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Crisis to Catastrophe at the Southern Border

Lead Committee Republican Kay Granger wrote an op-ed for The Washington Times on the crisis at the southern border, warning that the situation could become catastrophic if we don’t change course. The piece was published shortly after the administration announced plans to stop enforcement of Title 42.
 

Crisis to Catastrophe at the Southern Border
By Kay Granger
 
One million encounters — border security agents have encountered 1 million illegal immigrants in the past six months. Just years ago, we wouldn’t have imagined encounters reaching a level that high in a 12-month period, much less six. Due to the administration’s open border policies, illegal crossings have skyrocketed. We have now topped 2 million since President Biden took office, and many of those have been released into the interior of our country as they await a court date years into the future. This is a self-inflicted crisis, and it will only get worse.
 
On his first day on the job, the president fulfilled his campaign promise to halt border wall construction, even though walls have proven to be successful in deterring illegal immigration. He then went on to revoke former President Donald Trump’s successful “Remain-in-Mexico” program, which sent asylum seekers back to Mexico and prevented those individuals from being released into our country. Now, the administration plans to stop enforcement of Title 42, a Trump-era, public health policy that restricts illegal entry into the U.S. due to health concerns.
 
Revoking this policy will undoubtedly result in a surge of migrants across the southwest border and likely inundate our already-overwhelmed homeland security agencies. With the expectation that this crisis will become catastrophic, I joined my fellow Texans in urging the administration to maintain the current Title 42 policy. Without it, the Department of Homeland Security cannot handle the influx and associated dangers.
 
These weak immigration policies pose a serious threat to our national security. As a representative from Texas, I have seen the dire situation firsthand — but never to this extent. The ongoing crisis has affected not just border communities but towns and cities throughout the nation.
 
It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants will evade Border Patrol apprehension this year — meaning the federal government will have no idea who or where these individuals are. Drug cartels, human traffickers, violent gang members, and even those on terrorist watchlists are sneaking into the interior of our country, abusing the vulnerable and ushering in dangerous drugs like fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin.
 
In fact, fentanyl seizures at the border increased 134% from FY20 to FY21 — and that’s only what was seized by Customs and Border Protection, not the thousands of pounds that found their way through our porous border and into our communities. To make matters worse, deportations have dropped drastically under Mr. Biden. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s recent report, deportations fell 68% from FY20 to FY21.
 
Even with these shocking statistics, congressional Democrats followed Biden’s lead during last year’s appropriations process by attempting to further weaken our immigration system, cutting resources and handcuffing border security agencies. As the lead Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, I made it my priority to stop those efforts.
 
During final negotiations, I led the fight for an increase in DHS funding and won by including an 11% boost for the department, with ICE and CBP receiving $400 million and $600 million increases respectively. My Republican colleagues and I stopped the administration’s plan to cancel $1.9 billion of existing border wall funding, and instead, part of that funding will be used to install gates and fill gaps created by this administration’s ill-advised wall contract cancellations. While we can consider the FY22 Homeland Security funding bill a win, much more must be done to resolve the situation.
 
During his State of the Union Address, Mr. Biden said, “We need to secure the border.” It was my hope that the president would meet his words with action when he submitted his budget request for FY23. Unfortunately, the request falls short of the resources needed to fully address the current crisis. The president’s budget includes no money for additional barriers, reduces ICE detention beds, and proposes no changes to his disastrous open borders policies.
 
It’s evident the American people are at greater risk because of the administration’s policies, and it appears that neither the president nor congressional Democrats have any intention of changing course.
 
Republicans, on the other hand, will continue to support commonsense solutions to our immigration challenges, like building more barriers, hiring more Border Patrol agents and ICE officers, deporting violent criminals, cracking down on smuggling and illicit drug trafficking, and prioritizing legal immigrants waiting in line. With a Republican majority in Congress, things will be different. We will put a stop to the Biden Border Crisis and fight to maintain the rule of law.

 

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