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AG Derek Schmidt: What I saw at the border and why it matters

Release Date: Feb 23, 2022

By Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt

America faces a crisis at our southwest border.

During 2021, authorities encountered about two million migrants at the border, up from fewer than 550,000 the year before, not counting those who eluded detection. That wave of humanity has overwhelmed border security, and that's a problem for Kansas.

Last month, I traveled to Texas to meet with Governor Greg Abbott and other Texas officials to see the border crisis myself. During a two-day summit with other state attorneys general, we saw:

  • The unfinished border wall, riddled with incomplete segments shockingly easy to walk through and around. Taxpayers have bought steel to build more, but it sits rusting in piles because the Biden administration will neither install it nor allow Texas to.
  • Front-line federal agents just trying to do their jobs. Unfortunately, our interaction with federal agents was limited because the evening before our arrival, their superiors in Washington abruptly canceled our briefings without explanation.
  • Dedicated Texas officers enforcing state laws near the unsecured border. They know the reality on the ground. They showed us which houses and other structures on the Mexican side are owned and used by the cartels and explained how cartels pay spotters – often children – to sit along the Rio Grande and report the location of patrol boats so smugglers know when the coast is clear.

In our proud nation of immigrants, emotional immigration politics too often obscure this tragic truth: There are more crime victims in Kansas today because the federal government is failing on border security.

During my time as attorney general, our office successfully prosecuted an illegal alien in Southeast Kansas who shot an Oklahoma police officer, kidnapped a Kansas motorist, invaded a Kansas residence, and attempted to murder a Kansas officer. In North Central Kansas, we prosecuted an illegal alien for sex crimes against a young child. And we prosecuted an illegal alien in Southwest Kansas for murder.

After the Kansas Supreme Court incorrectly ruled that federal law shielded certain illegal aliens from state identity theft laws, we appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. I argued that case myself, and we won.

These crimes are among many committed in Kansas by people here illegally. Much violent crime here is connected to the smuggling of drugs and people across the border. Deported criminals too often easily return to Kansas and commit new crimes. The Kansas Department of Corrections recently reported 246 inmates in Kansas prisons are subject to possible deportation upon release; county jails and federal prisons hold more.

Weak federal policy invites border chaos, and drug cartels and other criminal organizations use that chaos as cover to extend their operations in the United States, including Kansas. A bad situation has grown worse in the past year.

That’s why I’ve sued the Biden administration to do its job, such as reinstating the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” Migrant Protection Protocols. But the Biden administration has responded weakly even after a court order. Ultimately, we need new leadership to prioritize border security.

Until that day comes, our best available option is to cooperate with requests from Texas for assistance. We should help Texas identify, intercept and stop trans-border violence and criminal activity before it reaches Kansas because Texas still stands between us and the border. Our families and communities will be safer for it.


Photo of AG Schmidt at the U.S.-Mexico border available at https://bit.ly/34Tg42d.

Photo caption:

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt speaks with a Texas law enforcement officer regarding the immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. Schmidt joined attorneys general from across the United States to visit the border and see the impact of current U.S. immigration policies.

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News releases issued prior to 2011 are available through an archive hosted by the Kansas State Library.