Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) on July 23 announced he’s sponsoring a bill that would put a 10-year freeze on all immigration into the United States, arguing that the pause is needed to help stem the current surge in illegal border crossings.
“We can’t have legal immigration when we have rampant illegal alien invaders. This is a threat to our national security and our economy and to our citizens,” Gosar said in a statement announcing HR 4643, a proposal that seeks “to prohibit the admission of aliens to the United States for 10 years” from the date of its potential enactment.
The backdrop for Gosar’s initiative is the border surge, with federal immigration officials recently announcing that they had apprehended 188,829 people illegally crossing the southwest border in June, up from 180,034 in May. The figure includes more than 15,000 unaccompanied minors, over 55,000 family units, and more than 117,000 single adults.
Gosar blamed the spike in illegal border crossings on President Joe Biden, accusing the Biden administration of “ignoring and actively assisting the violation of our federal laws,” claiming that it has “literally and figuratively opened the gates and is waving hundreds of thousands of criminals into our country.”
Since taking office, Biden has reversed a number of border and asylum policies implemented by the Trump administration, including overturning the Migrant Protection Protocols, which required asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims were processed. Biden has also proposed an immigration bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants living in the United States.
Many Republicans and some analysts have blamed Biden’s rollback of Trump-era policies for fueling the border surge, arguing that stricter rules around border security and asylum admissions serve to deter would-be illegal immigrants from trying to enter the United States.
“With the destruction of President Trump’s solid immigration enforcement, and current disregard and violation of existing federal law, Mr. Biden has unleashed the most severe border and humanitarian crisis in United States history,” Gosar stated.
Biden and members of his administration have rejected the notion that his policies are fueling a surge in illegal immigration. They also dispute the characterization of the problem as a “crisis,” instead calling it a “challenge” that they insist the administration is working to tackle, by way of a multi-pronged approach that puts a strong emphasis on addressing the root causes of emigration.
Biden said in a Feb. 2 executive order on establishing a “comprehensive regional framework” to manage migration in Central and North America: “The United States is also a country with borders and with laws that must be enforced. Securing our borders does not require us to ignore the humanity of those who seek to cross them. The opposite is true. We cannot solve the humanitarian crisis at our border without addressing the violence, instability, and lack of opportunity that compel so many people to flee their homes.”
Vice President Kamala Harris, whom Biden tasked with leading the effort to tackle the issue of illegal immigration, visited the border on June 25, after weeks of criticism from Republicans for not doing so. While there, she reiterated the administration’s view on the need to address the factors driving people to leave their homes.
“The work that we have to do is the work of addressing the root causes, otherwise we’ll continue to see the effect, what is happening at the border,” Harris said. “It’s going to require, as we have been doing, a comprehensive approach that acknowledges each piece of this.”
Immigration has been a weak spot for Biden, with a poll by The Associated Press–NORC Center for Public Affairs Research in May showing that 54 percent of Americans disapproved of his handling of the issue.