As another caravan consisting of thousands of migrants makes its way to the U.S.-Mexico border, Republicans in the House and Senate are renewing their calls for additional border security, calling on the Biden administration and Congress to change U.S. policies to stop more entries.
Organizers have told media outlets that there are an estimated 7,000 people in the caravan moving from southern Mexico to the United States, up from 5,000 earlier this week. One of the organizers had estimated that they were mostly from Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and Venezuela.
The Associated Press reported that migrants have complaints that processing for refugee and exit visas in Mexico had taken too long. It marks the largest caravan since the summer of last year, although with historically high numbers crashing into the border each week — September saw record-high encounters of over 269,000 — it marks a fraction of the numbers agents will likely encounter over a month.
Caravans have been a regular feature at the border in recent years, heading to the border in both the Trump and Biden administrations. They often break up on their way to the border, with migrants either seeking relief in Mexico or moving to the U.S. border to seek entry in smaller groups. But the images of the enormous numbers of people heading to the border offer a snapshot of how many have surged into the U.S. under the Biden administration.
Republicans, who have accused the Biden administration of fueling the crisis with its rollback of Trump-era border policies and releases of migrants into the U.S. interior, blamed the latest caravan on the Biden administration.
Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, told Fox News Digital that what he said was a failure to secure the border “has signaled to bad actors across the globe that exploiting our borders comes without consequence.”
“As we brace for the impact of yet another massive caravan heading towards our country, the situation at the border is dire. Sadly, it was made abundantly clear in this week’s hearing with DHS Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas that this administration lacks all control and leadership when it comes to addressing the border crisis they created, putting Americans’ safety at risk.”
The Biden administration has said it is restoring asylum pathways that were dismantled during the Trump administration and that it is dealing with a historic Hemisphere-wide crisis while expanding lawful pathways and implementing “consequences for illegal entry.” It has called on Congress to pass immigration reform legislation to fix a “broken” system, and for additional border funding — including a recent $14 billion request.
The funding would also allow for the increased use of expedited removal of those in the country illegally and would hire additional staff including Border Patrol agents, attorneys and processing coordinators. That includes $1.3 billion for “Safe Mobility Offices” and to support “host communities and legal pathways” in the region.
“This funding package would allow us to more effectively combat the scourge of fentanyl, stem the impacts of historic migration, and accelerate work authorization for eligible noncitizens,” Mayorkas told the Senate Homeland Security Committee this week. “This funding will, in short, make a critical difference in our department’s operational capacity and in our national security.”
Republicans have been skeptical of the calls from the Biden administration and pushed their own package, which would increase Border Patrol agents while limiting the ability of the administration to release migrants into the interior and increasing enforcement.
House Homeland Security Counterterrorism Subcommittee Chairman August Pfluger told Fox News Digital that the caravans know that there are “no consequences for illegal entry into the U.S.”
“The President’s policies have incentivized millions of illegal crossings, and I am extremely concerned about the heightened risk of terrorism due to the wide-open southern border. President Biden must enforce our existing laws to secure the border, disincentiveize illegal migration flows and safeguard our national security,” he said.
“The Biden administration has rolled out the welcome mat for migrants heading to the U.S., allowing for eight million to illegally cross under his watch so far,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said. “Now thousands more have set foot toward our country because according to the caravan’s leader, ‘Biden has lost control of the border.’”
Blackburn highlighted recent concerns about terrorism at the border, including record numbers of terror watchlist encounters: “This is an unacceptable national security and humanitarian crisis. With a 75% increase in terror watchlist apprehensions, we cannot afford to go another day with a wide-open and out-of-control southern border.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, who introduced the Senate version of the House-passed border and immigration legislation, said that the response by the upper chamber should be to pass that legislation “to build a wall and protect Americans from the ‘caravan’ of unvetted illegal aliens attempting to flood our border.”
“With the radical Islamic terrorism sweeping the Middle East, border security is now more important than ever. Just last year, 736 people on the terrorist watch list tried to get into our country — and those are just the ones we know about,” he said. “The Biden Border Crisis is threatening Americans, and this caravan is just the latest disaster in the long list of Biden’s failures.”
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.
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