The already-deteriorating situation at the border is getting worse, and it is a crisis of the president’s own making and neglect. This week, President Biden ended the use of Title 42, a pandemic-era policy used to prevent illegal crossings. This action handicaps the Border Patrol and increases the incentives for illegal immigration. To no one’s surprise, tens of thousands of migrants have flocked to the border in anticipation of relaxed entry rules.
The Biden administration has had over two years to prepare for this moment, but they have refused to act. Instead, they are relying on last-minute stopgaps – including sending 1,500 active-duty troops to handle paperwork at the border. Border Patrol agents are already dealing with record levels of illegal crossings, and now they are preparing for a 300 percent swell – up to 18,000 migrants per day. The chaos that will follow the end of Title 42 will be among the most predictable border crises in recent memory.
Biden Is Not Prepared for a Surge of His Own Making
When I visited the border in March, I described the situation as President Biden’s self-inflicted wound. For years, he has decided to abdicate responsibility. He told the world our border was open by embracing the “catch and release” policy, ending the “Remain in Mexico” policy, and stopping construction of President Trump’s wall. He named an ineffective border czar, Vice President Kamala Harris, who could not be bothered to visit the border until three months after her appointment. The president benched Border Patrol agents, assigning them to desk work instead of giving them the tools they need to do the job. It is no wonder that illegal crossings have increased every year of his presidency. To hide the scale of the problem, the Biden administration even relocated migrants to U.S. cities in the dead of night.
Realizing a crisis was developing at the border, both Democrats and Republicans expressed concern about ending Title 42. But instead of listening to good sense and equipping officials on the ground, the administration has thrown together a slap-dash plan. Their eleventh-hour tactics cannot begin to address the coming surge.
Unused Border Wall Materials Cost Taxpayers Millions
In a particularly galling move, the Biden administration has chosen to waste millions of dollars simply to avoid building the border wall. As the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I led an investigation that found the Department of Defense is spending $130,000 every day to store unused border wall panels. We also learned that some states offered to purchase the materials and install the barriers themselves. Instead of allowing the panels to be used for their intended purpose, the administration decided to pay millions of dollars a month to keep them in storage.
In response to our findings, I introduced the FINISH IT Act. The legislation would force the Department of Defense either to use the wall materials or send them to willing border states. Every dollar Congress gives to the Department of Defense should further national security, which begins with safe and secure borders. Defense funding should not be used to block projects the administration does not like.
The FINISH IT Act is just one way in which I am calling on the president to take the border seriously. Republicans stand ready to hold his administration accountable for actions it takes – or refuses to take – to secure our border, enforce our laws, and keep our communities safe.