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By TIM SCOTT

Any American who has turned on their TV or glanced at a newspaper over the past few days and weeks knows that border security and maintaining our national sovereignty has been at the top of the news. This debate has raged on for years, for decades even. But as the matter at hand has become a crisis, the actions we take now are more important than ever.

National security has always been, and continues to be, one of our nation’s top priorities. Some may even argue national security is the highest duty a nation’s leaders are meant to ensure and protect. It is certainly one of the defining characteristics of any successful nation, and it is without question that national security would be impossible without border security.

Our border security issue has reached crisis levels. In Fiscal Year 2018, there were over 467,000 apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border. Claims of asylum are also up 2,000 percent in the last five years alone. In 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services processed roughly 100,000 credible fear claims, setting an all-time high record, but that is not all. A dramatic spike in drugs at the southern border, rising numbers of gang members, criminals and known or suspected terrorists, as well as a rise in vulnerable populations, have all brought different threats and issues into our country. Not only is national public security and safety threatened, but also so is our defense against the dangerous drugs that continue to help fuel our country’s opioid crisis.

I have always said our nation is a nation of compassion; however, we are also a nation of laws. Meaningful and complete immigration reform is impossible without a solution to our border security crisis. I hope we can all agree that Americans deserve better than our nation’s current broken immigration system. Simply put, this must become a priority, for the sake of us all.

As government funding has been so closely tied to this issue over the past few months, I would like to reiterate that keeping the government open is a good thing. However, my friends on the Democratic side of the aisle continue to ignore their responsibility to secure our borders and keep the American people safe. It is no secret that their hatred for our president now drives the policy-making decisions of those on the left, no matter how beneficial the policies are for families across the country. I support the president’s usage of a national emergency to take the responsible actions to secure our border, which must remain the top priority.

I believe the first step toward a solution is securing our border and fulfilling our duty to all Americans to provide a physically safe and economically prosperous country. Effective border security will help keep out criminal activity, terrorists, contraband, drugs and other public safety threats. Additionally, it will allow us finally to start making real and effective immigration system reforms. As over 800,000 cases sit in our country’s immigration court, it is obvious we are not able to effectively and efficiently grant asylum to those who truly need it or take up cases that have waited their fair share of time to have a chance at legally entering. The time is now, and it starts with securing our borders.

Tim Scott is a U.S. senator who represents South Carolina.

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