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FIRST ON FOX: The Congressional Border Security Caucus is seeking a meeting with the leaders of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) over the continuing crisis at the southern border — as Republicans continue to press the Biden administration on the high migrant numbers.
“Our members are extremely concerned about the historic levels of illegal immigration that have occurred over the past year,” co-chairs Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and Brian Babin, R-Texas, say in a letter to Magnus. “Since President Biden assumed office last January, CBP has encountered nearly 2 million aliens attempting to enter the United States.”
“This surge in illegal immigration is directly attributable to policies that have been implemented by the Biden administration,” they write. “We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss our concerns about these policies, as well as how we can work to provide CBP with the resources necessary to secure our border.”
The invitations come as the Biden administration continues to face a continued crisis at the southern border, with few signs that numbers are going to recede anytime soon. There were more than 178.800 migrant apprehensions in December and reports of continued high numbers in sectors in January.
The Biden administration has put the surge, which it does not call a crisis, down to a combination of root causes in Central America — like poverty, climate change and violence — and the Trump administration’s ending of legal asylum pathways.
Republicans, however, have blamed the crisis on the rolling back of Trump-era policies by the Biden administration, including border wall construction and the Migrant Protection Protocols (which it is since re-establishing due to a court order).
They have also blamed a Democratic push for amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the country and a dramatically narrowed scope for interior enforcement. Fox News recently reported that initial data show that there were 55,590 deportations in FY 2021, down significantly from the 185,884 deportations in FY 2020 and the 267,258 removed in FY 2019.
In a separate letter to Johnson, Babin and Biggs say the caucus’ members “support the brave men and women of ICE who work every day to enforce our laws.”
“We would appreciate an opportunity to discuss our concerns about recent policies that have been implemented by the Biden administration that have led to the release of large groups of illegal aliens into the interior of the United States that should be detained by ICE,” they write.
The Biden administration released new rules that prioritized three categories of illegal immigrants: recent border crossers, aggravated felons and national security threats. The administration has claimed it allows agents to focus limited resources on top priority threats.
Additionally, in the following months, ICE was restricted from carrying out worksite enforcement operations and operations near certain areas, including courthouses.
In September, a memo instructed agents that someone’s illegal status should not alone be the basis for arrest and deportation.
Last year, the caucus invited DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to meet with members, but he has yet to accept that invitation.
In a statement on Tuesday, Biggs accused President Biden of having “essentially rolled out the welcome mat for illegal aliens worldwide.”
“I hope Commissioner Magnus and Acting Director Johnson will come speak with the caucus to answer questions and explain how they are working to address the concerns of the American people,” he said.
Babin, meanwhile, said that the country needs “immediate answers” from the two men about “what they’re doing to fulfill their oaths of office and secure our border.”
“Our safety and sovereignty are at stake,” he said.