The confusion and tragedy brought about by President Biden’s disastrous withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan last August have faded from the front page. Still, the national security risks this administration brought back to our homeland from Afghanistan loom large.
President Biden failed to evacuate every American citizen from the Taliban’s clutches or provide a path to safety for the Special Immigrant Visa holders and Afghan allies who provided aid and fought alongside our military. Instead, the president directed an airlift of over 124,000 Afghan nationals out of the country. Upon arrival in the United States, the Biden administration waived the standard interagency process for vetting and resettlement, allowing thousands of not fully vetted Afghans to resettle across the United States.
In Wisconsin this September, two evacuees were accused of separate assault crimes. These are devastating crimes that should never have happened on U.S. soil.
Beyond the fall of Afghanistan, immigration to our country in all forms continues to increase sharply under the Biden administration. More than 1.8 million illegal immigrants were identified along the U.S.-Mexico border in the 2021 fiscal year, quadrupling 2020 totals and the highest annual total on record. Border security is national security, and protecting the American people should always be the highest priority for any administration.
Today, America is burdened with a president and an administration that promotes open border policies and refuses to enforce our laws, which in turn empowers and enriches drug cartels and human traffickers. The undue stress this administration put on our immigration system revealed a significant gap in 2021.
Sexual assault and other forms of aggravated sexual violence are not deportable under current U.S. immigration law. Sexual violence persists across the American immigration system, including sex trafficking, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation. Immigrant women have significantly increased vulnerability to recurring sexual assault, particularly school-age immigrant girls, who are far more likely to have experienced recurring incidents of sexual assault than their non-immigrant peers.
In October 2021, a young woman riding a commuter train in Philadelphia was raped by an illegal immigrant while numerous passengers stood by watching and filming on their cell phones. The rapist had been illegally living in the U.S. since his student visa was terminated in 2015 and continued to rack up sex abuse charges on his criminal record. Yet, a judge ruled the sexual abuse charge against this illegal immigrant was not severe enough to warrant deportation.
How many more victims must lose their lives or have their dignity ripped from them because prior crimes committed by illegal immigrants weren’t "serious enough" to warrant deportation?
Border security is national security, and protecting the American people should always be the highest priority for any administration.
We’ve partnered on a bill, the Better Enforcement of Grievous Offenses by unNaturalized Emigrants (BE GONE) Act, which will include sexual assault and other forms of aggravated sexual violence as disqualifying crimes for immigrants seeking residence in the United States, and as deportable offenses for immigrants already living in the U.S. The BE GONE Act also ensures those convicted of sexual assault have no grounds for appeal or applications for stays on deportation orders. It should be simple: sexual predators should be blocked from entry into our country or deported if they have already crossed the border.
"A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation." Those words are a very simple yet powerful reminder from President Reagan about the fundamental need for our country to have secure, reliable borders to manage our destiny. While President Biden and a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party may turn a blind eye to the crisis at our border and in our communities, we should all agree to protect the vulnerable in our nation by ensuring violent sexual predators are identified, stopped, and deported.
As the Biden administration’s border crisis continues to rage on and endanger the lives of the American people, we’re calling on the president and our colleagues in Congress to pass and sign into law our bipartisan BE GONE Act – an easy, commonsense solution to keep violent sexual criminals out of our neighborhoods.
Republican Joni Ernst represents Iowa in the United States Senate. She is the first female combat veteran elected to the Senate and a former commander in the Iowa Army National Guard and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Click HERE to read the op-ed as published in Fox News.