EXCLUSIVE: Republicans are renewing calls for Democrats to hold a hearing on the growing crisis at the southern border — while warning that the Biden administration has been sounding an “open-borders rally cry.”
Rep. Tom McClintock, ranking member on the Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, wrote to subcommittee Chair Zoe Lofgren re-issuing calls for a hearing “to examine the Biden administration’s crisis on the southern U.S. border stemming from the sharp increase of unaccompanied children (UAC) arriving at the border.”
Republicans on the Judiciary Committee had written to Lofgren at the beginning of the month calling for a hearing.
“As I await your response, the Biden border crisis is becoming increasingly worse,” McClintock wrote. “The Subcommittee must immediately address this crisis.”
In a statement, Lofgren noted that since McClintock’s letter was sent on Friday, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had directed Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support a “government-wide effort” to receive, shelter and transfer unaccompanied children.
“That is welcome news, as a border patrol station is no place for a child,” Lofgren said. “The Biden administration is currently saddled with the monumental task of undoing the cruel, disastrous and, oftentimes, illegal border policies implemented under the previous administration.”
“I certainly plan to convene Subcommittee hearings on rebuilding our immigration system writ large and am sure we’ll be discussing topics like how to best reform America’s family- and employment-based immigrant visa systems, how we can establish an orderly and humane process at the border while also managing migration in our hemisphere, how to improve the U.S. immigration court system, and more,” she said.
The administration has been facing what it admits is a “record number of individuals” coming to the border. Officials encountered 100,441 individuals in February, a 28% increase over January. It has been scrambling to deal with a surge in child migrants in particular — with the administration moving to expand capacity to house and transfer them.
Republicans have blamed Biden’s sweeping moves on immigration for the rise in migrants — noting his rollback of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) limiting of interior enforcement, the ending of border wall construction as well as efforts to introduce a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
McClintock additionally noted an error by Roberta Jacobson, the coordinator for the southern border, during a press conference last week.
“As if the Biden immigration immigration policies were not enough of an open-borders rally cry, Wednesday during a White House press briefing, President Biden’s Coordinator for the Southern Border shockingly stated in Spanish “la frontera no esta cerrada,” which translates to “the border is not closed,” he said.
While McClintock noted that Jacobson corrected herself, he said, “There is no doubt that the Mexican cartels who want to continue to get rich by smuggling migrants across the border will play and replay that clip to entice more business.”
“As Republicans noted in our letter last week, proper oversight of the Biden border crisis requires that subcommittee members have the opportunity to hear directly from the Biden administration’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Health and Human Services, and to question them about the escalating crisis and whether they have plans to stop the surge,” he said.
The call for a hearing comes after DHS had last week urged staff to volunteer and assist Customs and Border Protection at the border. On Saturday, Secretary Mayorkas made the announcement that FEMA would be aiding the effort to “safely receive, shelter and transfer unaccompanied children” attempting to get into the United States.
DHS said that FEMA “is now integrated and co-located with HHS to look at every available option to quickly expand physical capacity for appropriate lodging.”
Secretary Mayorkas has said the administration is seeking to “replace the cruelty” of the Trump administration with “an orderly humane and safe immigration process.