As President Joe Biden’s administration appears on the verge of ending Trump-era COVID illegal immigration policies, House Republicans will introduce a strategy bill to buttress protections along the southern border, Fox News reports.
The text of the Comprehensive Southern Border Strategy Act was initially obtained by the outlet on Tuesday — along with a press release from its authors, GOP Reps. Young Kim of California and Michael Guest of Mississippi.
The legislation would force the Department of Homeland Security to present a comprehensive strategy for the southern border within a year of its enactment. It would include an “overview of the current security risks at the Southern border” and whatever “tools” DHS employs to “combat drug trafficking with a focus on fentanyl and related substances.”
“Border security is imperative for national security, public safety and economic success of communities,” said Kim, a freshman representative from a border state.
“As we see the border crisis continue to reach record-high numbers of illegal migrant and illicit drug encounters, we must ensure that our government, regardless of who is leading the administration, is making border security a priority.”
“The Comprehensive Southern Border Strategy Act will help better allocate resources to secure our border and equip our border patrol and CBP officers on the front lines with the tools they need to gain operational control of every mile of our U.S.-Mexico border” Rep. Kim added.
“We have a strategy for our Northern border, and it’s past time we have one for our Southern border.”
“For over a year, the Biden Administration has targeted the legal and physical infrastructure that law enforcement agents rely upon to secure our southwest border and has continued to send mixed messages often interpreted by potential migrants that the border is open to any and all who wish to cross,” Guest, the House Homeland Security Committee vice ranking member, said in the release.
Given that most apprehensions are at the southern border, the lack of comprehensive plan to deal with it a problem — especially since the Biden administration is making moves toward ending Title 42.
Title 42 is a health provision that allows DHS to summarily deport illegal immigrants in times of crisis caused by communicable diseases, not allowing them an asylum hearing.
The provision was invoked under the Trump administration and has been kept mostly intact by Joe Biden, with one exception: illegal immigrant minors have been exempted.
This led to a surge in minors being caught by the Border Patrol in the early days of the Biden administration. Now, amid still-record numbers of illegal immigrants being caught at the southern border, Customs and Border Protection has warned that ending Title 42 would cause a surge of migrants.
Title 42 is up for renewal next week and there are whispers on Capitol Hill the Biden administration will let it lapse.
It’s not just Republicans who have faulted DHS for not having a comprehensive strategy to deal with the southern border as as the provision might be allowed to expire, either.
Arizona Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, both Democrats, have expressed their concerns over DHS’ lack of a “comprehensive plan” if Title 42 is ended.
“We write to you to express great concern about the lack of a specific plan from your Administration with respect to potential changes to the Title 42 Public Health authority, which the [DHS] has relied on at the border during the coronavirus pandemic,” the senators wrote in a letter to President Biden.
“Given the impacts that changes to Title 42 could have on border communities, border security, and migrants, we urge your administration not to make any changes to Title 42 implementation until you are completely ready to execute and coordinate a comprehensive plan that ensures a secure, orderly, and humane process at the border.”