Contact: Caroline Tabler or James Arnold (202) 224-2353
March 19, 2021 

Cotton, Colleagues Demand Information about Extent of Crisis and Government Response

“Secretary Mayorkas and the Biden Administration view the flood of illegal immigration resulting from their policies as a process to be managed rather than stopped” 

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and seven Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee today pressed Biden officials for information about how the administration is responding to the crisis amid the ongoing pandemic.

"If you let them in, more will come. That’s the critical failing of President Biden’s current policy. The word is out that our borders are open, and the Biden Border Crisis will continue to get worse until the administration changes course," said Cotton.

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, the senators highlighted the serious problems with Biden administration proposals and actions that have both encouraged more migrants to make the dangerous journey across Mexico to the southern border and allowed for the quicker release of individuals into the interior of the country as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“Regardless of what the Biden Administration wants to call this current set of circumstances it has created, this surge in illegal immigration carries significant risks. It also imposes a heavy burden on public resources. Congress and the American people must have additional clarity about how DHS and HHS are addressing it,” the senators wrote.

Each of the last two months has set records for both overall numbers of immigrant apprehensions and numbers of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) crossings. The Biden administration has lifted the public health restrictions under Title 42 for UAC, and has used the surge at the border to justify its reinstatement of “catch and release” policies.

“Catch-and-release policies pose additional risks to public health in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  The Biden Administration has expressed a purported commitment to ending the pandemic; however, news reports suggest that it now plans to keep some who are apprehended by DHS personnel in custody for just 72 hours before releasing them into American communities,” the senators continued.

The letter seeks a wide range of information from both the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) including, a breakdown of how many individuals have been detained since inauguration day, the numbers of those tested and vaccinated for COVID-19, and the duration of time individuals are in custody before and after testing. The senators also request DHS’s projections for how many migrants will cross the border this year, and the medical reasons for exempting UACs from Title 42 entry restrictions.

Senator Cotton was joined by Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senators Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) and John Kennedy (R-Louisiana).

Full text of the letter can be found here.