Story by Anna Giaritelli
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) went a step further than GOP leadership in his proposal to end the crisis at the nation’s borders, where federal law enforcement has encountered illegal immigrants approximately 5 million times since President Joe Biden took office.
Crenshaw, a top contender to take over the House Homeland Security Committee, said the historic crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border can be handled with one major change followed by several other twists. The plan may be able to appeal to both parties and includes ideas that centrist Democrats on the border have endorsed.
“Let’s solve the border crisis in one tweet. Instead of spending billions more on ‘processing,’ spend more money on jet fuel. Pack planes full of migrants who cross illegally and deport them immediately. The crisis will end within months,” Crenshaw wrote in a string of tweets Monday evening.
“In summary: fund airplanes, holding facilities, immigration judges, ICE prosecutors, walls, and technology capable of detecting fentanyl. And stop the abuses of our asylum system. That’s what border security would look like,” he wrote.
The approach breaks with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) proposal before the election, which ran along the lines of re-implementing a slew of Trump administration policies that Biden rescinded.
Although Republicans and some Democrats have called on the Biden administration not to cease using a pandemic policy that allows illegal immigrants to be immediately sent back to Mexico, Crenshaw said approaches akin to Title 42 are flawed.
“Why not just turn them away when they cross? Many have asked why Texas doesn’t do that. Because we have a river. Once they’re in the river, they’re within our jurisdiction. We can’t physically secure the Rio Grande. Even if we did turn them back, they’d cross somewhere else,” Crenshaw said. “So you need jet fuel. You need to be sending people far away from the border, thus making it unimaginable for someone to make the journey all the way north if they’re just gonna be sent back home.”
Migration to the United States has surged since Biden took office and was affected by major hits to Latin American economies. Prior to the pandemic, most immigrants apprehended for unlawfully entering the country were from northern Central America and Mexico.
Over the past two years, people from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela have become some of the top arrivals. Citizens from those three countries cannot be flown back because the sending country must be willing to take back its citizens, and none of the three are.
Crenshaw called on the State Department to make deals with the uncooperative governments and force them to accept planeloads of people daily.
“And if the State Department can’t negotiate agreements for repatriation (think Cuba and Venezuela)? Then versions of Remain in Mexico policy must be aggressively pursued. Trump did this by threatening Mexico with tariffs. It worked,” Crenshaw said.
For immigrants who want to seek asylum in the U.S., the government should make doing so at consulates and embassies feasible. Immigrants who seek asylum in the U.S. would be barred if they passed through another country and did not first seek refuge there, a policy that former President Donald Trump had begun to roll out as part of the Asylum Cooperative Agreements.
“The truth is, the ‘compassion’ of Democrats open borders has allowed so much abuse to take place of our asylum system that the backlog is well over a million,” Crenshaw continued. “This means that real asylum seekers around the world have almost no chance of getting into the system.”
Last year, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) introduced the Safe Zone Act, which stands up processes for all asylum-seekers to get help at U.S. buildings in their home countries, as well as returning illegal immigrants via plane.
“My proposal is to do everything that we’re doing on our border, on the border of Guatemala and Mexico, and create a safe zone where migrants who are coming into this country from south of Mexico … would have to go to the safe zone and check in there and get processed at that juncture,” Gonzalez told the Washington Examiner ahead of the 2022 election.
The four-term lawmaker said he negotiated the deal with the president of Guatemala and has proposed it to Vice President Kamala Harris, who had not shown any interest in his solution. The proposal, he contends, would eliminate human smuggling through Mexico, drying up billions of dollars in annual business for the Mexican cartels, and it would “take the pressure” off the southern border.
Last July, House Republicans debuted a comprehensive plan to regain control of the southern border that they would implement if they took back the House or Senate.
The Republican plan pulled from previous initiatives used by the Trump administration and was meant to address the state of the border before conceding to the Democrats’ demands on providing solutions for people living in the country illegally.
The proposal touted the need for a physical barrier, infrastructure, and technology on the 2,000-mile southern border. Although the Trump administration funded 800 miles of border wall projects, it completed just over 450 miles, much of it replacement fencing. The influx of illegal immigrants crossing the border under Biden is one indicator that the additions to the border wall have not prevented people from crossing.