As Republicans approach the 100-day mark since taking control of the House of Representatives, the party has little to show on its promise to end the crisis at the border. An attempt in early January never came together, stalled by infighting.
Five Republican aides directly involved in legislative efforts dealing with border security spoke out this week about the situation and the party’s subsequent attempt to move legislation forward.
The bill was crafted from a framework developed by the American Security Task Force, created by leadership in mid-2021. In July of last year, the group of lawmakers, primarily made up of border lawmakers, announced they had agreed on a framework for the legislation that may win full party support.
“We’re going to be very aggressive, and I think the administration will have some choices to make,” said GOP Representative John Katko of New York at the time.
The July bill has been reworked into a new proposal from legislators in the next few weeks. The bill will then follow the proposal, which champions the need for infrastructure, technology, and a physical barrier on the 2,000-mile southern border with Mexico. Although the Trump administration funded 800 miles of border wall projects, only 450 miles had been completed when he left office.
The GOP wants to boost staffing levels at U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The 60,000-person federal agency is tasked with apprehending people attempting to enter the U.S. illegally and inspecting vehicles. The new plan calls for the clearing out carrizo cane, or tall grass, that grows along hundreds of miles of the Rio Grande in Texas and makes it hard for Border Patrol agents to walk or see through.
Additionally, the American Security Task Force calls for the enhanced use of initiatives from the Trump era, including returning asylum-seekers to Mexico for the entirety of the court proceedings. Families illegally crossing the border would not be released into the United States after being apprehended but detained together.
Migrant children who are unaccompanied and from countries other than Canada or Mexico would no longer be allowed to enter the country as possible victims of human trafficking.
Republican progress on fixing the border was delayed after a dramatic battle for the speaker position in January. The numerous rounds of voting resulted in now Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy promising to fast-track some of his dissenters’ border legislation.
New legislation to focus on overhaul of border policies
A seven-bill series was considered the avenue Republicans would take to push through its border agenda.
One bill, authored by GOP Representative Chip Roy of Texas, would require the Department of Homeland Security to “suspend the entry of any non-U.S. nationals, (aliens under federal law) without valid entry documents during any period when DHS cannot detain such an individual or return the individual to a foreign country contiguous to the United States.”
Over the past couple of months, amid bickering, the House Homeland Security Committee has been building its overhaul of border policies.
“This legislation will reflect a deep understanding of the ins and outs of the dire problems at the border and the policy changes required to address this crisis effectively,” said GOP House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green of Tennessee. “There are no quick fixes, and we intend to propose legislation that offers long-term, workable solutions.”