WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today joined Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Republican committee members in pressing Biden Administration officials for answers about how the government is handling the ongoing border crisis amid the pandemic.
“Regardless of what the Biden Administration wants to call this current set of circumstances it has created, this surge in illegal immigration carries significant risks. It also imposes a heavy burden on public resources. Congress and the American people must have additional clarity about how DHS and HHS are addressing it,” the senators wrote.
In a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, the senators highlighted the serious problems with Biden Administration proposals and actions that have both encouraged more migrants to make the dangerous journey to the southern border and allowed for the quicker release of individuals into the interior of the country as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Each of the last two months has set records for both overall numbers of immigrant apprehensions and numbers of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) crossings. The Biden Administration has lifted the public health restrictions under Title 42 for UAC and has used the surge at the border to justify its reinstatement of “catch-and-release” policies.
“Catch-and-release policies pose additional risks to public health in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden Administration has expressed a purported commitment to ending the pandemic; however, news reports suggest that it now plans to keep some who are apprehended by DHS personnel in custody for just 72 hours before releasing them into American communities,” the senators explained.
The letter seeks a wide range of information from both DHS and HHS, including a breakdown of how many individuals have been detained since inauguration day, the numbers of those tested and vaccinated for COVID-19 and the duration of time individuals are in custody before and after testing. The senators also request DHS’s projections for how many migrants will cross the border this year and the medical reasons for exempting UAC from Title 42 entry restrictions.
The letter is available here.