Hoeven, Cornyn Introduce Legislation to Require Biden Administration to Make Catch-and-Release Data Public
Bill Would Create Transparency for Unlawful Migrant Release Programs
WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today introduced the Southern Border Transparency Act, legislation led by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) that would require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to accurately report how it is handling migrants encountered at the border. This would ensure the American people have a full accounting of the number of migrants being released into the United States by the Biden administration, along with information detailing their country of origin.
“The Biden administration’s border policies are creating a real security problem for our nation, and the American people deserve an honest accounting of those being released into our country,” said Senator Hoeven. “We will continue working to hold the administration accountable for creating this humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border, pressing for them to enforce the law and secure our border.”
“The Biden administration has gone to great lengths to hide record levels of illegal immigration at the southern border, but Americans deserve to know exactly how many migrants are being released into our country,” said Senator Cornyn. “This legislation would shine a bright light on President Biden’s catch-and-release practices and reveal the devastating consequences of this administration’s unlawful actions.”
In addition to Hoeven and Cornyn, the legislation is cosponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Senators Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.).
The Biden administration’s strategy for handling the influx of migrants at the border has been to funnel them into so-called “parole” or unlawful release programs, including the Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan parole program, an expanded Central American Minors program that now includes adults, and the likely widespread use of parole at Ports of Entry (POEs). These migrants are eligible for work authorization, and there is limited visibility into whether they ultimately depart the United States.
Right now, there is only limited public data available on the total number of people who have been released into the U.S. under these programs, whether they are even making asylum claims before they are released, what screenings are taking place, or whether these migrants ever depart the United States. The Southern Border Transparency Act would require DHS to fully report on how it is handling migrants encountered at the border, including:
- The number of migrants paroled at each POE and in each Border Patrol sector;
- The number of migrants apprehended at each POE and in each Border Patrol sector and how many were granted voluntary departure, placed into expedited removal, or simply released into the interior;
- The number of petitions for parole received and granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); and
- The total number of migrants paroled into the United States each fiscal year, whether they are granted work authorization, and whether they ultimately depart the United States when their parole expires.
The legislation comes in response to the Biden administration acting without Congress’ consent to create programs that allow for hundreds of thousands of migrants to be paroled and released into the United States annually. One allows migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to legally remain in the U.S. for two years and offers work authorizations to up to 360,000 people a year. The administration has also released more than 266,000 migrants who scheduled immigration appointments with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) through the CBP One app, including individuals from Iran, China, and Russia.
These practices result in decreased apprehensions, but do not decrease the number of migrants with unrealistic asylum claims who are entering and remaining in the United States. Separately, the administration is releasing an unknown number of individuals under the label of “humanitarian release,” although it is unclear who qualifies. Although some migrants are placed into expedited removal proceedings, most are released into the interior of the U.S. before DHS even determines whether they will make asylum claims, let alone whether those claims are even credible on their face.
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