KATIE BRITT, Senator for Alabama

Four-piece package tackles crisis head-on

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 9, 2023 – Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.) today led a coalition of her colleagues in introducing a package of four pieces of legislation aimed at sealing and securing the southern border, cracking down on asylum abuse, keeping American communities and families safe, and ultimately ending the ongoing border crisis.

“There is an unprecedented humanitarian and national security crisis at our southern border,” said Senator Britt. “This is a direct, avoidable result of the Biden Administration’s dangerously weak policies. Hardworking parents across our nation want their children to grow up in safe, strong communities, so that they can reach their full potential and live their American Dream. This legislation would help secure that dream for families in every corner of our country.”

“President Biden has created the worst border crisis in our nation’s history. If he was serious about ending this nightmare, he’d ensure our immigration laws are actually enforced and rollback his radical, open-border policies. Senator Britt’s legislation provides the Biden administration immediate solutions to stop the never-ending flow of illegal migrants and deadly drugs coming across our southern border,” said Senator John Barrasso.

“Four and a half million illegal immigrants, more than double the population of Idaho, have been encountered at the southern border since President Biden took office. This record breaking number fails to account for the gotaways, illicit drugs, and human smuggling that has also poured into communities across the country. President Biden’s southern border is a drug crisis, a humanitarian crisis, and a national security crisis. It’s time to reverse course and secure the border by building the wall, reinstating the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, and ending ‘catch and release,’” said Senator James Risch.

“Our immigration system has been broken for years, but the Biden administration’s policies have created a crisis at our southern border. Congress must take action if we are ever to find a long-term solution to strengthen our borders, fix the current border crisis and make certain our legal immigration system adequately meets our workforce needs. I am pleased to join Senator Britt on these bills, which are a step in the right direction to protecting against illegal immigration and stopping those who wish to do us harm. I will continue to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to eliminate the crisis once and for all,” said Senator Mike Rounds.

1). The first piece of the package is a simple resolution that would act as a straight-forward acknowledgment that there is a crisis on the southern border. The resolution is cosponsored by Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Deb Fischer (R-Nebr.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

“We have to acknowledge the problem before we can solve it, but President Biden hasn’t even been willing to do that,” Senator Britt remarked. “With a record number of Americans dying from fentanyl poisoning, record deaths among migrants attempting to cross the border, record profits by the cartels, and a record amount of people on the terrorism watchlist apprehended at the border, there is no doubt that this is a crisis unlike which we have ever seen.”

“Let’s be clear: The record level of illegal immigration we have seen is the result of failed policies throughout the first two years of the Biden administration. It took too long for the administration to act on the border, and it took too long for the president to go and see the crisis he created. It’s past time we establish what this truly is – a sustained crisis on our southern border,” said Senator Capito.

2). The second piece of the package is a bill, the “Keep Our Communities Safe Act,” to close the Obama-Biden catch-and-release policy that requires the federal government to release illegal aliens into the United States’ interior after detaining them for six months, if no other country accepts them for deportation.

The Keep Our Communities Safe Act is cosponsored by Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Deb Fischer (R-Nebr.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.).

“Keeping American communities and families safe starts with empowering the Department of Homeland Security to keep criminals off of our streets,” Senator Britt stated.

“The Biden administration’s open-border, catch-and-release policies have created a crisis that threatens the safety of local communities and our national security. The Keep Our Communities Safe Act addresses the deliberate enforcement void created by President Biden by giving the Department of Homeland Security the discretion to detain illegal immigrants awaiting deportation and barring criminals from being released into the country. This bill closes loopholes that overwhelm law enforcement and endanger Americans,” said Senator Tuberville.

“For two solid years, President Biden has avoided the southern border, turned a blind eye to agents overwhelmed by the influx in illegal crossings, and glossed over the devastating impacts on our nation. The administration must act to address the urgent humanitarian and crime crises it created. These bills acknowledge the catastrophe at the southern border and makes common sense reforms to stem the tide,” said Senator Cramer.

