WASHINGTON, D.C., November 13, 2023 – U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, recently joined Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and 20 of their Senate Republican colleagues in introducing the Southern Border Transparency Act.
This legislation would require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to accurately report how it is handling migrants encountered at the border and ensure the American people have a full, timely accounting of the number of migrants being released into the United States by the Biden Administration.
“Republicans are offering solution after solution to President Biden’s border crisis, which recently shattered a new record of eight million illegal border crossings since this Administration took office,” said Senator Britt. “The American people deserve accurate, timely information on how this Administration is abdicating its obligation to secure our homeland and keep our communities and families safe. This legislation would further expose the fact that President Biden’s reckless catch-and-release policies have manufactured the largest humanitarian and national security crisis at the border in United States history.”
Joining Senators Britt, Cornyn, Tillis, Cotton, Tuberville, and Collins in cosponsoring this legislation are Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Senators Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Pete Ricketts (R-Nebr.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Kevin Cramer (R-N.Dak.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Roger Marshall (R-Kans.), John Hoeven (R-N.Dak.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.).
The Biden administration’s strategy for handling the influx of migrants at the border has been to funnel them into unlawful parole programs or other mechanisms that lead to their release into the interior of the United States, including the Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan parole program, an expanded Central American Minors program that now includes adults, and the likely widespread use of parole at Ports of Entry (POEs). These migrants are eligible for work authorization, and there is limited visibility into whether they ultimately depart the United States.
Right now, there is only limited public data available on the total number of people who have been released into the U.S. under some of these programs, whether they are even making asylum claims before they are released, what screenings are taking place, or whether these migrants ever depart the United States. The Southern Border Transparency Act would require DHS to fully report on how it is handling migrants encountered at the border, including:
- The number of migrants paroled at each POE and in each Border Patrol sector;
- The number of migrants apprehended at each POE and in each Border Patrol sector and how many were granted voluntary departure, placed into expedited removal, or simply released into the interior;
- The number of petitions for parole received and granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); and
- The total number of migrants paroled into the United States each fiscal year, whether they are granted work authorization, and whether they ultimately depart the United States when their parole expires.
Earlier this year, the Biden administration acted without Congressional consent to create programs that allow for hundreds of thousands of migrants to be paroled and released into the United States annually. One allows migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to remain in the U.S. for two years and offers work authorizations to up to 360,000 people a year. The administration has also released more than 266,000 migrants who scheduled immigration appointments with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) through the CBP One app, including individuals from Iran, China, and Russia. On paper, these practices result in decreased apprehensions but, in reality, they do not decrease the number of migrants with frivolous asylum claims who are entering and remaining in the United States. Separately, the administration is releasing an unknown number of individuals into the United States under the label of “humanitarian release,” although it is unclear who qualifies. Although some migrants are placed into expedited removal proceedings, most are released into the interior of the U.S. before DHS even determines whether they will make asylum claims, let alone whether those claims are credible on their face.
The text of the bill can be found here.