MISSION, Texas — Ten Republican governors visited the U.S.-Mexico border Wednesday to blame President Joe Biden for creating the crisis there and to lay out a 10-point plan for reversing his policies and stopping the surge of migrants.
The governors said that the Biden White House has refused to acknowledge their concerns about the decline of security at the southern border. The rise in human smuggling, now at the highest level in two decades, is hurting their states, they said, even those 1,000 miles away from the border.
“President Joe Biden has caused a humanitarian crisis and chaos on our border,” Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said.
The governors on-site — Abbott, Doug Ducey of Arizona, Brian Kemp of Georgia, Brad Little of Idaho, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Greg Gianforte of Montana, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, and Mark Gordon of Wyoming — laid out a plan to reinstate many of former President Donald Trump’s immigration and border strategies. The policies would “restore security and end the crisis,” according to a copy of a document shared with the Washington Examiner before the press conference.
At the top of the list, the governors call for Biden to commit to continuing Title 42 expulsions, a pandemic-era protocol that allowed for the immediate return of border-crossers to Mexico or their country of origin rather than placement in custody. The Biden administration vowed to end Title 42 as the pandemic improved but has yet to do so. However, the majority of families who come across the border are not being expelled but released into the United States, even though at one point 20% of migrants tested positive for the coronavirus after being released.
The GOP coalition wants to see federal law enforcement and military units from other agencies sent to the border, as Border Patrol agents who normally guard the international boundary have been pulled from those duties to transport and process people in custody. Those seeking asylum should be turned away and required to live in Mexico while they go through legal proceedings rather than be released into the U.S., the governors said.
They also called for the end of "catch and release," a term used to describe how illegal immigrants are effectively taken into custody but let into the U.S. rather than removed. They said that all criminals in the U.S. should be priorities for deportation, referencing changes the Biden administration made easing Trump-era operations.
Many of the governors have deployed their own state National Guard troops to the Texas border and want the federal government to reimburse them for those costs. They also asked for notification from federal officials when unaccompanied children and families are flown or bused to their states.
The nine governors on-site, minus Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, who was in Mission but unable to attend the press conference, were among 26 governors nationwide who sent a letter to Biden on Sept. 20 calling a meeting to find a solution to the border crisis, which began in March. Ducey's office said that the White House did not acknowledge the letter.
“We've tried to meet with the president and be a part of the solution, but he refuses," Ducey said. "Even worse, he ignores us just like he's ignoring the border and the well-being of the American people.”
The nine governors chose to meet in Mission, which is part of the Rio Grande Valley region of south Texas. The "Valley," as local residents refer to it, has seen more than 500,000 people illegally enter the U.S. from Mexico in the past 12 months, and the large majority crossed after Biden took office.
Of the nine areas into which the Border Patrol divides the southern border, the Rio Grande Valley has seen more illegal immigration than any other in recent years, in part because it is the southernmost point of the U.S. and the shortest distance from Central America, where most people taken into custody are traveling from.
The governors' full Joint Policy Framework on the Border Crisis is copied below:
1. Continue Title 42 public health restrictions: The Biden Administration should continue to invoke Title 42 to refuse entry to individuals coming into the country due to the COVID-19 public health risk, which was initially issued by the previous administration. Title 42 currently expels approximately 44% of apprehensions. In July, more than 18% of migrant families and 20% of unaccompanied minors tested positive for COVID-19 upon being released from Border Patrol custody. Reports estimate that the Biden Administration has placed approximately 40,000 COVID-19 positive migrants into American cities.
2. Dedicate federal resources to eradicate human trafficking and drug trafficking: Due to the rapid increase of cartel activity, the Biden Administration should dedicate additional resources to eradicate the surge in human trafficking and drug trafficking, arrest offenders, support victims, and get dangerous drugs—like fentanyl and methamphetamine—off our streets.
3. Resume the deportation of all criminals: The Biden Administration should enforce all deportation laws of criminally convicted illegal aliens. Upon taking office, President Biden issued an Executive Order ordering the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prioritize only the deportation of aggravated felons, gang members, or terrorists, leaving other criminals to remain in the United States.
4. Re-enter all agreements with our Northern Triangle partners and Mexico: President Biden should re-enter the prior administration’s agreement with the Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) and Mexico. The countries agreed to enforce their respective borders, fix their asylum systems, and receive migrants seeking asylum before they journey north to the United States. Upon taking office, President Biden issued an Executive Order terminating the agreements.
5. Provide notice and transparency to states on unaccompanied minors and migrants: The Biden Administration should instruct the Office of Refugee Resettlement to notify states when the federal government is transporting migrants who will be reliant upon their state’s social safety net. Currently, an unknown number of migrants, including unaccompanied minor children, are being secretly transported into states without notice to those who will ultimately have to provide resources to them, such as healthcare, education, benefits, and more.
6. Send a clear message to potential migrants: President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Biden Administration officials at every level should state clearly and unequivocally that our country’s borders are not open and that migrants seeking economic opportunity should not attempt to abuse or misuse the asylum process. Prior to and after taking office, President Biden blatantly encouraged illegal immigrants to come to the United States.
7. Deploy more federal law enforcement officers and National Guard troops: Due to overwhelming needs at the border, the Biden Administration should deploy more and provide greater resources to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. In line with the prior four presidents who deployed National Guard troops to the border, the Biden Administration should request additional military assistance and invoke Title X to reimburse states for their troops serving at the border. Due to a lack of federal resources, Arizona and Texas have had to initiate an Emergency Management Assistance Compact to request law enforcement resources directly from states, receiving offers from eight states, to arrest and detain illegal trespassers.
8. End catch and release and clear the judicial backlog: The Biden Administration should end the Obama-era policy of catching and releasing apprehended migrants into U.S. cities along the South Texas border, leaving illegal immigrants paroled and able to travel anywhere in the country. In addition, the Biden Administration should dedicate additional judges and resources to our U.S. immigration courts to end the growing backlog and expedite court appearances for illegal migrants. Reports indicate backlogged cases total more than 1 million, the most ever. Upon taking office, President Biden issued an Executive Order reinstating catch and release policies that incentivize illegal immigration and make deportation laws difficult to enforce.
9. Fully reinstate the Migrant Protection Protocols: The Biden Administration should comply with recent federal court rulings and fully reinstate the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) established by the prior administration, which require asylum seekers to return to Mexico to await their court hearing outside of the United States, serving as a deterrent to cross. Upon taking office, President Biden issued a directive to terminate the MPP, and although litigation may continue, the Biden Administration should halt any attempts to appeal and fully reinstate the policy
10. Finish securing the border: The Biden Administration should reopen construction contracts to continue building the border wall and invest in infrastructure and technology, such as lights, sensors, or access roads, to complete the border security system. Upon taking office, President Biden terminated the national emergency at the border, stopped all border construction, and redirected funds to build the wall.