This initiative is seen as a potential solution to the ongoing migrant crisis.
The letter, spearheaded by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, congratulates Johnson on his election as Speaker of the House and urges him to prioritize the enactment of the Immigration Enforcement Partnership Act of 2023, H.R. 1337. This legislation, or similar ones, would grant states more authority to combat illegal immigration.
Introduced in the House last year by Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., H.R. 1337 stipulates that if a state attorney general deems the head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be inadequately fulfilling his non-discretionary duties in enforcing U.S. immigration law, state officials may formally request that DHS take action. This enforcement particularly pertains to the arrest, detention, and deportation of illegal immigrants.
Upon receiving such a request, the DHS secretary has two options: comply with the request or authorize state officials to act as immigration officers on behalf of the federal government. This would involve apprehending, arresting, and deporting illegal immigrants. If the secretary fails to comply within 30 days, the attorney general can file a civil action in a U.S. district court to enforce these requirements.
Despite the urgency of the situation, state officials report that H.R. 1337 has yet to receive a hearing in the House. They hope this will change under the new speaker. The letter highlights the record numbers of migrant encounters, including those on the terror watchlist, by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the southern border in FY 23.
The attorneys general lament the lack of action by Congress, suggesting that earlier intervention could have prevented the current record-setting number of CBP encounters at the border. They argue that granting states the authority to enforce immigration laws could prevent another record from being set next year.
The state officials express surprise at the lack of attention given to H.R. 1337 and similar proposed laws. They hope that under Speaker Johnson's leadership, this will change and request an expedited hearing.
The letter also cites the increased amount of fentanyl seized at the southern border, including a 110lb seizure in Rio Grande Valley in September, and the Hamas terrorist attack against Israel as indications of a potential terror threat at the U.S. border.
While the attorneys general acknowledge the numerous court cases they have initiated against the administration, they argue that the judicial system alone is insufficient to quickly and adequately address the crisis.
In a separate statement, Moody reiterated her concerns about the mass release of migrants without court dates into the interior, the flow of fentanyl into the U.S., and the potential threat posed by terrorists. She called on Congress to pass the Immigration Enforcement Partnership Act and allow states to take over the responsibilities that President Biden refuses to fulfill.
Meanwhile, House Republicans have passed comprehensive legislation to increase border security and limit asylum and parole releases into the interior. However, the Senate has yet to consider it. Senate Republicans recently introduced their own border proposals as part of discussions surrounding the White House’s supplemental budget request, but these were swiftly rejected by Senate Democrats.
The White House is requesting $14 billion from Congress for its ongoing border operations. This includes funding for migrant services and housing, anti-fentanyl technology, and additional border agents.