At a press conference discussing the ongoing crisis at the U.S.–Mexico border, several Republican senators led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) railed against the “Biden border crisis” and President Joe Biden’s refusal to address the problem.
Currently, the United States is experiencing record levels of immigration after Biden quickly overturned several of the reforms made by President Donald Trump. Throughout the conference, Senate Republicans emphasized that the border is vulnerable to drug smugglers, human traffickers, and terrorists, and warned that the “humanitarian crisis” at the border must be addressed.
“The Biden border crisis,” Cruz said, “is a crisis that, on the merits, should dominate the news each and every day because it continues to get worse.”
Biden and Harris ‘Refuse to Enforce the Law’: Cruz
Cruz pointed to a Washington Times report that found that catch and release numbers increased a whopping 430,000 percent from August 2020 to August 2021.
“That’s a percentage so big, you almost think it’s a typo,” Cruz quipped.
Cruz also said that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was also gearing up for up to 400,000 illegal immigrants to cross the border in October, including thousands of Haitians.
“The cause of all of this is simple: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris refuse to enforce the law.” Specifically, Cruz referenced three decisions made by the administration.
The first policy that contributed to the crisis, Cruz said, was the day one decision to halt construction on the border wall. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said later that the United States was paying “millions of dollars to be able to watch pieces [of the border wall] sit on the ground,” and noted that work could be quickly resumed on the wall if Biden wanted to do so.
Second, Cruz continued, was “re-instituting the failed policy of catch and release.” Catch and release allows illegal aliens to be released into the country after being arrested by border patrol agents; Under the conditions of their release, these illegal immigrants are expected to appear for a court hearing at a later date.
However, the Center for Immigration Studies, which describes itself as “a non-partisan, non-profit research organization,” found that about half of these released illegal immigrants failed to appear to court between 2015 and 2017 (pdf). In 2017, 43 percent did not show up to their court date.
This low success rate led the Trump DHS to announce in 2019 that the catch and release policy would be ended.
Cruz said that the administration’s “most indefensibl[e]” policy was “ending the incredibly successful ‘remain in Mexico’ international agreement.”
The Trump-era policy allowed the DHS to require that illegal immigrants stay in Mexico until their court date, averting the chance that they will fail to appear. Cruz said that because of this policy, 2020 saw “the lowest rate of illegal immigration in 45 years.”
In January, Biden suspended the program, and formally ended it permanently in June.
Lankford noted later during the press conference that a federal court had overruled the president, and demanded that Biden restart the program. Lankford criticized the administration for “dragging its feet” in reinstituting the policy. To avoid protecting the southern border, he said, Biden is “ignoring the courts.”
Cruz described the policies’ effects on his constituents in Texas. He said that farmers near the border described finding bodies on their property on a daily basis. Others living near the border, he reported, told him that they would not let their children go outside without a firearm due to the huge presence of human and drug traffickers.
“This is a humanitarian crisis, a public health crisis, it’s a national security crisis, and right now Joe Biden and Kamala Harris aren’t doing a damn thing about it,” Cruz fumed.
He criticized Biden and Harris for refusing to even visit the southern border, concluding “This tragedy needs to end, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris need to follow the law.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) took to the podium next.
He claimed that “the greatest beneficiary of the Biden border crisis are the criminal organizations that are getting richer by the day.” These organizations overwhelmed border agents by sending thousands of illegal aliens across the border at a time, leaving border patrol unable to stop traffickers smuggling drugs into the country.
“While Biden is playing checkers at the border,” Cornyn ruled, criminal organizations “are playing 3D chess.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) emphasized during his short speech that the border crisis “is not a Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California problem, this is a problem for all fifty states in the United States.”