Q: How has the Biden administration created a “seismic shift” in border security?
A: In less than one year in the Oval Office, an unprecedented migrant surge at our southern border is taking place on President Biden’s watch. U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently announced it had a historic 1.7 million encounters with illegal immigrants in fiscal year 2021. Of those, 1.4 million encounters occurred in the months since Inauguration Day. Think back to Day One of this administration. The president sent a clear message that America’s southern border was wide open. Without a doubt, the record-breaking migrant surge is directly correlated to the Biden administration’s irresponsible immigration policies and reckless disregard for enforcing our nation’s immigration laws. For starters, the president stopped construction on the border wall, restricted the ability of border agents to deport illegal immigrants, ended the Remain in Mexico policy, rolled back asylum cooperative agreements, gutted Title 42, a public health law that allows the federal government to curb entry into the U.S. during certain public health emergencies, and embraced sanctuary city policies. These actions had a demonstrable impact on the historic surge in illegal migration that’s overwhelming border towns and reaching the interior of the United States. In addition to the humanitarian crisis, this administration’s open border policy telegraphs a dangerous signal to human smugglers and drug traffickers that puts our national security in jeopardy and innocent lives in harm’s way. The border crisis underscores the importance of checks and balances; as former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I made repeated requests for an oversight hearing to hold the administration accountable for its actions. Earlier this week, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security finally appeared before our committee. At the hearing, I shared concerns I hear from Iowans. Uncontrolled illegal immigration weakens the rule of law and insults those who follow the rules to come to America. A former Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol who served our country for three decades under five presidential administrations said that under the Biden administration, there has been a “lack of any meaningful effort to secure our borders” and that the “U.S. Border Patrol is rapidly losing the situational awareness required to know who and what is entering” the United States. It’s inconceivable why this administration is effectively putting our nation’s security at risk. The most solemn responsibility of the federal government is to protect the people of the United States.
Q: What’s your takeaway from the oversight hearing?
A: Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas failed to provide any meaningful sense of urgency or concern about the crisis at our southern border. Compared to October 2020, the number of migrants apprehended in October of this year is a 128 percent increase, reflecting the historic surge in illegal migration since President Biden took office. There seems to be no end in sight to lawlessness at the border. It’s a sorry state of affairs that was entirely preventable. In March, I visited the Rio Grande Valley and got an earful from border patrol and law enforcement agents. They told lawmakers they advised the incoming administration not to roll back the Trump administration’s border policies. The advice of career law enforcement professionals was ignored. Now, we have a clear and present crisis on our hands. I asked Secretary Mayorkas about the estimated 1.2 million illegal immigrants who have received deportation orders from an immigration judge. Shockingly, even though judges reviewed each of these cases, Secretary Mayorkas said he wouldn’t accept the fact they have all received due process. This tells me the Biden administration has no intention of faithfully executing the laws of the land. On another matter, the administration is considering paying six-figure cash settlements to those who broke our immigration laws during the previous administration. The payment amounts reported in the media are potentially more than the amount received by some families of 9/11 victims and some Gold Star families. It’s insulting to our military heroes and the American taxpayer. As the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’ll continue working to restore common sense to our nation’s immigration system and demand accountability from this administration on behalf of the American taxpayer. Uncontrolled illegal immigration is unsustainable, unlawful and unfair. The Biden administration is failing the American people.