By Lou Di Leonardo
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has repeatedly told Congress that the “border is secure,” and the White House continues to insist that this is true. However, facts on the ground demonstrate otherwise.
Almost 2.4 million illegal migrants were apprehended at the U.S. border with Mexico in fiscal year 2022. This is an historic high that doubled the previous record number of apprehensions from 2021.
The new Republican majority in the House of Representatives is promising to address the border crisis with oversight and legislative reforms. A serious step toward that end is the Border Safety and Security Act (H.R. 29) recently introduced by Representative Chip Roy (R-Texas). The bill creates a non-pandemic-related authority for DHS to turn away illegal aliens at the border. DHS would have the option to either detain asylum seekers pending their hearings, return them to the country from which they entered to await their hearings — as was done under the Remain in Mexico program — or return them to their home countries.
House leadership should move quickly to get Rep. Roy’s bill passed. The longer they wait the worse the border crisis will become as the Biden administration grows more emboldened in its flouting of the letter and intent of existing immigration laws by claiming its discretion to admit illegal immigrants — or to disguise them as legal by abusing parole authority — is unlimited.
A handful of House Republicans are standing in the way of getting Rep. Roy’s bill passed, arguing that it would totally prevent foreign nationals from making asylum claims.
This is completely false. It would only require DHS to comply with existing law and detain asylum seekers until they have a hearing with an immigration judge. Right now, the Biden administration is using the asylum system as cover to release hundreds of thousands of individuals into the United States who make frivolous or fraudulent asylum claims, in many cases granting them work authorization.
If Rep. Roy’s bill clears the House, it will put pressure on the Democrat-controlled Senate to take it up. As Secretary Mayorkas becomes increasingly defiant of Congress and with an eye toward the 2024 election, with voters already heavily favoring Republicans on immigration, will vulnerable Democrats reject a commonsense approach to stemming the border crisis?
There remain other remedies that must be applied. Congress should prohibit migrants who have passed through a safe third country from claiming asylum in the United States. No doubt many who are arriving at our southern border are seeking a better life, and many are hoping to escape poverty or other deplorable conditions back home — but these are not legal conditions for asylum. Congress must respect and reiterate the original intent of the asylum system to prevent future abuses by the executive branch.
There is no good reason for members of Congress who say they want to stop the flow of illegal immigration into the United States to oppose Rep. Roy’s border bill. They should enthusiastically promote and support it.
Lou Di Leonardo is a resident of Fairfax County, Virginia, who served as a founding member of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This column first appeared in Fox News Opinion at www.FoxNews.com.