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WTAS: Whip Emmer Builds Coalition of Support for H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act

Following the long standing work of House committees in examining Biden’s border crisis, Majority Whip Tom Emmer played a critical role in securing outside support from key stakeholders for House Republicans’ H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act of 2023. After more than two years of total chaos at the southern border thanks to Joe Biden and the Democrats’ open-border policies, House Republicans are delivering legislation that secures the border and combats illegal immigration.

Here is what stakeholders are saying about H.R. 2 and excerpts of witness’ testimonies from border hearings during the 118th Congress:

Coalition of 17 Outside Groups: “The undersigned coalition writes in strong support of H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act. This flagship package represents the strongest border security and enforcement legislation put forth to date and fulfills key promises made in the Commitment to America. The series of policy proposals that have passed through committee markups with full debate are a common-sense response to the chaos unleashed by the Biden Administration and would prevent further abuse of immigration laws to usher in even more mass illegal immigration. The package sets a strong baseline for conservative border security and enforcement policies for years to come, and with it, the conference has united behind legislation that would secure our sovereignty, security, and well-being.”

Bob Carlstrom, President of AMAC Action: "On behalf of the over 2 million members of the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC), I am writing in support of H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act of 2023. The US immigration system is deeply flawed and cannot be left unaddressed by Congress much longer. America is experiencing the worst immigration crisis of its time, leaving the border overwhelmed and our state apparatus vulnerable to high-risk security threats. AMAC fully supports the passage of this legislation for its necessary and comprehensive response to the national security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border."

America First Policy Institute: “The new Republican House majority is offering a serious legislative solution to solve the humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border that was created by the Biden Administration’s failed policies. If enacted, H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act of 2023, would help secure the border, discourage asylum fraud, end the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) abuse of the parole authority, resume border wall system construction, and deter human trafficking.”

Kris Ullman, President of Eagle Forum: “Securing our border is long past due. For two years, we have seen unprecedented numbers of border encounters, asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors, and visa overstays despite pandemic restrictions (Title 42) in place. Now that Title 42 is expiring this week, the crisis will worsen. H.R. 2, a top priority of House leadership, will put necessary structures and reforms in place to protect American families as well as those traveling across our borders. Not only will border wall construction resume under this bill, but it also focuses on reforming asylum and parole laws, uniting families, penalizing those here illegally, and holding employers accountable for who they hire.”

Heritage Action: “Heritage Action supports Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and Rep. Tom McClintock's (R-Calif.) Secure the Border Act (H.R. 2) and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard. The Secure the Border Act represents the strongest and most consequential border security and immigration enforcement legislation to date—fulfilling key promises made by Republicans in their 2022 Commitment to America to keep our cities safe and regain control of the southern border. 95 percent of Republicans and 79 percent of Independents in battleground districts say ‘Republicans need to follow through on their promises and vote on meaningful legislation’ to address ‘the southern border crisis.’ This critical legislation includes targeted policies to end the abuse of our asylum system and parole laws, mandates completion of the border wall, provides physical and personnel resources to secure the border, and strengthens immigration enforcement mechanisms.”

Hadley Manning, Vice President for Policy for Independent Women’s Voice: “Independent Women’s Voice, which fights to enhance people’s freedom, opportunities, and well-being, supports the Secure the Border Act of 2023, H.R. 2, sponsored by Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart and Tom McClintock. Among other things, H.R. 2 would restart the construction of physical barriers along the southern border (which was immediately halted by President Biden upon taking office in January 2021) and strengthen current law to protect unaccompanied children from human trafficking.”

Liberty Counsel Action: “Last year, 370 MILLION doses of fentanyl were confiscated by U.S. authorities — that is more than enough to kill everyone in America! …[T]he U.S. House will vote on a bill to provide the means to dramatically reduce the influx of this deadly drug into our nation. HR 2 will go a long way to addressing this border crisis.”

NumbersUSA: “The Secure the Border Act is the strongest border security bill to come to the House floor in decades. It closes all the loopholes that have tied the hands of the Border Patrol and prevented them from quickly removing economic migrants. It prohibits asylum shopping by requiring asylum seekers to apply for asylum in the first safe country they enter where they can seek protection. H.R. 2 would take our generous asylum system from the brink of collapse and preserve it for those who truly fear persecution and need protection they cannot find elsewhere.”