“While Biden refuses to take decisive action to secure America’s Southern border, drug traffickers, smugglers and known terrorists are flooding into our interior. The Keep Our Communities Safe Act is a vital step in curtailing the flow of dangerous drugs and deadly fentanyl currently flowing unchecked over our border, and I’m proud to partner with Senator Britt and my colleagues on this important piece of legislation. Dangerous individuals who have illegally crossed our border should find no sanctuary in the United States, and if Biden refuses to take action in keeping Americans safe, Republicans will,” said Senator Schmitt.

“The crisis at our southern border escalates by the day, putting American families at risk. Yet, the Biden Administration continues to do nothing to secure our border, and instead, releases illegal aliens into our communities. Congress has to take common sense steps to restore order and prevent violent crime,” said Senator Rubio.

“The Biden administration’s refusal to enforce our laws is incentivizing illegal immigration and creating a human and drug trafficking crisis at the southern border. These bills will help stem the tide of illegal immigration and ensure we secure the border. Border security is national security,” said Senator Hoeven.

3). The Asylum Abuse Reduction Act, the third piece of the package, is a four-pronged bill to fix America’s broken asylum process, which is causing chaos throughout the country’s immigration and border security system. The bill would require migrants to declare asylum at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico or Canada before entering the United States; create a criminal bench warrant for aliens that have failed to appear for immigration court; codify the Trump Administration’s Third Country Asylum Rule; and establish a fix to the Flores Settlement Agreement.

Cosponsors of the Asylum Abuse Reduction Act are Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

“It is critical that we end incentives and loopholes that are encouraging immigrants to break the law and game the system,” Senator Britt commented. “The status quo has led to a tidal wave of people coming across our border. It is imperative that we fix the process to eliminate asylum abuse and ensure legitimate asylum claimants are processed in a timely fashion.”

“By refusing to secure the border, Joe Biden has added 6 million illegal immigrants to the country in just two years. Our bills will help stop both bogus asylum seekers and the release of criminal aliens into our communities,” said Senator Cotton.

 “If the Biden Administration won’t show some leadership and accountability for its failed policies which have fueled the border crisis, then Congress needs to take action. I am proud to work with my colleagues on the Resolution Acknowledging a Crisis at the Southern Border, the Keep Our Communities Safe Act, and the Asylum Abuse Reduction Act to secure our border and end this humanitarian and security crisis,” said Senator Tillis.

“Under President Biden, there have been the most illegal border crossings in U.S. history.  This is alarming and intolerable. With those illegal crossings, we have seen record levels of lethal fentanyl flowing into our communities, killing our nation’s young adults at tragic rates.  We must protect our national security by immediately closing all loopholes and enforcing all immigration laws to ensure the safety of American citizens,” said Senator Crapo.

“On his first day in office, Joe Biden recklessly eliminated all of President Trump’s common sense border policies that kept America safe. Two years later, over four million illegal aliens have flooded across our border, along with thousands of pounds of deadly fentanyl and other drugs. I’ve seen this crisis firsthand, and the situation is worse than ever before. I’m proud to join Senator Britt’s strong border security measures to end Obama-era ‘catch-and-release, reinstate the ‘Remain-in-Mexico’ policy, and protect our communities from the worst border disaster in American history,” said Senator Mullin.

“Americans know we have a border crisis and want to see it addressed. Since the Biden administration refuses to do so, Congress must step up and push them to do their job,” said Senator Cassidy.

“President Biden’s weakness when it comes to enforcing the law has led to the worst border crisis in our nation’s history. It’s bad enough that we have an overwhelming amount of illegal immigrants, drugs, and sex trafficking victims streaming into our nation, but it’s even worse that it is preventable. This legislation will add to the growing list of available solutions to force the Biden administration to do its job and keep our nation and its border secure,” said Senator Hyde-Smith

4). The final piece of the package is the WALL Act. This bill would expend funds to complete building the wall on the southern border. The legislation would pay for this expenditure by eliminating the entitlement benefits and tax credits that illegal immigrants are using and fining those making illegal entry into the United States.

Cosponsors of the WALL Act are Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

“We need to seal and secure the border – at ports of entry and between them – through a combination of physical infrastructure, technology, equipment, and personnel,” Senator Britt concluded. “An invaluable piece of this equation is finishing the wall on our southern border. This is a commonsense measure that funds this construction without raising taxes on American citizens or adding to the national debt.”

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More background information on the legislation can be found here.