Multiple Trump-era Homeland Security officials are claiming a new Senate border and immigration bill will be a “disaster” for border security despite claims from supporters that it would help stem the migrant crisis.
“The bill negotiated by three Senators and President Biden funds and facilitates more mass illegal immigration,” the officials said in a report. “It is a disaster for border security.”
The officials are former Customs and Border Protection (CBP) acting Commissioner Mark Morgan, former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan, former U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Joe Edlow and former acting deputy Homeland Security Chief of Staff Lora Ries. All are fellows at The Heritage Foundation.
The $118 billion supplemental spending deal package was released late and includes funding for Ukraine and Israel and $20 billion in funding for the border and immigration.
It includes a new temporary emergency border authority to mandate Title 42-style expulsions of migrants when migration levels exceed 5,000 a day over a seven-day rolling average. And it narrows asylum eligibility while expediting the process, provides additional work permits for asylum seekers and funds a massive increase in staffing at the border.
It also increases temporary visas and green cards, while establishing an expedited pathway for Afghans who were evacuated to the U.S. The legislation also includes $1.4 billion in FEMA funding for non-governmental organizations and cities to help settle migrants and $650 million to build and reinforce the border wall. It will also provide $450 million to countries to help them remove and integrate illegal immigrants back into their countries.
“The result of all this hard work as a bipartisan agreement represents the most fair, humane reforms in our immigration system in a long time and the toughest set of reforms to secure the border ever,” President Biden claimed Tuesday.
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., an author of the package, said the bill “changes our border from catch and release to detain and deport.”
But the bill has hit a buzzsaw of conservative opposition in the House and Senate and among conservative groups. Some of the officials were part of a letter released Tuesday calling for congressional leaders to scrap the deal.
In the report, the former officials point to the funding for non-governmental organizations and cities, including “sanctuary” jurisdictions, to receive migrants released into the U.S. They argue that “machinery” should be shut down, not given more money to operate.
They also say the bill “accepts and codifies crisis levels of daily illegal immigration” with the current levels of the border emergency authority. They note that the authority is limited, with the secretary only being able to activate the authority for 180 days by year three and allowing for it to be suspended for 45 days.
“Continuing to allow these crisis-level numbers of illegal-alien encounters means that border agents would remain overwhelmed, and more illegal crossers would evade the agents — turning into ‘gotaways’ — and bad actors would slip through limited and rushed vetting,” they say.
Despite claims by supporters of the bill that the measures would lead to an increase in expedited removals and therefore fewer releases into the interior, the officials say that the bill would continue “catch and release” and end the statute requiring detention by changing detention to “noncustodial detention,” applying it only to adults.
“If passed into law, families and children would be released without supervision. Worse, the bill codifies the Flores settlement agreement, as interpreted by a single U.S. district judge in California, who ruled that unaccompanied aliens could not be in immigration detention longer than 20 days. She later expanded her ruling to accompanied aliens, meaning families,” they say.
They also object to provisions expanding what they call “mass parole abuse” by the administration and for accelerating work permits for those released into the U.S. The officials also note that numerous inclusions, for instance an expansion of green cards and measures for “documented Dreamers,” are not directly related to the border.
They also say Biden does not need to have legislation to secure the border despite claims from the White House.
“President Joe Biden opened the border and created the country’s crisis using only executive, not congressional, authority. He can end the chaos with the same executive authority; he does not need congressional authority,” they say.