Legislation Would Require the Biden Administration to Release Data on Unlawful Migrant Release Programs
WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) joined Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), along with 24 other Senate Republican colleagues, in introducing the Southern Border Transparency Act, legislation to require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to accurately report to the American people how it is handling migrants encountered at the border, the number of migrants being released into the United States by the Biden Administration, and information detailing where migrants to the U.S. are coming from.
“The Biden Administration has created an unprecedented national security and humanitarian crisis on our southern border,” said Senator Hagerty. “It is no longer ‘catch-and-release,’ but rather ‘welcome-and release.’ The policies they are putting in place only accelerate the processing of migrants, and this legislation will allow the American people to see just how bad the crisis at the border has become.”
“The Biden administration has gone to great lengths to hide record levels of illegal immigration at the southern border, but Americans deserve to know exactly how many migrants are being released into our country,” said Senator Cornyn. “This legislation would shine a bright light on President Biden’s catch-and-release practices and reveal the devastating consequences of this administration’s unlawful actions.”
The Biden Administration’s strategy for handling the influx of migrants at the border has been to funnel them into so-called “parole” or other unlawful mass release programs, including the Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan parole program, an expanded Central American Minors program that now includes adults, and the likely widespread use of parole at Ports of Entry (POEs). These migrants are eligible for work authorization, and there is limited visibility into whether they ultimately depart the United States.
The Southern Border Transparency Act would require DHS to fully report on how it is handling migrants encountered at the border, including:
- The number of migrants paroled at each POE and in each Border Patrol sector;
- The number of migrants apprehended at each POE and in each Border Patrol sector and how many were granted voluntary departure, placed into expedited removal, or simply released into the interior;
- The number of petitions for parole received and granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); and
- The total number of migrants paroled into the United States each fiscal year, whether they are granted work authorization, and whether they ultimately depart the United States when their parole expires.
Earlier this year, the Biden Administration acted without Congress’ consent to create programs that allow for hundreds of thousands of migrants to be paroled and released into the United States annually. One allows migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to legally remain in the U.S. for two years and offers work authorizations to up to 360,000 people a year. The administration has also released more than 266,000 migrants who scheduled immigration appointments with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) through the CBP One app, including individuals from Iran, China, and Russia. These practices result in decreased apprehensions, but do not decrease the number of migrants with unrealistic asylum claims who are entering and remaining in the United States. Separately, the administration is releasing an unknown number of individuals under the label of “humanitarian release,” although it is unclear who qualifies. Although some migrants are placed into expedited removal proceedings, most are released into the interior of the U.S. before DHS even determines whether they will make asylum claims, let alone whether those claims are even credible on their face.