As Congress kicked back into session following the Thanksgiving break, Republican lawmakers are making their position crystal clear regarding continued aid to Ukraine: if the Biden administration wants billions of additional dollars for Ukraine’s war against Russia, it must include legislation to provide solutions for the spiraling crisis at America’s southern border.
Since President Biden took office in January 2021, the explosion of illegal immigrants flooding America’s southern border has been unlike anything seen in the history of the U.S. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the total number of apprehensions of illegal border crossers from 2021 through fiscal year 2023 is a staggering 8.3 million. This does not count the number of individuals who escaped capture (gotaways) during the same time period, which is estimated at 1.7 million. Therefore, the number of illegal border crossers during Biden’s presidency so far is over 10 million, a total that is larger than the individual populations of 41 states.
Notably, this number includes 1,586 known or suspected terrorists (KSTs) that were apprehended. In fiscal year 2023, 736 KSTs were captured, the largest number ever recorded in a single year. In addition, almost 50,000 criminal noncitizens were apprehended during fiscal year 2023, the largest total in history. Alarmingly, the 1.7 million gotaways over the last three years is only an estimate, so it is unknown how many more KSTs and other criminal noncitizens managed to escape detection and enter the U.S. interior.
The rate of illegal border crossers shows no signs of slowing. On Monday, Fox News reported on trains seen in Mexico heading to the U.S. with hundreds of migrants openly riding on the top of rail cars. In addition, CBP announced they would be temporarily shutting down vehicle processing at ports of entry in Texas and Arizona in order to redirect personnel to assist the U.S. Border Patrol in taking illegal border crossers into custody. Just last week, CBP reported 15,300 illegal crossings at the Tucson Sector in Arizona, the highest ever weekly total.
The crisis has led Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), to demand that the Biden White House do something to stem the tide as a condition of continuing to aid Ukraine in its war with Russia. On Monday, Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) joined “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” to discuss the situation.
“[We need more than] just legislative fixes, because we have a lawless administration,” he contended. “We have a president that wants an open border. And so we do need to change the law … [such as a] Return to Mexico policy … but we absolutely must make any funding to Ukraine contingent on actually securing the border. And that means benchmarks, metrics. The metric we should use is [the] number of migrants entering America, no matter how they come in, whether they’re encountered and processed and released, or whether we detect them as gotaways. … So, no [Ukraine] funding until you actually achieve those benchmarks on a month-by-month basis.”
Johnson went on to argue that the border crisis will not be solved simply by throwing more money at the issue, which the Biden administration has argued in favor of.
“[Q]uite honestly, providing this administration more money at the border, they’re just going to speed up the processing and dispersing,” he pointed out. “That’s been their whole goal. That’s why they think their policy is [a] success. [They say] we don’t have a crisis on the border. [They]’ve just gotten really efficient at encountering, processing, dispersing more than six million illegal immigrants into this country during their administration. So no, we don’t need [to give them more] money for the border.”
As to the question of whether at least 41 GOP senators will hold the line on the southern border crisis, Johnson expressed uncertainty, while also emphasizing the severity of the border issue.
“I’ve been making the point now for literally months that we need to stop taking whatever the Democrats want and finding just enough Republicans to join them to pass their priorities,” he underscored. “That has to end … particularly when you’re looking at an open border being a clear and present danger to America. Democrats [and] the president obviously want funding for Ukraine. A lot of Republicans do. I’m certainly sympathetic with the courageous people of Ukraine. But what must come first is our own homeland, our own national security. … So you’ve got to set your priorities, and our top priority has to be to secure that border. This is the only leverage we have with a lawless administration. We must use that leverage. And so all we have to do is make sure that 41 Republicans deny cloture on any bill that doesn’t include strong metrics that require … President Biden to secure the border [and] meet those metrics before money starts flowing.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.
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