Lawmakers have the opportunity to pass what House Majority Leader Steve Scalise says he believes is the “strongest border security package that Congress has ever taken up.”
Scalise and other House Republicans rolled out a border security plan Thursday that includes provisions to lengthen the existing wall along the U.S.-Mexico border by 900 miles, expand use of technology at the border, end the policy of catch and release, and support Border Patrol agents and local law enforcement.
“House Republicans are fed up” with President Joe Biden’s weak border policies, Scalise, R-La., said, explaining that’s why three House committees—Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Foreign Affairs—worked together to craft a larger bill. All three committees’ work on related issues is being combined into one border security package, he said.
“We made a commitment to secure our border,” Rep. Mark Green, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said.
“This morning at 3 a.m., the members, the Republican members, of the Committee of Homeland Security, [Rep.] Michael Guest, as my vice chair, and so many others, culminated the work of several months of stubby-pencil, backroom work, figuring out just the language that would get the job done and deliver for the American people, and we did that,” Green, R-Tenn., said.
The Republican bill is slated to come to the House floor for a vote the second week of May, Scalise said, which is the same week that Title 42 expires.
Title 42 is a public health measure put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, which the Trump administration declared to be a public health emergency. It has allowed the Border Patrol to turn away many illegal aliens at the southern border.
Title 42 will be lifted May 11 with the official end of the public health emergency, and that is expected to trigger an increase in the number of illegal aliens crossing the border.
In fiscal year 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered more than 2.7 million illegal aliens on America’s borders.
Guest, R-Miss., said that in fiscal year 2023, which began Oct. 1, that number is “projected to exceed over 3 million,” adding that projection came “before Title 42 expires two weeks from today.”
Already this fiscal year, more than 1.2 million illegal aliens have been encountered at the southern border, according to CBP. Since Biden took office, about 5 million illegal aliens have been encountered at the there from 140 different countries, Scalise said.
Guest said Republicans’ border bill will do what the Biden administration has not by securing the southern border:
This legislation will hire thousands of new agents. It will pay retention bonuses to frontline officers. We will invest in new technology. We will construct hundreds of miles of walls and barriers. And we will support our local and our state partners.
The time to act is now, and Republicans must lead this fight: the fight to secure our border, the fight to support the hardworking men and women of law enforcement, and the fight to stop the flow of illegal drugs coming into our communities that are killing young Americans. I promise you, I pledge to you, that as Republicans, we will not back down from this fight. We will bring this legislation to the floor and we will combat the failures of the Biden administration.
When the bill comes to the House floor for a vote, Scalise said, “every member of Congress, Republican or Democrat, will have to take a side” on America’s border security.
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