WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, House Budget Committee Republican Leader Jason Smith (MO-08) led a group of Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives to McAllen, Texas – the largest group of members to visit the border since President Biden took office – to learn more about the financial and humanitarian cost of the Biden Administration’s failure to secure the U.S. southern border.
“As the lead Republican on the House Budget Committee, it is my job to investigate where and when Americans are being asked to hand over large sums of their tax dollars,” said House Budget Committee Republican Leader Smith. “The cost to American taxpayers of the crisis at our southern border is already in the tens of billions. With illegal immigrant housing, migrant care items, childcare items, rusting border wall materials, and more, we are truly only beginning to scratch the surface of how much this crisis is truly costing taxpayers. That is why my Republican colleagues and I came to the border to hear firsthand from those on the front lines of President Biden’s border crisis.
“Border Patrol agents are working around the clock to deal with a massive influx of illegal immigrants. A job that has become even harder with the fake reimplementation of the ‘stay in Mexico’ policy and which will only become worse if the Administration succeeds in lifting Title 42. At the processing center we visited yesterday, roughly half of the illegal immigrants in custody would be returned to their home countries under Title 42. Without that policy, each one of those individuals would instead be released in the U.S. All the while President Biden continues to violate the Budget Control Act of 1974 and illegally freeze wall construction funding – funding that was passed on a bipartisan basis. His actions have emboldened the cartels that are making $32 million a day from illegally trafficking individuals, and it has also left $350 million worth of border wall materials sitting unused while a national security and humanitarian crisis is unfolding.”
The Republican delegation visited the U.S. Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Sector Centralized Processing Center as well as the Donna Processing Facility, toured the processing and medical screening procedures of both facilities which included a discussion on surveillance capabilities and border barrier systems. During the visit to the RGV, members were informed that the RGV sector alone experiences 10,000 encounters every 7 days and that more than 50 percent of their staff had to be repositioned off of direct patrols of the border to instead help with processing illegal immigrants into the United States. They were also told that the RGV sector has seen immigrants from 71 different countries with 174 different countries across all sectors. The members asked what Biden’s proposed budget cuts of $800 million to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s budget for FY2023 would mean for their agency, and the answer was simple: less beds, meaning even quicker catch and release, and less return flights back to Mexico and Central America to deport illegal immigrants.
While on the border, the Republican members visited a portion of the border wall constructed under President Trump’s leadership as well as the gaps in the wall caused by President Biden’s decision to halt construction of the border wall and freeze the use of $1.4 billion in funding passed by bipartisan majorities in Congress. They learned how simple repairs like gating off tunnels being built under the wall by cartels requires intensive waivers from Washington to guarantee it is not new wall construction.
In the afternoon, the Republican delegation received a briefing from the Texas Department of Public Safety on the Department’s “Operation Lone Star” – an effort initiated by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to address the growing illegal immigration and other criminal activities occurring along the border. They were told that the operation there alone is spending $2.5 million per week to pick up the tab for where the federal government has failed Texas. Members also had the opportunity to visit a lot where miles and miles of $350 million worth of unused border wall sat stacked 20 feet high just rusting away.
Later in the day, the Republican delegation participated in a boat tour of the Rio Grande to see how state and federal law enforcement are battling the flow of illegal immigrants and illicit drugs on multiple fronts. The day concluded with a roundtable discussion with Mayor of McAllen, TX Javier Villalobos and other local officials and law enforcement on the impact of illegal immigration on border communities.
In addition to House Budget Committee Republican Leader Smith, the Republican delegation included:
- Rep. Glenn Grothman (WI-06)
- Rep. Lloyd Smucker (PA-11)
- Rep. Chris Jacobs (NY-27)
- Rep. Michael Burgess (TX-26)
- Rep. Buddy Carter (GA-01)
- Rep. Ben Cline (VA-06)
- Rep. Bob Good (VA-05)
- Rep. Ashley Hinson (IA-01)
- Rep. Jay Obernolte (CA-08)
- Rep. Mike Carey (OH-15)
- Rep. John Joyce (PA-13)