EXCLUSIVE: More than 30 House Republicans on Thursday wrote to Senate leaders in both parties, urging them to reject President Biden’s nominees for key Department of Homeland Security agencies – warning that they will not “make the decisions necessary” to end the ongoing crisis at the southern border.
In a letter to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, the 31 Republicans say the nominees “either helped develop the policies that have produced the crisis or have shown an unwillingness to enforce immigration law.”
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The Biden administration has been facing a surge in migration at the border, with more than 178,000 migrants encountered in April alone, including more than 13,000 unaccompanied children. The crisis has overwhelmed border facilities and led to shocking scenes at the border.
While the administration has blamed a combination of “root causes” in Central America and a lack of preparation from the Trump administration, Republicans have blamed the rolling back of Trump-era border protections such as border wall construction and the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), as well as a narrowing of interior enforcement and a push for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
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As the debate rages on, the Senate is currently considering three nominees to key DHS positions: Ur Jaddou to lead the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Chris Magnus to serve as head of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Sheriff Ed Gonzalez to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE.)
The lawmakers note that Jaddou led the Biden transition team’s review of DHS, in which they say “she developed the policies that created the current crisis at the southern border.” Meanwhile, they point to Magnus’ defense of “sanctuary” policies – that restrict cooperation with federal immigration enforcement – as police chief in Tucson, Arizona.
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They also note that Gonzalez, when he served as Sheriff of Harris County, terminated cooperation agreements with ICE, and also opposed ICE raids of illegal immigrants in his jurisdiction – forbidding his officers from participating.
“The policies that these nominees promoted in their previous positions clearly demonstrate the nominees will be unwilling to make the decisions necessary to enforce the law and end the current border crisis,” the lawmakers write. “Confirming these nominees would endorse the policies that created the crisis.”
The letter was led by Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and Brian Babin, R-Texas, who chair the House Border Security Caucus and have been intensely opposing the Biden administration’s policies on immigration and asylum – arguing that it has fueled the massive migration wave they say is putting Americans in danger, and that Biden should reinstate the Trump-era policies it ended.
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“USCIS, CBP, and ICE need leaders who will put America first and enforce the law. The Senate should reject these anti-border security nominees and force President Biden to nominate individuals who are committed to protecting our national security, securing the border, and ending the crisis,” Biggs said in a statement. “The Trump administration proved that it is possible to implement policies to secure our border; the Biden administration must reinstate the policies that were working instead of appeasing open-borders activists.”
Babin said the nominations show Biden is being “cavalier” in ending the crisis at the border.
“Each of these candidates has a history of making dangerous policy decisions, ignoring immigration law, and perpetuating the open borders narrative,” he said. “These agencies are vital to the safety and security of our country, and we deserve for them to be led by people who will honor that responsibility.”
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The Biden administration, meanwhile, has been forging ahead with a strategy of focusing on prioritizing shifting unaccompanied children from Border Patrol custody to the care of Health and Human Services (HHS), and then to their release into the interior to parents or guardians already in the U.S. The number of children in HHS care has dropped from 22,000 to less than 17,000 in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris will next week visit Guatemala and Mexico for the first time as part of her efforts to combat the “root causes” of the crisis.