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Katko & Cuellar Tackle Border Crisis with Legislation to Combat Surges

April 1, 2021

Katko & Cuellar Tackle Border Crisis with Legislation to Combat Surges 

WASHINGTON, DC— In response to the ongoing crisis at the southwest border, Rep. John Katko (R-NY), lead Republican of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, introduced the Border Surge Response and Resilience Act, which would require DHS and federal partners to establish a plan to address migrant surges at the border with transparent metrics in place to activate access to supplemental funds. The plan would hold interagency components accountable to mitigate bottlenecks that take law enforcement off the line and result in children being held in CBP custody for longer than they should.

When a natural disaster strikes, there’s a process in place to respond and tap into funds to provide relief and ensure the situation is addressed. This bill requires a similar agile Federal response for border surges. Building on recommendations from the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC), the fund would allow DHS to address immediate resourcing needs when a humanitarian crisis develops at the border so the Department doesn’t have to reprogram money from security priorities to fund food, clothing, blankets, transportation, and other resources that are being depleted. During past border surges, DHS struggled to receive timely supplemental funds from Congress that were desperately needed to address the humanitarian crisis. Border Patrol agents were reportedly buying clothes and toys for children in custody with their own money in 2019 due to Congress’s delay in passing the emergency supplemental.

It should never be acceptable for political inaction to impact the Federal Government’s obligation to secure our border. We need to ensure the DHS frontline men and women are patrolling the border and preventing nefarious activity by cartels and transnational criminal organizations to keep our country secure. Instead they are being hamstrung in their ability to carry out their important missions by being pulled off the line to deal with the humanitarian response to the surge of migrants at the border. Border security demands clear-eyed acknowledgement of the realities on the ground, not deflection or denial of responsibility.

“After hearing firsthand from border patrol agents, it’s clear they need interagency backup and accountability across the Federal Government to appropriately handle border surges,” said Ranking Member John Katko. “Agents and officers on the frontlines are suffering through another crisis, in the midst of a global pandemic, and some still haven’t been vaccinated. We need greater confidence that the Federal Government can manage these crises going forward. This bill would do just that.”

“It is critical that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proactive and develops a strategy to adequately manage large migration flows at our southern border,” said Congressman Henry Cuellar. “This bipartisan legislation will allow the federal government to employ a whole-of-government approach to create a response framework that anticipates migration surges, allowing them to quickly shift resources and take immediate action to mitigate a humanitarian crisis. As the Vice Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Appropriations, I will continue to fund programs that work to address current and future migrant flows, and also develop bipartisan  legislation to address border challenges. I want to thank all the brave men and women in DHS who work every day to secure our borders.”

While enactment of this critical legislation would add much needed certainty to our ability to respond quickly and effectively to border surges, Katko cautions that the Biden Administration still must reverse the misguided policy decisions which created this crisis to begin with and invest in strong border security.

More details on the legislation here

Read the bill text here.