In the spring of 2021, amid unified Democratic control of Washington for the first time in over a decade, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) appointed us and several of our GOP colleagues to investigate the national security implications of what was occurring along the southwest border. As part of the American Security Task Force initiative, we were tasked with getting out of D.C. to the border towns and states feeling the brunt of the Biden administration’s bad policies. From these meetings and conversations, we have developed border security policy solutions for House Republicans to put forward as part of a governing agenda if the GOP takes back the majority this November.
At the outset of our efforts, the consequences of newly inaugurated Biden’s irresponsible policies were just beginning to be felt. He had ended a number of effective border security policies right away, including the construction of physical barriers along the wall and the Migrant Protection Protocols, otherwise known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. But even at this early stage, we were already hearing firsthand accounts that unprecedented numbers of individuals on the terrorism watchlist had been interdicted at the border — a troubling trend that, despite consistent resistance from the Biden administration, members of our Task Force succeeded in bringing to light. As our oversight efforts continued, we, along with our House Republican colleagues, kept finding new and more troubling fallout from the administration’s security failures at the southern border.
Over dozens of trips to the border — something Biden has failed to do even once — House Republicans took notes directly from front-line Border Patrol agents, local law enforcement in border communities, state officials, business owners, and everyday people. What we have heard is shocking. State, county, and municipal resources are deeply strained in the wake of federal abdication of border security responsibilities. The men and women of the Border Patrol feel completely sidelined in their mission to secure the homeland — they told us time and again that their main job these days is just keeping up with processing hundreds of thousands of individuals a month who cross into the interior of the United States.
Oftentimes, our federal law enforcement officers are openly mocked, harassed, or physically assaulted by human and drug smugglers who are all too aware that the Border Patrol’s hands are tied by Biden administration policy. There is a pervasive feeling of lawlessness, cynicism, and low morale among the ranks of the men and women who have sworn an oath to protect the homeland but are now hamstrung by their own government.
The data only further underscore the nature of the crisis: Last year marked a grim record of more than 107,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S., stemming mostly from increases in synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and methamphetamine. Biden’s first year in office also set a record for the most illegal southwest border encounters, with more than 2.75 million immigrants from more than 160 countries entering the country. A record number of these encounters involved individuals on the terrorism watchlist, some of whom weren’t apprehended , adding to the outrageous number of getaways. And all the while, the Biden administration was deflecting blame for its mismanagement on long-standing push factors from just three small Northern Triangle countries in Central America.
Americans should elect a Republican majority and allow us to place a critical check on this administration’s security failures. We have legislation ready to go on day one that will keep our commitment to American security by building physical barriers along the southwest border, investing in new and cutting-edge technology to support border security, hiring and training new front-line Border Patrol agents, and mitigating the free flow of fentanyl plaguing communities across the country. In addition, House Republicans will work to force the Biden administration to reinstate the effective Migrant Protection Protocols, expand the use of Title 42 expedited removal authority to include all public health emergencies, and fix bad asylum policies that are pull factors and sources of enrichment for drug cartels while protecting those with legitimate claims.
We’re here to make just one aspect of our case to the public ahead of the 2022 midterm elections — the homeland security case. We have heard the deep concerns of our constituents about the administration’s handling of the border crisis, and we are proud to offer these policy proposals to the voters for consideration in determining who should control Congress come November.
Reps. John Katko (R-NY), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) & Tony Gonzales (R-TX) are members of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s American Security Task Force.