The crisis at the southern border continues to grow. I’m sure you’ve seen the grim statistics. More than 6.2 million migrants have illegally crossed the southern border since President Biden took office. On top of that, at least 1.5 million “gotaways” evaded law enforcement entirely. Detention facilities are beyond capacity, the immigration court backlog has skyrocketed, and deportations are at the lowest level in decades. When I visited Texas’ southern border last week, it was clear that Border Patrol agents are exhausted, discouraged, and frustrated beyond measure. It’s easy to see why.
While these data points highlight the chaos that President Biden’s failed border policies created, they only tell part of the story.
This administration’s goal has never been to fix the border crisis but to simply hide the evidence. To that end, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has tried to “legalize” illegal immigration by funneling migrants into unlawful release – or as they say in immigration law jargon, “parole” – programs it created, and we have no idea how many or what kind of people are entering the United States through this boondoggle.
Earlier this year, the Biden administration created a program that allows migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to enter and remain in the United States legally for two years and receive nearly instant work authorization. The Biden administration took this major step without the consent of Congress, acting unilaterally to offer work status for up to 360,000 people a year.
The administration also expanded a program meant to help certain vulnerable children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, by allowing parents and relatives of those children to enter or remain in the United States.
There’s no comprehensive public data on the number of people enrolled into these programs, how many of them have their status renewed, and whether they ultimately (or ever) depart the United States.
On an even larger scale, these benefits aren’t limited to individuals from specific countries – people from around the world have been released into the U.S. by utilizing the administration’s CBP One app. So far, the administration has released more than 266,000 migrants who scheduled appointments through the app. This includes individuals from Iran, China, Russia, and other adversaries around the globe. Are these hundreds of thousands of individuals included in the monthly tally of border crossings? We simply don’t know.
When these programs can’t be used to sweep rising border encounters under the rug, DHS is engaging in widespread catch and release under the sympathetic label of “humanitarian release.” It’s unclear who qualifies for catch and release, what sort of screening is taking place, how many of these migrants are even claiming asylum, or how widespread this practice is.
There’s a lot we don’t know, but one thing is certain: the Biden administration has gone to great lengths to cook the books and conceal the record levels of illegal migration it has enabled. Something must change, and we need insight into what the Biden administration is doing.
This week, I’ll introduce the Southern Border Transparency Act to force the Biden administration to make this data public. The American people have a right to know how many migrants are being released into the United States by this administration.
My bill requires DHS to reveal the details of its shady catch-and-release practices. How many migrants are being released into the country, and where are they coming from? How many receive work authorization? Do they leave when their “parole” ends? How many are placed in expedited removal proceedings, and how many are actually removed? How many claim asylum before they are released into the interior? The administration must answer these questions.
This is about transparency. If Congress hopes to do anything meaningful to address the border crisis, we need facts. We need a full accounting of the border crisis – not the doctored ledger we have today.
So far, my bill has more than 20 Republican co-sponsors. This is a simple, straightforward measure that would ensure the American people have an accurate picture of President Biden’s border policies.
If the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress believe these release programs and DHS’s handling of migrants apprehended at the border are above board, they should have nothing to hide.
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