“He might not have been here had we had secure borders.” That’s what Jason Riley said about the man who murdered his 22-year old daughter, Laken, in February while she was jogging near her college campus in Georgia.

Jason Riley is absolutely right. Laken’s suspected murderer entered our country illegally through El Paso, Texas, in 2022. Months before he brutally murdered this innocent 22-year-old girl, he was arrested in New York for child endangerment and released instead of being deported.

The system completely failed Laken Riley. And stories like hers are becoming far too familiar in America thanks to the open border policies of President Joe Biden and failed leaders in Washington.

While President Biden may try to deflect and blame others, we all remember the 2020 Democratic presidential primary debates when he and many of his fellow Democratic candidates raised their hands in support of policies such as free health care for immigrants who enter the country illegally and even decriminalizing crossing into our southern border.

In his first 100 days in office, Biden signed 94 executive orders on immigration and border policies, many of which weakened former President Donald Trump’s border policies. On his first day in office alone, Biden signed an executive order to pause border wall construction, roll back immigration enforcement within the United States, and freeze any deportations. Liberal states like California have followed by offering additional incentives like free health care for immigrants who enter illegally. Washington, D.C., has moved to allow these immigrants to vote. In New York, they have been given free prepaid debit cards for food and groceries, as well as free hotel rooms in one of the most expensive cities in the country.

Tie those moves together and it’s no surprise that we’re seeing a full-blown crisis at our southern border.

According to the Customs and Border Protection, there have been a record-shattering 7.5 million border encounters in the last four fiscal years alone. According to the House Homeland Security Committee, CBP sources confirmed that since Biden took office, there have been more than 1.7 million known “gotaways,” or subjects at our southwest border who were not turned back or apprehended and are no longer being pursued by USBP agents. In a single year (fiscal year 2023), CBP arrested 35,433 illegally entering immigrants with criminal convictions, including 598 gang members, specifically 178 MS-13 members, and 294 people on the terror watchlist. And just last year, they seized 27,293 pounds of fentanyl, enough to kill around 6 billion people. That’s billion with a B.

We see the catastrophic effects of these problems here in Utah. On Feb. 29, two Honduran nationals who were in the United States illegally were arrested in Magna and West Valley City after police found them in possession of 50,000 fentanyl pills and $20,000 in cash from drug trafficking. From 2018 to 2021, 469,870 doses of fentanyl were seized by Utah law enforcement. In 2022, Utah law enforcement seized nearly 1.5 million doses, more than double what had been seized in the four previous years combined, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety. The Department made clear that the flow of fentanyl stems from criminal groups and drug cartels in Mexico.

This raging border crisis and the long stream of consequences, challenges and tragedies that have flowed from it were not only preventable, but in many ways, it feels like it was all intentional.

My plan to fix the southern border is actually quite simple: Close the border, finish the wall, find out who is here illegally and restore order to our immigration system.

First, we have to actually close and secure the southern border. This must be accomplished both by physical barriers that reduce crossings, including the border wall everyone knows is necessary, but also by increasing the number of Border Patrol agents, empowering the border states and their National Guard units to do their jobs and, where necessary, sending in military to provide additional support. Closing the border and enforcing closure for an extended period of time will substantially decrease traffic and opportunity for the coyotes, traffickers and organizations that have facilitated a great deal of the traffic across our southern border these past few years.

One of my opponents previously said the border wall is a symbol of pent-up racism and walked back his support on ending sanctuary cities. The last thing we need are candidates who won’t commit to keeping our country safe. I’ll be the fighter who will actually stand up for these policies in the United States Senate.

Second, with an estimated 2 million known “gotaways” in the country from the time Biden took office, we need an inventory of who is currently in our country. If Customs and Border Patrol arrested more than 35,000 people with criminal records and 294 people on the terror watch list attempting to enter our country in a single year, how many have they missed over the last three years? Those who have been convicted of crimes should be the first to be deported. Those who don’t qualify for visas or the legal immigration system should be returned to their home countries to wait in line behind those who are working hard and taking the time to immigrate to our country legally. We must restore the rule of law to the immigration system.

For far too long, Washington politicians have treated border policy as the third rail of politics and hidden from pursuing real meaningful solutions. But Biden’s open border policies are as inhumane to those who risk, and in many cases lose, their lives crossing, as they are to the millions working hard to come through the system the right way. Utah deserves a senator who will go to Washington and fight to be a part of solutions that restore safety to Utah and to our nation by finally securing our southern border.

Brad Wilson is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.