CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A group of 40 U.S. senators, with U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) leading the way, are asking if President Joe Biden violated the law with his steps, soon after taking office, to suspend funding and construction of the southern U.S. border wall.
“In the weeks that followed, operational control of our southern border was compromised and a humanitarian and national security crisis has ensued,” the senators wrote in a letter to GAO Comptroller Gene L. Dodaro.
“The President’s actions directly contributed to this unfortunate, yet entirely avoidable, scenario,” the senators said.
In February of this year, CBP reported a 173 percent increase in what were called ‘border encounters’ compared with February 2020.
For most migrants, entry to the U.S. remains blocked because of the pandemic.
However, the Biden Administration has allowed unaccompanied children, those under the age of 18, to enter while their claims are processed.
As of Sunday, CBP was reportedly housing 4,200 children in detention centers, a 31 percent increase from the previous week.
New sites were opening this week in Dallas and elsewhere to handle the influx.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency had joined the response.
“This is a tragedy. It’s a crisis, I don’t care what you call it. It’s an emergency. It is a result of President Biden and his, not just even signaling, but his statements of, ‘nobody’s going to be turned back,'” Senator Capito said earlier this week on MetroNews “Talkline.”
As of Wednesday, she said more than 500 unaccompanied kids and teens were being taken into U.S. custody every day.
“I think there has to be enforcement at the border and there have to be deterrents.”
In an ABC interview, President Biden said “don’t come over” was his immediate message to migrants as work continued to make changes to the overall asylum process.
For the short term, Capito said President Biden should reverse his order halting rapid returns at the border for teens and children trying to come into the United States alone which was the policy under former President Donald Trump.
At the same time, the GAO was being asked to provide an opinion on whether President Biden’s actions on border wall construction and funding complied with the Impoundment Control Act.
All of the signing senators for the GAO letter were Republicans.
Separately, the U.S. House was expected to begin moving legislation this week creating a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.
Aides to President Biden have called that measure and others starting points for broader immigration policy.