WASHINGTON — Texas Republicans in Congress demanded that President Joe Biden find a way to reimburse the state for its border security efforts, and that he meet to discuss the crisis, as Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Tuesday to block Biden’s new asylum policy.
Texas has spent $4 billion under Operation Lone Star, Gov. Greg Abbott’s policy of deploying the National Guard and other state resources.
“We urge you to work with us to stop the flow of illegal migration at the southern border,” says the letter signed by all 25 Texas Republicans in the U.S. House. “We also request a meeting with you to discuss the border crisis” and solutions proposed by Republicans — most of which have been deemed unacceptable by the White House and its Democratic allies.
The letter, dated Monday, was released as Paxton announced a lawsuit by a 20-state coalition seeking to block the carrot-and-stick policy that Biden unveiled on Jan. 5, allowing 30,000 asylum-seekers per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela as long as they apply from their home country, while creating harsh penalties for anyone who crosses the border without permission.
Texans are united in calling for President Biden to take the border crisis seriously. @POTUS should reimburse Texas for the costs @GovAbbott has been forced to spend on border security, and meet with us to hear the solutions Texans are proposing to end this security crisis. pic.twitter.com/gWHJnTczcS— Rep. August Pfluger (@RepPfluger) January 24, 2023
Paxton and other critics contend the program is an abuse of executive authority, because it creates a de facto pathway to citizenship for 360,000 migrants per year, contrary to existing law.
“Every state in America, especially border states like Texas, is being crushed by the impacts of illegal immigration,” Paxton said in a statement announcing the Texas-led lawsuit. “The Biden open borders agenda has created a humanitarian crisis that is increasing crime and violence in our streets, overwhelming local communities, and worsening the opioid crisis. This unlawful amnesty program, which will invite hundreds of thousands of aliens into the U.S. every year, will only make this immigration crisis drastically worse.”
America First Legal, founded by Stephen Miller, the architect of Donald Trump’s immigration and border policies, worked with Paxton on the lawsuit.
Miller called Biden’s amnesty policy a “radical new proposal to accelerate mass migration” and “pre-amnesty for what would be illegal aliens before they even arrive at our borders.”
Joe Biden is on pace to have 30x more terrorist suspects cross the southern border than President Trump had.— Tony Gonzales (@TonyGonzales4TX) January 25, 2023
What’s happening on the border is a national security CRISIS!
“This is a dramatic escalation in the open borders crusade,” he said, commending Paxton for fighting a policy he described as “illegal, unconstitutional, and contemptible.”
Five of the 25 lawmakers demanding a meeting with Biden, all newly elected, skipped an opportunity to press their case Tuesday evening at a White House reception for freshmen members of Congress.
Biden visited El Paso three days after unveiling the new asylum policy. Republicans accused him of getting a sanitized view of the border, noting he never crossed paths with the typical throngs of new arrivals or witnessed groups of migrants trudging across the Rio Grande. Three Democratic members of Congress from Texas joined the tour.
The White House rebuffed Rep. Tony Gonzales of San Antonio, a Republican whose district includes part of El Paso.
“Joe Biden is on pace to have 30x more terrorist suspects cross the southern border than President Trump had. What’s happening on the border is a national security CRISIS!” he tweeted Wednesday as the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on border security.
Gonzales, whose district spans 800 miles of the state’s vast border with Mexico, has distanced himself from hardline approaches favored by many of his colleagues. He rejected Austin Rep. Chip Roy’s newly proposed Border Safety and Security Act, for instance. That bill would let DHS turn away asylum-seekers unless it has the capacity to hold them for the duration of the asylum process, a target the department has never come close to hitting, in large part because Congress has never provided enough funding.
Last month, Texas Republicans serving in the House or about to take office — except for Gonzales — rolled out a set of ideas that included 10 years in prison for fraudulently claiming asylum and mandating federal reimbursement for state border security efforts.
The delegation’s letter to Biden smoothed over such differences and Gonzales and his colleagues found common ground in frustration over the record level of illegal border crossings and high costs borne by Texas taxpayers to supplement federal efforts.
“The Texans we represent have been at the forefront of the crisis brought upon by your administration’s failed policies,” the letter says.
“Ranchers throughout west Texas routinely find bodies of dead migrants, or have their private property destroyed. Drugs flowing across our border have led to a record-number of American lives being ruined by poisonings from synthetic drugs, such as fentanyl. Small localities along the border are suffering from the federal government’s failures. These towns should not be forced to reallocate their already exhausted resources to secure their communities.”