During a press conference on Tuesday, Barrasso, who serves as the Senate Republican Conference chairman, stated, "We have just returned from our southern border, and it is painfully clear that with Joe Biden's open border policy, our country is really at an increased threat for a terrorist attack." He further claimed that Border Patrol agents had seized immigrants carrying explosive devices specifically designed for terrorism.
Ricketts, who joined the senators on a trip to the border last week, echoed these concerns, stating that the country is "opening ourselves up for a terrorist attack."
Cruz, who has led multiple groups of lawmakers to southwest Texas, expressed frustration on behalf of Border Patrol agents. He claimed that they risk their lives apprehending dangerous individuals, only to have their political superiors release them. "And the next day, they go back and catch the same people all over again," Cruz added.
Cruz also highlighted the issue of minors being accompanied by older men, questioning whether they are genuinely related. He referenced the Trump administration's DNA testing of grown men with children, revealing that approximately 30% of them were not biologically related to the minors. Cruz attributed this phenomenon to the preferential treatment given to those arriving as a family unit.
Meanwhile, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas confirmed during a Senate Homeland Committee hearing that there were over 600,000 known instances of individuals evading apprehension at the border in fiscal year 2023.
In response to the ongoing border crisis, the Biden administration has called on Congress to provide an additional $14 billion in funding for border operations. This funding would be allocated towards processing, support for states and communities where migrants have been released, and the hiring of additional agents. The White House has specified that the funds would also cover transportation, including removal flights, as well as resources for alternatives to detention and non-custodial housing options.
However, Republican lawmakers argue that this request from the Biden administration will only expedite asylum processing without addressing the root problem of the influx of migrants. They advocate for the reinstatement of Title 42, a provision implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic that allowed for the swift expulsion of illegal entrants.
Senator Cornyn emphasized that there are currently no consequences associated with illegal entry into the United States, which criminal organizations exploit to their advantage. Barrasso accused the Biden administration of using the supplemental funding to make it easier for people to enter the country.
According to data from the Customs and Border Protection website, Border Patrol released over 900,000 illegal immigrants into the interior of the United States in fiscal year 2023. This figure does not include releases by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or migrants encountered at ports of entry. The majority of those released were given a notice to appear in court, often scheduled for years in the future, while a smaller number were released under humanitarian parole.
As Congress prepares to negotiate a supplemental funding package, Republican lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, are pushing for significant changes to ensure stronger border security. McConnell stated, "It's pretty clear that the supplemental that was set up is just a starting place. We're going to go over it with a fine-tooth comb... without having a credible border security provision in there, and we're going to make other changes as well."