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Tennessee and Texas are performing because Biden failed

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Illegal immigration places significant strain on local resources to provide services such as housing, education and healthcare.

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  • Rep. Rusty Grills, R-Newbern, represents District 77 in the Tennessee House of Representatives, which includes Dyer, Lake and parts of Obion counties.

As Americans, we are so fortunate to live in the most hopeful and free society the world has ever seen.

We are a nation of people who value the freedom to build a better life for ourselves and our families. And we are proud of our tradition of embracing others who wish to come here legally to pursue these goals.

Today, under the leadership of President Joe Biden, we have lost our minds when it comes to illegal immigration. Never has a president so willfully undermined the security of Americans by refusing to enforce our laws.

Just a month after President Biden took office, the number of encounters along the Mexican border increased by nearly 30%. And just last December, illegal border crossings reached a record high.

Counterpoint: Gov. Bill Lee defies Tennessee's famed hospitality by supporting Texas' strict border policies

Biden’s immigration policy is “reckless”

More than 2.4 million encounters occurred on our nation's southwest border during a 12-month period ending in 2023. According to a report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the cost of illegal immigration represented a staggering $151 billion in burdens on taxpayers in 2023).

The government's ruthless policies continue to be exploited by drug cartels and people smugglers.

Here in the Volunteer State, the West Tennessee Drug Task Force seized 85 pounds of fentanyl on Interstate 40 in Haywood County on March 10 – enough to kill 19 million people. That same week, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) arrested two undocumented immigrants in Nashville on suspicion of human trafficking.

And in Georgia, a 22-year-old nursing student was kidnapped and brutally murdered by a suspect who wasn't supposed to be in the country. Undoubtedly, these crimes were made possible by our open borders policy.

The Supreme Court rightly ruled in favor of Texas

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, this man-made crisis has resulted in record-breaking apprehensions of illegal border crossings, migrant deaths, drug seizures and suspected terrorists attempting to enter the country.

I witnessed this disaster firsthand when I visited the Texas border last summer. I was struck by the frustration of a certain border official who said that all it took was a call from the White House and he could do his job effectively.

Encouraging news came on March 19 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas law enforcement officials could allow the detention and prosecution of migrants suspected of crossing the border illegally. Iowa is currently considering a law that would allow similar measures.

We are either a nation of laws or a nation without law. Until our federal government secures our southern border, states must join with Texas in taking the necessary steps to deter illegal immigration. Here in Tennessee, we will ensure that the Volunteer State is not a prime destination for illegals.

More: Tennessee lawmakers just passed an immigration bill: Here's what it means

Local authorities should communicate with immigration officials

That's why this year I filed House Bill 2124 to combat illegal immigration here at home.

This legislation ensures that law enforcement agencies in our state notify appropriate federal authorities if someone they come into contact with is determined to be in the country illegally. We will support law enforcement at all levels in communicating and cooperating with ICE.

Illegal immigration places significant strain on local resources to provide services such as housing, education and healthcare. Although these burdens affect the smallest and poorest the most, they are not the only ones.

New York City's mayor recently admitted that the refugee crisis would “destroy” the nation's largest city if the federal government didn't adequately address it. The city expects to spend $12 billion over the next three years on services for recently arrived illegal immigrants.

The federal government must act now to ensure and complete construction of the southern border wall. Until then, my Republican colleagues and I in the General Assembly will continue to support measures that prevent illegal immigration in Tennessee and protect communities from its devastating consequences.

Rep. Rusty Grills, R-Newbern, represents District 77 in the Tennessee House of Representatives, which includes Dyer, Lake and parts of Obion counties.