Four members of Congress are calling on the Obama administration to quickly address the recent spike in illegal immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, the four lawmakers ask the administration to “take immediate action and mobilize all available resources of the department to stop the ongoing surge of illegal immigration at the southwest border.”
The letter was sent Thursday by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., along with Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. Grassley and Goodlatte lead each chamber’s judiciary committees.
According to the letter, the lawmakers believe the immigration surge is connected to the U.S. presidential election.
“Numerous media reports indicate that this surge is a large-scale effort to enter the United States before this year’s presidential election,” the letter states. “The onslaught of illegal immigration reflects continued efforts by aliens from Central America—El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala—to overwhelm our limited resources at the border, which inevitably results in the release of tens of thousands of removable aliens within the United States.”
The letter also states that “thousands” of Haitians and Africans are gathering in two Mexican cities, Tijuana and Mexicali, and “asserting dubious claims of asylum [to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers], which will practically guarantee their entry.”
In the last fiscal year, according to the letter, 408,870 illegal immigrants were found by the Border Patrol attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Of those apprehended, more than 77,000 were members of so-called ‘family units,’ which represents an increase of 95 percent over [fiscal year] 2015 figures, and nearly 60,000 were unaccompanied alien minors, which reflects a 49 percent increase over the previous fiscal year,” the letter reports.
Currently, the 40,000 illegal immigrants are being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The letter warns that this record number could easily reach 47,000 in the very near future.
“Without additional funding, ICE likely will release thousands of those detained into the United States, many of whom are criminals, who will abscond and hide from authorities,” the letter states.
Goodlatte, Gowdy, Grassley, and Sessions are calling on Homeland Security to immediately address this issue. They noted the department abruptly canceled a briefing last week with congressional staff, leaving questions about the recent surge unanswered.
“It has come to light through information provided to our committees that the department may have issued a directive to limit engagement with Congress until immediately before the election,” they wrote. “Any such directive, if issued, would be an unacceptable political ploy and a serious infringement of Congress’ oversight authority under the Constitution. We fully expect that such a directive, if issued, would be immediately rescinded.”
David Inserra, a homeland security expert at The Heritage Foundation, believes this is yet another instance that illustrates President Barack Obama’s lack of action to address the country’s immigration policy.
“The Obama administration’s failure to enforce our immigration laws and ongoing promises of amnesty or legalization by policymakers have encouraged continuing waves of illegal immigration,” Inserra said in an email to The Daily Signal. “Until the U.S. redoubles the enforcement of its immigration laws and provides ICE and other immigration agencies with the resources they need, the U.S. will keep struggling with the surges of illegal immigration we have seen and continue to see at our borders.”