November 4, 2021 by Samual Chamberlain
Nearly 100 congressional Republicans demanded Thursday that the Department of Homeland Security detail its plan for dealing with a caravan of migrants making its way through southern Mexico toward the US border.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas obtained exclusively by The Post, the lawmakers said they were “deeply concerned” about the situation and warned that border agents “are already overworked, undermanned, and under-supplied as a result of the influx of migrants this year.”
The letter, led by House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), also raised the specter of migrants attempting to force their way into the US after they pushed past a highway checkpoint manned by approximately 400 Mexican officers in the southern part of that country late last month.
“In the past year alone, U.S. Border Patrol has recordednearly 1.7 million migrant apprehensions at the southern border, which is the highest number of illegal crossings in history,” Cruz and Stefanik wrote. “If the Administration does not begin to appropriately respond to these caravans and the ongoing border crisis, these surges will surely continue.”
“Joe Biden’s failed border policies have created the worst crisis at our southern border in 30 years. These policies are now incentivizing mass caravans of illegals to head to our southern border,” Stefanik said in a statement. “Instead of addressing the root cause of our border crisis, the Biden Administration is doubling down on their failed policies. It is past time for the Biden Administration to take action to secure our southern border and our nation.”
The caravan is estimated to contain between 3,000 and 4,000 migrants, most from Central America and the Caribbean. Some estimates say the group includes up to 1,000 children.
A volunteer doctor told Reuter searlier this week that more than half of the caravan participants have some kind of illness, including possible cases of COVID-19. The Mexican government’s National Migration Institute confirmed that six people in the caravan had contracted dengue fever, five of them children.
Caravan organizers have rejected the Mexican government’s offer of visas in exchange for disbanding the march, claiming officials have failed to keep promises to help migrants in the past.
The latest surge is approaching the US weeks after thousands of migrants, many of them of Haitian origin, established a temporary encampmentunder a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, after overwhelming the border checkpoint there.
While thousands of illegal immigrants were rounded up from under the Del Rio bridge and deported to Haiti or voluntarily turned back into Mexico, DHS officials estimated that between 10,000 and 13,000 were released into the United States to wait for their asylum claims to be heard by US immigration courts.
The letter suggested that the Biden administration’s response to the Del Rio crisis had “incentivized” the latest caravan.
“President Biden and Vice President Harris’s political decisions and immigration policies have created a man-made crisis in South Texas cities like Del Rio — hurting local Texas officials, farmers, ranchers, and businesses who are running low on resources to address the massive influx of illegal immigrants in their communities,” Cruz said in a statement. “As another caravan heads to our southern border, President Biden and his administration must reverse these disastrous policies that have emboldened international criminal cartels, human traffickers, and drug smugglers, and enforce federal immigration law to secure the border.”
The letter asks Mayorkas to outline diplomatic efforts DHS is undertaking to prevent the caravan from reaching the border, as well as how the department is making sure “malign actors” — including potential terror suspects — are not part of the group.
In addition, the lawmakers are asking whether authorities will expel migrants, either under the public health authority known as Title 42 or if the new arrivals do not have “legal basis” to remain in the US.
“We must enforce our immigration laws as we do any other laws and ensure migrants in this caravan with nonexistent asylum claims will not be released into the United States,” the letter to Mayorkas concludes. “The safety of our American citizens and future migrants depends on your actions.”
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