Weekly Columns

In the early days of the Biden administration, the president signaled his intent to reverse border security rules that deterred immigrants from crossing the southern border illegally, “Migrant numbers increase along US-Mexico border as they await Biden’s immigration action” one news outlet underscored. As a result of these open border policies within the last year we’ve experienced record border crossings, overflowing detention centers and the release of single adult migrants into the U.S., among many other problems. 

More than two million illegal immigrants were caught attempting to cross the border last year. If the Biden administration doesn’t get serious about securing the border, we’re on pace to repeat or exceed this troubling figure in 2022.  

Unfortunately, there is no indication the president is prioritizing this national security crisis. Instead, he continues to talk about his partisan tax-and-spending plan that won’t advance in the Senate while his immigration policies are making every state a border state.  

Recent media reports indicate Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been releasing large numbers of single adult illegal immigrants into communities across the country. This is outrageous. It’s wrong for the administration to approve using taxpayer dollars to fly illegal immigrants around the country. My colleagues and I are pressing Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for answers concerning this alarming practice. 

Just as reckless is the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA)’s practice permitting illegal immigrants to use immigration enforcement documents, such as arrest warrants, as identification when boarding commercial flights. This is not only shocking but dangerous.

These irresponsible practices are why I’ve taken legislative action to end this policy. I was proud to join with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to introduce the Strengthening Enforcement to Curtail Unlawful, Risky Entrance to Flights Act, or SECURE Flights Act of 2022. Our legislation would clarify DHS-issued documents, such as arrest or deportation warrants, are not valid for commercial airline travel.

Additionally, if a traveler presents one of those documents, the SECURE Flights Act would require TSA agents to notify ICE, Customs and Border Protection and local law enforcement to determine whether the individual is in violation of any terms of release. If that is the case, the traveler will not be allowed to fly, with the exception of an individual traveling for purposes of self-deportation.  

This practice threatens the safety of air travelers and all citizens, and it must end. While the administration can change the policy, it’s failure to secure the border demonstrates it’s unlikely to take action to prevent this abuse from continuing.  

For border patrol officers, the administration’s policies are a betrayal that has created disconcertingly low morale, with some border patrol officers choosing to leave the job rather than follow directives that fly in the face of the rule of law. 

These men and women have answered the call to protect and serve. They put their lives at risk to enforce the law and arrest people illegally crossing the border only to have the administration approve the release of the very criminals they’ve locked up.  

I urge President Biden to reinstate effective strategies implemented by President Trump that discouraged illegal immigration like the Remain in Mexico policy that required illegal immigrants to stay in Mexico until their asylum cases are decided, and finish construction of the border wall while investing in technology that reinforces the southern border. It’s long past time for President Biden to take responsibility for this threat to our national security.