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FIRST ON FOX: Dozens of Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate are requesting the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) launch an investigation into the actions taken by the Biden administration in relation to the crisis at the southern border.
More than 100 lawmakers, including 21 senators, led by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., have written to DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari requesting “a comprehensive review of the decisions by the Biden Administration that have led to the worst border crisis in United States history.”
The Biden administration’s first year in office saw a dramatic spike in encounters at the border, which quickly overwhelmed border officials. Republicans have blamed the crisis on the dramatic rollback of Trump-era policies, while the Biden administration has blamed “root causes” in Central America like violence, corruption and poverty. It has also accused the Trump administration of shutting legal asylum pathways.
The lawmakers argue that there is precedent for the DHS OIG to investigate issues related to border security, and that the administration has not complied with their efforts at congressional oversight.
“This lack of information hinders Congress’ ability to effectively legislate solutions to both fix the immediate crisis and to ensure that political considerations do not outweigh national security in the future,” they write. “The Inspector General is best positioned to provide such apolitical oversight and report to Congress such findings.”
The lawmakers tell Cuffari that sources have confirmed that Biden officials were warned that their policies would lead to a surge at the border: “Congress and the American people deserve to know if the border crisis was preventable or even worse, intentional,” they say.
In a statement, Stefanik pointed specifically to the halting of border wall construction and an attempt to block deportations as particularly egregious early policies by the administration — while noting it has gone hand-in-hand with a push for amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the country.
“Since then, we have seen eight straight months of record-breaking illegal immigrant crossings and over 1.8 million apprehensions. Despite this catastrophe at our Southern Border, President Biden and House Democrats are pushing mass amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants,” she said. “Border security is national security, and Joe Biden’s failure to secure our Southern Border has made all our communities less safe. It is time for Americans to know why this crisis is continuing, and I am proud to lead the push for answers.”
Scott accused the administration of “laying out a welcome mat for human traffickers and savage cartels bringing drugs and crime to our communities, and blatantly ignoring U.S. laws and policies that are designed to keep America safe.”
“Under the incompetent reign of Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, we have no idea how many illegal aliens have been released into our nation, we have no idea how many have been resettled, and we have no idea where they are in our own country,” he said. “The administration is either intentionally keeping local law enforcement and communities in the dark, or willfully breaking U.S. laws by letting unvetted aliens roam freely across America. We can’t allow them to continue recklessly ignoring U.S. law and putting families at risk.”
The letter requests a review of everything from the information the transition team was given, to communication records between appointees and White House officials, and a “full accounting” of the border crisis itself – including how many illegal immigrants were released into the United States and a breakdown of where they were resettled.
The push for accountability and information comes as numbers show that border numbers are remaining stubbornly high, and indicate that the crisis may continue well into 2022. While the administration has not officially released December numbers, data provided in a Jan 14 court filing show there were 178,840 migrant encounters in December, up from 173,620 in November. Those numbers are drastically higher than the previous year, when there were 72,113 encounters in November and 73,994 in December.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) praised the push by the lawmakers for accountability, calling it “encouraging.”
“We are in desperate need of information illustrating the dramatic surge in unauthorized border crossings, including the number of illegal aliens that the administration releases into the country, and whether or not they acted intentionallyto create crisis conditions,” FAIR President Dan Stein said in a statement.
The administration has kept some Trump-era policies in some capacities. It has kept in place the Title 42 public health order that requires rapid expulsion of migrants at the border — but is not applying it to unaccompanied children or most migrant families.
Meanwhile, a court battle has seen the administration forced to reimplement the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — a Trump-era policy that kept migrants in Mexico rather than have them released into the country. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has said that the administration is ending the policy via a different route in order to comply with the court order.
The Biden administration, however, has defended its record on migration. In an interview with CBS News published Thursday, Mayorkas said priorities in 2022 include reforming immigration detention, reducing backlogs, reshaping the asylum process and expanding naturalization efforts.
“We accomplished a lot in this past year. We certainly have plans to do a lot more — and we will do it,” Mayorkas said.