'The brink of a huge humanitarian crisis': 52 House Republicans tell Biden to take border crisis seriously
More than 50 House Republicans accused President Biden of treating the United States-Mexico border as a "political game" for implementing softer immigration policies as apprehensions of illegal immigrants tick up to "crisis" levels.
In a letter sent to Biden on Tuesday, Rep. Chip Roy of Texas and 51 of his colleagues said the rising number of people arriving at the southern border in recent months indicates the country is "on the brink of a huge humanitarian crisis" that endangers both migrants and Border Patrol.
"It is concerning to see your administration perceives our border security issues as a political game instead of the very serious threat open borders provide to Americans and the migrants seeking to come here," the letter states. "This is not a political game — we implore you not let ideology blind your Administration to the need to secure the border, to defend Americans, and to prevent another cartel-empowering humanitarian crisis."
The group asked Biden to direct Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to brief all 435 House lawmakers on the rapidly developing situation.
Lawmakers who signed onto the letter include House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Rep. Yvette Herrell, whose district encompasses the entire New Mexico border with Mexico.
Arrests at the southern border began rising in April, after a border initiative known as Title 42 went into action. Title 42 allowed Border Patrol agents to turn around anyone encountered sneaking in instead of taking them into custody and detaining them, where the risk of spreading the coronavirus would be high. However, because most people caught illegally crossing the border are not being detained, they cannot be prosecuted, allowing people to try and try again.
Monthly apprehensions at the border dropped to 17,000 in March as Title 42 went into effect but has increased monthly and hit 70,000 apprehensions in December. January statistics have not been released, though former Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan told the Washington Examiner last week that approximately 3,000 people were being apprehended daily during a three-week period in January, which would put agents on track to have apprehended 90,000 people last month.
House Republicans blamed the rise through the fall and winter on Biden's "anticipated policies," including promises to push for a pathway to citizenship for 11 million immigrants illegally residing in the U.S, halting former President Donald Trump's border wall projects, and stopping deportations nationwide for 100 days.
"Despite these rising numbers, on your first day as president, you signed multiple executive orders (EO) aimed at dismantling the security of our borders — rescinding policies from the Trump administration that were working as intended to halt the flow of illegal migration," the letter states, adding that the administration's early moves on immigration signaled to the world "that our borders are open."
"The fundamental responsibility of the federal government is to protect America, not to ignore the law and to actively encourage, incentivize, and facilitate illegal migration in ways that empower cartels and endanger both American citizens and migrants wrongly being encouraged to succumb to the perilous journey," the lawmakers wrote.
An average of 30,000 to 50,000 monthly arrests have been normal over the past decade. During the 2019 humanitarian crisis, arrests, which include families and unaccompanied children, ticked past 132,000 during the busiest month, May.
Other lawmakers who signed onto the letter include Reps. Ted Budd of North Carolina, Pete Sessions of Texas, Michael Cloud of Texas, Warren Davidson of Ohio, Jim Hagedorn of Minnesota, Mark Green of Tennessee, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Brian Babin of Texas, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, Gregory Murphy of North Carolina, Jodey Arrington of Texas, Dan Crenshaw of Texas, Michael Burgess of Texas, Mike Garcia of California, Jody Hice of Georgia, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Ann Wagner of Missouri, Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Ben Cline of Virginia, Bob Good of Virginia, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Bill Posey of Florida, Andy Harris of Maryland, Michael Guest of Mississippi, Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin, James Baird of Indiana, Jack Bergman of Michigan, Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Rick Crawford of Arkansas, Kat Cammack of Florida, Bob Gibbs of Ohio, Barry Moore of Alabama, August Pfluger of Texas, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Ken Calvert of California, Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, Burgess Owens of Utah, Ronny Jackson of Texas, Beth Van Duyne of Texas, Lance Gooden of Texas, Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, Tom McClintock of California, Byron Donalds of Florida, and Ken Buck of Colorado.