(Editor’s note: This column was originally released Saturday afternoon, prior to President Biden’s visit to Texas)

After almost two years in office, President Biden has said he is finally going to visit our southern border. This checks a box, but it doesn’t even begin to solve the problems we are facing there.

Visiting El Paso, Texas is one thing, but it’s another to actually see the thousands of people gathered on the other side of the southern border waiting to cross into the country illegally. It’s unclear if the president even has plans to witness this.

But, before we can even address that, it can’ be ignored how remarkable it is to think about how long it has taken the president to even visit the southern border.

The president neglecting to visit the southern border–during a time when we are facing record illegal crossings and there is a clear crisis–would be the equivalent of our commander-in-chief not visiting the Pentagon during a military operation, not going to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) during the COVID-19 pandemic, or not assessing the damage after a natural disaster, just to name a few.

That is the scope of this problem, which this president has so far ignored. It’s hard to imagine this crisis being ignored when you look at the stories, pictures, and numbers that have been widely shown and reported by the media over the past several months.

During President Biden’s visit, I’m certain he will blame Congress for inaction on immigration reform. This is a standard line of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. I too have said we need to address this issue, but I wonder if the Biden administration fully realizes just how difficult they have made addressing true immigration reform when they have failed to conduct one of the most critical aspects of our system, which is securing our southern border from the onslaught of illegal migrants.

The flood of illegals, which has exceeded 2.5 million in calendar year 2022, has strained our entire system at the federal, state, and local level. This is not only a Texas and Arizona problem. Just ask the Democrat mayors of Denver, New York City, and Washington, D.C. why they are focused on the border crisis as much as the Governor of Texas. Or why a U.S. Senator from West Virginia worries about the illicit drugs that are spreading across our region because of the continued flow into our country. Fentanyl’s seizures are up 44%, unfortunately because there is more fentanyl to seize.

The strain at our southern border is impacting the effectiveness and operations across our entire Homeland Security apparatus, and it is unsustainable.

The numbers do not lie, and they are staggering. However, it’s even beyond the numbers. Just look at the trends.

We use the phrase “highest month since” seemingly every single month. Average encounters per month for Fiscal Years (FY) 2013-2020 were 45,000, while the average encounters per month for the Biden administration is 200,000.

As migrants pour in, we fail to remove those who have escaped into the interior of our country. Last year, we removed only 78,000 people, and the percentage of those that were removed dropped from 53% in FY21 to 39% in FY22.

I’ve been to the southern border several times, including to El Paso where the president will be going. I’ve seen the wall and physical barriers, I’ve visited the processing centers and family units, and I’ve seen firsthand the hastily erected soft-sided facilities. I’ve also talked with the men and women tasked with trying to maintain order there. The strain on these individuals, and their families, is too-often overlooked in this crisis.

My message to President Biden is this: I hope your visit sparks the realization by you and your administration that until we get these numbers down, we cannot have any serious conversations about immigration reform.

(Capito is a member of the U.S. Senate, representing West Virginia)