In a proactive response to the escalating migrant situation at the southern border, House Republicans are pushing for extensive amendments to a Homeland Security appropriations bill to introduce comprehensive changes to immigration enforcement, notably targeting sanctuary cities.
While the primary focus in Capitol Hill remains on preventing a potential government shutdown by month-end, Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas is leading the charge with a series of amendments to the appropriations bill. This bill is pivotal as it determines the Department of Homeland Security funding for the forthcoming fiscal year.
A significant portion of these amendments zeroes in on immigration and border security.
One notable amendment proposes withholding funds for asylum claims processing for migrants who have traversed another country without seeking asylum there, which is a more stringent approach than the Biden administration’s current policy.
Furthermore, another amendment emphasizes the prioritization of deporting specific illegal immigrants. Another suggests preventing funds from being allocated to release these immigrants into the country’s interior.
An amendment will ensure funds aren’t used for migrant transportation within the country unless state and local officials are notified 72 hours in advance, which addresses concerns about unscheduled migrant flights.
Nehls also advocates prohibiting federal funds to sanctuary cities, which are known to resist cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He argues that such policies, especially in places like New York City, act as magnets for migrants.
The congressman is pushing to revert the number of ICE detention beds to the levels observed during the Trump era, which have seen a decline under the current administration. Another amendment stipulates that the DHS must maintain a minimum of 14,000 enforcement officers or face funding cuts.
Nehls firmly believes that the Republican majority has a duty to ensure the Biden administration remains accountable.
“Our primary focus should be on halting the surge of illegal immigrants, tackling human trafficking, and curbing the rampant spread of fentanyl and other illegal drugs,” Nehls stated.
He also highlighted proposals by other lawmakers to cap Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ salary at a symbolic $1, emphasizing that taxpayer money should prioritize national security over the repercussions of an unsecured border.
Nehls’ amendments have garnered support from influential groups. RJ Hauman, head of the National Immigration Center for Enforcement and an adviser at the Heritage Foundation, praised Nehls for fortifying the appropriations bill. He urged all Republicans to rally behind these initiatives.
Other amendments include one from Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, which aims to prevent funds from being used for programs that release migrants into the country.
This move signifies the latest effort by House Republicans to counter the Biden administration’s immigration stance. Some have even called for the impeachment of Mayorkas or proposed defunding the agency altogether.
On the other hand, Republicans have introduced the “Secure the Border Act,” which proposes stricter measures on migrant releases, limits the use of the CBP One app, boosts Border Patrol numbers, and recommences border wall construction.
The Biden administration has responded to these criticisms by urging Congress to allocate more funds and pass a comprehensive immigration reform, which includes a pathway to citizenship for numerous illegal immigrants. They argue that their policies, which expand migrant parole pathways and impose stricter consequences for unlawful entry, are effective given the existing system’s challenges.
A spokesperson commented this week, “We urge Congress to collaborate with us to ensure our nation’s safety, recognize the progress DHS has achieved, and implement the much-needed reforms to our flawed immigration system.”