Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) joined Republican Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in a letter calling on Biden to use his “full authorities” in response to the border crisis.
The two Senators urged Biden to use his “full authorities to effectively respond to and successfully manage the ongoing crisis at our Southwest Border.” The two of them insist Biden in taking the needed “aggressive steps” to “protect our communities and ensure migrants are treated fairly and humanely” to secure the border.
I’ve been talking to officials in border communities who are already rising to the challenge, but the Biden Administration needs to step up and do its part. Read the letter → https://t.co/PDGv5QCoDK
— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) March 22, 2021
Sinema and Cornyn pledged to work with their Congressional colleagues in “developing bipartisan and commonsense responses to the surge of migrants at the border,” with hopes to work with all levels of the administration.
The Senators whose states are on the southern border continued:
Your administration should take immediate action in two areas: ensuring there are sufficient resources and facilities at the border to manage the crisis and taking concrete steps to improve the asylum process. Both of these are critical to improving how our nation manages this situation.
The Border Patrol Sectors in our Southwest Border states have reported alarming increases of individuals seeking entry into the U.S. in recent weeks. Per Secretary Mayorkas, DHS is on pace to encounter more individuals at the border this fiscal year than in the past 20 years. As of the end of February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported that it had already encountered 382,617 individuals at the border since the start of the fiscal year in October, compared to 405,036 encounters in all of Fiscal Year 2020. This highlights the need to increase appropriate resources and qualified staffing at the Southwest Border to meet this challenge. This ultimately will help secure the border and keep local communities and migrants safe. DHS’s recent decision to task the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with providing short-term assistance to CBP and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide safe housing and care for Unaccompanied Children (UACs) is one constructive effort that we hope your Administration will replicate elsewhere.
They also acknowledged that today’s border crisis is similar to the surges that have happened over the past decade on the border:
Current facilities and services are insufficient to handle the present challenge. It is critical that every effort be made to improve living conditions for the individuals being held by DHS. It is clear that DHS needs to improve coordination and cooperation among its various components, other federal agencies (particularly with Department of Justice and HHS), and with local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
The two Senators reveal their support for “DHS creating regional processing facilities,” which would include personnel from agencies such as “CBP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), FEMA, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and HHS.”
This would help the facilities have an “effective and rapid collaboration on issues such as identity verification, medical screenings, credible fear determinations, and asylum interviews.
“We must start improving the asylum process now so we can better manage the ongoing and future border surges,” they urged, bringing light to the backlog of current immigration, which already totals “over 1.2 million cases in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2021, and nearly half of those cases involved an asylum claim.”
The two Senators continued to urge Biden to work together in the “ongoing crisis.” Mentioning the bordering communities and the NGOs have risen to the challenges, it’s a dire need the federal government does so as well, they maintain. The Senators will work on a bipartisan agreement with their colleagues and the administration to “improve the situation on our border and keep our communities safe.”