By Margarita Wilkinson, Candidate for Congress CA49
The crisis along our southern border has been a political football for decades and as Californians continue to plead for stronger border security from our federal government, the problem has only gotten worse.
This is not a matter of opinion – this is a matter of fact. And while it’s no longer fashionable to use data to make policy decisions (merely feelings), we must confront the facts.
Since Democrat Congressman Mike Levin was elected in 2018, U.S. border enforcement actions have increased over 400%. Over those five years, more than 7 million people have illegally crossed our border. Border security is exclusively the responsibility of the federal government and Levin has received a disappointing “F” grade from NumbersUSA, a leading immigration reform organization. On an issue critical to our region, and to our nation’s national security, he’s earned a mere 12%.
Today, fentanyl is the number one killer of Americans ages 18-45 and our southern border is the pipeline. Fentanyl is flooding our communities and there is now enough to kill every man, woman, and child in the country. But it would be a mistake to blame that on immigrants – it is the work of criminals. In fact, it is estimated that as much as 80% of the border is controlled by the cartels. Our porous borders provide too many opportunities for criminal organizations to smuggle it into the country, and that demands our government’s full attention.
San Diego ranks 14th in the nation for human trafficking, with an estimated 8,000 victims in the San Diego alone. Traffickers come from both sides of the border and often use social media to reach and deceive children into slavery. The stories are heart-breaking and these risks to our innocent children demands our government’s full attention.
The number of people entering the country illegally is unstainable and is no longer a regional problem. Big cities and even rural communities are seeing a surge in illegal immigration, often overwhelming local service providers. This past week, Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams declared that the migrant crisis “will destroy” the city, as it stretches services to the breaking point, and is contributing to a historic $12 billion budget deficit.
There are more than 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. with one quarter of them in California. When Mike Levin was elected, there were just 400,000 apprehensions and expulsions, in 2022 it skyrocketed to more than 2.2 million.
The migrants are overwhelming homeless shelters, acerbating the problem even more, something we are seeing here in Southern California as well, where homelessness has increased 21% on Levin’s watch. The impact on our communities demands the federal government’s full attention.
Tens of thousands of Americans and Mexicans depend on the border. Whether they live on one side and work on the other, cross to attend school, have family, or a business that depends on the flow of goods back and forth, these law-abiding citizens are the real victims of the federal government’s failures.
I was born in Mexico and came to this country legally, as a resident alien, earning my citizenship as an adult. That day was the proudest day of my life. But I understood there were rules to becoming an American citizen and they allowed me to move here, attend school, and earn that citizenship. These rules should apply to everyone, and they should be enforced because the lawlessness is killing Americans – and Mexicans – and making the situation even worse for those live and work along the border.
I’ve never taken the opportunities America has given me for granted and now, I’m running for Congress because I want to fight for the values that make us the most exceptional nation on earth. I believe in the country that gave me an opportunity. I know the American Dream because I’ve lived the American Dream, and I want to protect that for every American and future American.
Margarita Wilkinson is a Republican candidate for the 49th Congressional District. She is the Senior Vice President and General Manager overseeing Univision San Diego and affiliates in Tijuana.
Margarita has been a civic and philanthropic leader throughout her career, currently serving on the boards of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, The Old Globe Theater, and the Lincoln Club of San Diego, and previously serving on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Red Cross, San Diego Symphony, and ONE San Diego.