Secure the Border!
I voted in favor of H.R.2, the Secure the Border Act, which has passed the U.S. House of Representatives. House Republicans put forth this legislation in response to the catastrophic situation at our southern border.
For years, our nation has experienced massive surges of migrants at our southern border. Experiencing such surges, the Trump Administration implemented a robust immigration plan to stem the flow of illegal migrants. This plan included construction of a border wall, more resources for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), tough detention and deportation policies for those crossing illegally, and a “Remain in Mexico” policy for immigrants seeking asylum, etc.
In his first 100 days after taking office, President Biden signed a series of Executive Orders reversing these policies.
In the two-plus years since, our southern border has become a humanitarian crisis.
Since President Biden took office, there have been over five million illegal crossings at the southern border.
Both human and drug smuggling have increased dramatically. It is reported that Mexican cartels are now making $13 billion a year smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S.
Drug trafficking – specifically fentanyl – has flourished with Biden’s new policies. Cartels have adroitly managed to send in a wave of migrants to one border location, forcing border agents there to handle and process the illegal immigrants, thus leaving large sections of the border unattended and allowing the cartels to smuggle drugs in unimpeded.
In 2022, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency seized over 379 million doses of fentanyl, enough to kill every American. And those are just the shipments of fentanyl the DEA stopped. There is no sign of the cartels slowing down the flood of illegal drugs.
Our open borders have also led to an historic number of unaccompanied minors living in our country, many being exploited and abused.
I chaired a recent Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing where we discussed U.S. Health and Human Services’ failure to competently manage the record number of unaccompanied minors in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
Due to ORR prioritizing fast tracking the release of unaccompanied children to sponsors instead of taking the time and effort to thoroughly vet those sponsors, there have been many reports of these children being forced to illegally work full time in slaughterhouses, or as roofers, or other dangerous and inappropriate professions, instead of being enrolled in school.
And as if these problems aren’t alarming enough, the House passage of H.R.2 comes as the Biden administration ends Title 42, which under certain circumstances allows for expedited removal of illegal immigrants.
This policy, which was put in place in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has allowed U.S. officials to expel illegal immigrants more than 2.8 million times.
The Biden administration expects an explosion of new migrants at the southern border with the end of Title 42. In response, 1,500 active-duty soldiers are going to the southern border to assist CBP with processing, along with U.S. Secret Service agents and U.S. Marshals.
Our policies are in desperate need of reform.
H.R.2 will end the Biden Administration’s flawed policy of catch and release, force the Biden Administration to restart the construction of the border wall, deploy needed technology to increase security to both the southern and northern borders, and provide funding to increase the number of border patrol agents.
The legislation will also strengthen current law aiming to protect unaccompanied children from human trafficking by requiring HHS to provide the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with biographical information regarding the sponsors or family members to whom the minors are released and mandates that DHS follow up with the sponsors.
Unaccompanied minors who have experienced severe forms of trafficking or who claim a credible fear of persecution will receive a hearing before an immigration judge within 14 days and the legislation allows DHS to hold an unaccompanied minor for up to 30 days to ensure a speedy judicial process.
H.R.2 also aims to streamline our asylum process by specifying that asylum must be sought at a port of entry and increases the credible fear standard.
It also makes illegal aliens ineligible for asylum if they have moved through through a safe third country without applying for protection there and allows DHS to remove aliens seeking asylum to safe third countries where they would have access to a full and fair asylum process.
The Senate should work with us to finalize an effective immigration package to begin stemming the flow of illegal immigrants and reform our broken immigration process.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.