There is an old saying in the Border Patrol that with these tools, an agent can fix just about anything. We patrol rugged and remote areas, and we have long relied on our own ingenuity to communicate, fix equipment and even build early versions of border barriers and technology. But Border Patrol ingenuity alone cannot address the border security and humanitarian crisis we've been facing this past year.
I joined the Border Patrol 25 years ago because of my strong belief in our border security mission. Our mission is to address all threats at our border, to stop everyone and everything from crossing between authorized points of entry. The threat of transnational criminal organizations is ever-present as they smuggle drugs, weapons, cash and people in support of their criminal enterprises. Through generations of experience, Border Patrol developed a set of tools to address cross-border illegal activity: technology to give us awareness of illegal activity, physical barriers to slow or stop it and agents to respond and make an arrest. In my 25-year career, I've personally seen these tools deliver true border security results in
places like Douglas and Yuma, Arizona and El Paso, Texas.
Without a doubt, the current crisis has been unlike anything Border Patrol has faced in our 95-year history. Last fiscal year, agents apprehended more than 850,000 people along the southern border. For the first time in our history, 321,000 of those apprehensions were children. Smuggling organizations profited from illegal immigration like never before, leveraging our outdated immigration system to advertise "bring a child and you will be released."