Nine Republican senators sent a barbed letter to the Biden administration that shined a spotlight on the current border crisis, and claimed President Joe Biden was largely responsible for the recent immigration surge.
The letter is led by Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and signed by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Kennedy (R-La.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
"Regardless of what the Biden Administration wants to call this current set of circumstances it has created, this surge in illegal immigration carries significant risks," the letter reads. "It also imposes a heavy burden on public resources. Congress and the American people must have additional clarity about how DHS and HHS are addressing it."
The letter highlights how Biden's rhetoric and promises during the campaign fueled the current immigration crisis.
"During the presidential transition, then-President elect Biden made it clear that once in office, he would immediately begin rolling back immigration policies put in place to curtail illegal immigration, ensure careful vetting of asylum applicants, and protect U.S. national security interests," the GOP senators wrote. "In keeping with this agenda, since January 20, President Biden and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have been aggressively reversing previous policies and replacing them with lax border security and enforcement policies that encourage immigrants to illegally migrate to the United States."
The senators reference Biden's "sweeping immigration proposal that, if passed, would grant mass amnesty with no strings attached to millions of illegal immigrants in the United States." The Republicans note that the promise of citizenship combined with "no effort whatsoever to secure the southern border" has incentivized a massive surge in illegal immigration to the United States.
"Not surprisingly, these changes have been taken by many in Central and South America as an open invitation to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border with an expectation that arriving in the near future could mean an easy path to U.S. citizenship," the letter states.
"Smugglers have been recruiting increasingly large groups of as many as 1,000 or more people to bring across the border, encouraging them to make the trip on the basis that the Biden Administration is easier on illegal immigration than past administrations," the senators wrote.
The letter then presented "staggering" illegal immigration statistics to enunciate the severity of the crisis on the U.S. southern border.
- "According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), nearly 78,000 people were detained or arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border in January 2021.6 That was the highest number recorded for the month of January at any point during the last decade, and those numbers have only continued to climb."
- "CBP has now confirmed that it encountered over 100,000 migrants at the southern border in February. That's the highest number for the month of February since 2006."
- "During the first week of March, there were several days when U.S. agents apprehended more than 4,000 migrants per day."
- "There also has been a drastic increase in the number of border crossings by unaccompanied alien children (UAC)."
- "DHS personnel encountered more than 5,800 at the southwest land border in January. That was about 90% higher than the number DHS personnel encountered at the southwest border during the same month last year."
- "As of the first week of March, unaccompanied minors were crossing the border at a rate of about 350 per day, or about four times the rate recorded in fall 2020."
The letter also addressed the concerning spike of unaccompanied children attempting to cross the border. The senators pointed out that the Biden administration enacted a policy of no longer expelling minors under the age of 18, and instead, the children must be sent to a Department of Health and Human Services facility within 72 hours. The new policy likely "offered a fresh incentive for families to send their children on the extremely dangerous journey to cross the border alone."
The senators questioned the surprise decision to house "as many as 3,000 unaccompanied immigrant boys aged 15-17" for up to three months at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas.
"The city of Midland was blindsided by the news. Midland Mayor Patrick Payton, who was not even consulted or notified in advance, described the sudden arrival of the migrants as 'the strangest, most backward, disrespectful thing [he recalls seeing]… in a very long time.," the letter says.
The letter, which is addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, demanded answers to 14 questions regarding the immigration crisis.
The GOP senators want to know how many migrants has CBP encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border since Biden's inauguration, questions about migrants with COVID-19, how the DHS will protect Americans from a coronavirus outbreak from the migrant surge, how many migrants does DHS currently project will cross the border this year, and the operating costs to handle the enormous influx. The senators want the questions answered by no later than April 2.