Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
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'You just can't say, "Yeah, yeah, let everybody in"'
A Democratic lawmaker representing a district along the U.S.-Mexico border called out the Biden administration's open-borders immigration policy over the weekend, citing several harmful consequences a border surge could have on American communities.
What are the details?
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told Axios on Saturday that the new administration's more lax illegal immigration enforcement measures could end up hurting American businesses, emboldening drug cartels, and leading to greater spread of the coronavirus, overwhelming local hospitals.
"You just can't say, 'Yeah, yeah, let everybody in' — because then we're affected down there at the border," Cuellar told the news outlet.
Cuellar reportedly expressed concerns that smugglers and bad actors would use the shift in immigration policy to expand their dangerous and illegal operations.
"The bad guys know how to market this," Cuellar said.
He added that a flood of new migrants could also result in COVID-19 outbreaks too large for local hospitals to handle, noting that several of the illegal immigrants are being allowed into the country without receiving COVID-19 tests, which puts the non-governmental organizations providing them with care at risk.
The Democratic lawmaker urged the Biden administration, so long as the pandemic is ongoing, to continue using a Trump-era public health order, known as Title 42, to quickly expel migrant adults and families.
According to Axios, Cuellar also "complained about a contradiction between releasing some unauthorized immigrants into border communities while keeping legal, cross-border travel closed."
He noted that many of the local businesses in border districts depend on Mexican shoppers for 50% to 75% of their sales.
The Biden administration's bungled implementation of new immigration polices and rollback of Trump-era policies have led to a crisis at the country's southern border, as scores of new migrants are flooding into the U.S. expecting lenient treatment.
"We need to prepare for border surges now," new Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief of staff Timothy Perry wrote in a recent email to agency leadership. "We need to begin making changes immediately. We should privilege action over cost considerations; do what is needed, and the department will work on funding afterward."
In response to the influx of border crossings, Biden has already elected to reopen a migrant children housing facility — the likes of which he condemned during Trump's presidency — and now immigration authorities are expecting thousands more unaccompanied children to flood into the country in the coming months.
To avoid opening more housing facilities, the Biden administration has authorized officials to purchase plane tickets and fly certain illegal immigrant minors to their relatives' residences in the U.S.
In the meantime, the administration is trying to ward off new migrants to de-escalate the situation that it created.
"This is not the time to come," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last Tuesday during a press briefing. "We have not had the time to put in place an immigration system, an immigration policy. We don't have the processing we need at the border."
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