murder and terrible offenses on children,” he said.

Some of these crimes were preventable, he added, “if our government would just help us instead of wholly abandoning its responsibility to enforce access and egress in our country at the border. Texas has stepped up and is trying to stand in the gap as best as it can that’s left by the federal government’s withdrawal.”

Last March, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott created Operation Lone Star, which among other things directed state troopers to help thwart criminal activity along the southern border. He and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey also launched an interstate compact asking other governors to send help and resources as their states were being overrun by crime stemming from the Biden administration’s open border policies.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was the first to send help. Schmidt called on Gov. Laura Kelly to also send help, but she declined.

Schmidt’s challenging Kelly, a Democrat running for reelection. He says Kansans can “do better” and her characterization of the governors’ requests and situation at the border was “terribly glib and not true.”

At a governors’ border summit in Mission, Texas, last October, National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said it “would have been nice” if Democratic governors visited Texas to witness the border crisis for themselves. Kelly came under fire by lawmakers and Schmidt for her response even after it was revealed that Kansas National Guardsmen and women had been at the border, but not because of an order Kelly gave.

Her spokesperson told KSNT News 4 at the time that Kansas had nearly 250 guard members “deployed to the border since October 2020 supporting Customs and Border Protection,” adding that “both Republicans and Democrats in Washington have failed to address the problems within our immigration system for decades. We need true reform in a way that protects the border and allows us to continue to grow our economy here in Kansas, not publicity stunts that use our service members as political props.”

Kansas troops had been deployed under the Trump administration to serve a year-long mission that ended in October 2021, Brig. Gen. Anthony Mohatt said. The Kansas City Star noted that the deployment “wasn’t publicized by the Kelly administration,” although it “had announced deployments last year to Louisiana for hurricane response and within Kansas in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Schmidt had asked Kelly to send troops that was “enough to be substantively helpful or at least enough to show symbolic solidarity with our friends in Texas who are trying their best to stop criminal actors here before they reach the interior,” he told The Center Square.

If he were governor he would have sent help, he said, which is also why he joined other AGs to collaborate on what they could do to secure the southern border. Schmidt also previously joined AGs in calling on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to take action against China and Mexico for facilitating the illicit flow of drugs into the U.S. through the southern border. He’s also supported the efforts of Texas in lawsuits against the Biden administration, which it’s now sued nine times over border and immigration, and 20 times overall.

Schmidt visited portions of the unfinished wall nearly completed by former President Donald Trump, describing “piles of materials we saw that were left on the ground that taxpayers paid for that the federal government owns and won’t let the state of Texas purchase in order to continue construction.” He also spoke with state and federal law enforcement officials working in border communities.

Blinken and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas have argued that the administration’s immigration policies are more humane, responsible and better “address the challenges of irregular migration throughout North and Central America.”

Biden hasn’t visited the southern border since he’s been in office and began reversing Trump-era policies on his first day in office. They include drastically changing deportation and Title 42 parameters, halting construction of the border wall and reinstating the Central American Minors program, over which Texas and seven other states most recently sued, among others.

Nearly 2 million people were interdicted by Customs and Border Protection agents entering the U.S. illegally in Biden’s first year in office. The number excludes an estimated several hundred thousand “got-aways” who evaded capture as they headed north to other states including Kansas.

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