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North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley recently warned that illegal immigration flowing through the northern U.S. border has been accelerating under the Biden administration and is expected to continue, with the situation expected to worsen. Wrigley testified at a field hearing held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement, highlighting the impact of illegal crossings on North Dakota’s residents and communities. He expressed concerns about the negative impacts on law enforcement, both in terms of street crimes and violence, as well as national security.

North Dakota is home to 18 land ports of entry along its 310-mile portion of the U.S.’s 5,525-mile northern border, with only three of those ports open 24 hours per day. Wrigley reported a significant increase in migrant encounters, with 4,444 encounters in fiscal year 2023, compared to 2,127 in fiscal year 2022 and 548 in fiscal year 2021. These encounters include apprehensions of illegal attempts to cross the border, inadmissible individuals, and expulsions. Wrigley also highlighted the difference in drug prices between the northern and southern borders, with fentanyl and synthetic opioids often available for significantly lower prices at the southwest border compared to North Dakota, where one pill can cost between $60 and $80.

Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner also testified about the impact of increased migration on his region, including changes in communities related to narcotics trafficking, overdoses, mental health- and addiction-related crimes, and homelessness. Jahner emphasized that these effects are straining public safety infrastructure, including mental health and addiction services, and incarceration capacity. Other lawmakers from Minnesota and Pennsylvania participated in the hearing, expressing concerns about the need for policy changes to address the border crisis. Minnesota Representative Michelle Fischbach highlighted the need to return to previous border policies, citing President Biden’s opportunity to make changes, while Pennsylvania Representative Mike Kelly emphasized the record illegal immigration and drug smuggling faced by the northern border under the current administration.

Kelly, the co-chair of the Northern Border Security Caucus, noted the drastic increase in northern land border encounters since January 2021 and the high percentage of terror watchlist suspects entering the U.S. through land border ports of entry at the northern border. He criticized President Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for failing to address the situation, describing their actions as a dereliction of duty that has turned every state into a border state. The hearing shed light on the urgent need for policy changes to address the challenges faced by northern border states due to increased illegal immigration and drug trafficking, and to enhance national security measures to protect communities from these threats.

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