Senate Republicans predict more chaos to roil an existing humanitarian and national security crisis at the southern border and blame President Joe Biden’s inaction for allowing Title 42 to expire at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
The Biden administration “can’t even say the words ‘illegal immigration,’” and instead reword it as “irregular migration,” Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., said.
“We’ve seen a record 5 million illegal crossings at the border under President [Joe] Biden,” Fischer said at a press conference Thursday outside the U.S. Capitol with a group of Republican colleagues.
“There have been another 1.4 million known gotaways under President Biden. We have 85,000 unaccompanied children; they cross the border and now they are missing,” she said. “That is a crisis. That is chaos. That is not irregular migration.”
About 13,000 illegal immigrants are expected to cross the southern border from Mexico into the United States because of the lifting of Title 42, a public health measure put in place in 2020 by the Trump administration during the COVID-19 pandemic. The measure made it easier to turn illegal immigrants away or expel them without adjudicating their asylum claims.
Calling the southern border a “war zone,” Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., announced that he and fellow Senate Republicans John Hoeven of North Dakota, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Ted Budd of North Carolina would travel this weekend to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas to show support for strained Border Patrol agents.
“Joe Biden owns this, but as a senator, I feel like it is my obligation to go down there and give our Border Patrol officers a word of encouragement,” Marshall said. “They are working overtime, they are working six and seven days per week, 12-hour shifts. They are exhausted.”
Since Biden took office Jan. 20, 2021, he has eyed lifting Title 42, adding to his earlier moves to reinstate catch-and-release, and end former President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy for those claiming asylum. Biden also halted construction of the border wall that began under Trump.
“If you are a Border Patrol agent right now along our southern border, you literally don’t know what the policy is,” said Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who led the press conference and introduced the other senators.
“Because of the end of Title 42, because they [the Biden administration] had not put a new border policy in place in time, we have over 600,000 people just south of our southern border in shelters waiting to be able to cross in the days ahead,” Lankford added.
Biden’s border policies aren’t just harmful to the United States, Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., said as he recalled a recent meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.
“He said he’s lost all control of his southern border because there are now caravans of people coming through his country. He has no idea who they are,” Hagerty said, referring to Guatemala’s president. “He has lost control of his sovereignty as a nation because of what Joe Biden has done to invite people from all over the world to illegally enter our country. Joe Biden is destablizing the entirety of Latin America as a result of the policies that he has adopted.”
Hagerty added that Biden’s border policies also help China in what the Tennessee Republican called the “next chapter in the horror story that is Joe Biden’s America.”
“Joe Biden has decided that it is best to cede completely control of our southern border to cartels, multibillion criminal organizations that work in partnership with the Chinese Communist Party to plug fentanyl into our country to kill our youth,” Hagerty said. “In fact, the No. 1 killer today of Americans between 18 [and] 45 is overdose, most of it fentanyl coming over the border. This is the next chapter in Joe Biden’s America.”
“Joe Biden doesn’t give a damn about Americans,” Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., asserted at the Senate Republicans’ press conference,
“Why would I say that? Seven thousand Americans died of fentanyl overdose. Why? Joe Biden doesn’t care,” Scott said. “He has a completely open border. We’ve got criminals, we’ve got terrorists coming [across] our border. Just last week, a family was murdered by an illegal immigrant in this country.”
As for Biden, the president told reporters Wednesday about what the lifting of Title 42 will mean at the border: “It remains to be seen. It’s going to be chaotic for a while.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre put a more positive spin on the situation Tuesday, asserting: “We have a robust process to deal with what is going to occur after Title 42 lifts.”
At the press conference Thursday, Scott said he doesn’t think anyone understands why Biden is promoting these border policies.
“Joe Biden has decided he wants an open border where anybody can come across the border and you are just flown anywhere you want in this country,” Scott said. “This is despicable, what he is doing to American citizens. We are losing people daily to fentanyl, to crime; this is wrong.”
Several of the senators, including Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, noted that every state has become a border state because illegal immigrants are allowed into the United States and transported to other states. In addition, senators said, deadly fentanyl is reaching their states.
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, called on Congress to pass her Build It Act, which would allow border states to obtain and use material already purchased by the federal government to continue building a physical barrier.
“For the safety and security of our nation, we must first secure the border. That comes first and foremost,” Ernst said. “Second is reinstate the Remain in Mexico policy that was put into place under the Trump administration. Finally, end this reckless catch-and-release program.”
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