WASHINGTON— Today, Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) led nine of his House Republican colleagues in sending a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Tae Johnson, urging them to address the ICE budget shortfall and consider the impact this will have on our already deteriorating southern border. Mullin highlights the increase in human smuggling and the loss of human life the administration’s open border policies have led to thus far.
Mullin is joined by Reps. Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Ralph Norman (SC-05), Jim Banks (IN-03), Jay Obernolte (CA-08), Ronny Jackson (TX-13), Scott DesJarlais, (TN-04) Debbie Lesko (AZ-08), and Richard Hudson (NC-08) on the letter.
The full text of the letter can be found here and below.
Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Director Tae Johnson:
We write with grave concern regarding the status of the southern border. It is clear that the situation is continuing to deteriorate rapidly, putting our communities at risk. This administration’s policies of amnesty, catch and release, and low security have directly led to the current border catastrophe. To make matters worse, Axios recently reported that U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is estimated to have a $345 million budget shortfall and funding for this agency is projected to run out before October. Words matter, the push from the left to defund ICE and open our borders has led to a flood of illegal immigrants and a poorly funded enforcement agency that has been unable to handle the influx.
The situation at the border has reached a new low. Many of Mexico’s most lethal drug cartels are exploiting the open border to smuggle humans across as well. More than 5,046 people were arrested and charged with human smuggling last year, up from 2,762 in 2014. The New York Times reported this week that this is estimated to be a $13 billion business, up from $500 million in 2018. It is absolutely absurd that human smuggling across the southern border has turned into a multi-billion-dollar enterprise.
The horrors of these drug cartels such as torture, rape, and murder had previously been common only in Mexican border cities but are now becoming prevalent on the U.S. side of the border as well. Those who participate in these practices have zero regard for human life. Last year, 650 illegal immigrants died crossing the border, more than any other year, and current data from the United Nations shows we are on track to exceed those numbers this year. Nothing makes this clearer than the tragedy last month that left 53 illegal immigrants dead in the back of a semi-truck. There is a clear human cost of these open border policies, and we should all be united in keeping these criminal organizations out of our country.
We cannot discuss the tragic outcomes of these policies without discussing the unrelenting fentanyl crisis. The Drug Enforcement Agency seized more than 20 million counterfeit pills last year, enough fentanyl came across the border to kill the population of the U.S. seven times over, and overdose deaths topped 100,000 for the first time. Just this year, Colorado has seized more fentanyl from January to May than all of last year combined. The open border policies that are being pushed by this Administration are emboldening these cartels and putting our communities at risk.
During this tumultuous time, ICE is facing a funding crisis. As the agency that protects Americans from cross-border crime and illegal immigration, now is clearly not the time for a funding cliff. It has been reported that the Administration is planning to redirect $100 million from the Coast Guard to go toward the budget shortfall as well as possibly $80 million from other internal funds. Pulling funding from the Coast Guard as the U.S. sees boatloads of illegal immigrants from Haiti attempting to enter the country is irresponsible. Regardless, this still leaves a $165 million shortfall, and ICE isn’t the only agency in need of extra funding within the Department of Homeland Security. As the country continues to see record high border crossings, ICE will continue to need more funds. It is fiscally and morally irresponsible to continue to push policies that allow illegal immigrants to flow into our country.
We call on this Administration to do better. You must reverse course, ensure full funding for ICE, and get the border under control. Stop emboldening dangerous criminal organizations and protect American communities.