John Hostettler, Vice President of Texas Public Policy Foundation’s States Trust Initiative: “This bill streamlines and restores integrity to our asylum process, protects unaccompanied children from human trafficking, ends catch-and-release, and gives our Border Patrol the pay raise they deserve. With the expiration of Title 42 public health restrictions just days away and more and more Texas mayors declaring emergencies due to surging numbers of migrants entering their communities, it’s imperative that the House of Representatives acts swiftly to pass this border package and send it to the United States Senate, to bring the relief that border communities and the entire country desperately need.”

Brandon Dunn, Co-founder of Forever 15 Project: “On August 21, 2022 Noah [Dunn’s son] died as a result of fentanyl poisoning…We need more funding and resources for prevention and awareness. We need more funding and resources at our southern border. We need to deter and prevent these cartels from smuggling their product into the country as well as stiffer penalties for those caught doing so. We need to take significant steps to reduce the uncontrolled flow of people across our southern border. This is not a fight about immigration. It is a fight for the lives of not only our youth, but for all of the citizens of the United States of America.”

Dale Carruthers, Terrell County Judge and rancher: “The chaos caused by this administration’s open border is the reason I and many others like me have switched parties…Communities along the border are living in fear. They fear for their lives every day they feel their safety concerns are valid. The invasion of illegals trespassing on their property flows from the countryside right into our communities and straight into yours. The cartels are wreaking havoc by smuggling drugs, criminal aliens and individuals on the terrorist watch list and praying on people and exposing them to the elements and rugged terrain resulting in deaths and human trafficking. The immigration crisis on the Southern border is unacceptable and has resulted in a security threat and humanitarian crisis greater than what the American public is led to believe.”

Mark Dannels, Cochise County Sheriff: “Our southern border, against all public comfort statements out of Washington D.C. is in the worst shape I have ever seen it. When one looks at Public Safety, National Security, and Humanitarian, our southern border is the largest crime scene in the country. The morale of agents is extremely low and the collective frustration is very high amongst law enforcement at all levels and most important, our citizens. With the recent efforts to cancel Title 42, this only serves to complex a border that needs immediate immigration reform by U.S. Congress, but most important, needs to be secured.”

Jonathan Lines, Yuma County Supervisor: “Since President Biden took office, we saw a huge surge--a record number of people crossing the border illegally from 106 different countries, 17 of those countries are what is designated ‘special interest’ because of the negative relationships with the United States and it has steadily continued these many months. Along with the illegal entry into the US across an open border the increase in the trafficking of narcotics. Both human trafficking and drug trafficking remain at an all-time high, significantly greater than under any other administration in our history.”

Leon Wilmot, Yuma County Sheriff: “By allowing our border security mission and immigration laws to be discretionary, as it is being done under this administration’s policies, just allows criminal cartels to continue to be the true winners.”

Tara Lee Rodas, Health and Human Services Whistleblower and Federal Inspector General Employee: “For nearly a decade, unaccompanied children have been suffering in the shadows. I must confess; I knew nothing about their suffering until 2021 when I volunteered to help the Biden Administration with the crisis at the Southern Border…I thought I was going to help place children in loving homes. Instead, I discovered that children are being trafficked through a sophisticated network that begins with being recruited in home country, smuggled to the US border, and ends when ORR delivers a child to a Sponsors – some sponsors are criminals and traffickers and members of Transnational Criminal Organizations. Some sponsors view children as commodities and assets to be used for earning income - this is why we are witnessing an explosion of labor trafficking. Whether intentional or not, it can be argued that the US Government has become the middleman in a large scale, multi-billion-dollar, child trafficking operation run by bad actors seeking to profit off the lives of children.”

Sheena Rodriguez – President and Founder of Alliance for a Safe Texas: “As a U.S. citizen, mother and former educator who deeply cares about our country and the welfare of all children, I was compelled to see for myself what was occurring at our southern border. I’ve been to various parts of the southern border in Texas and Arizona nearly three dozen times in under two years. What I have witnessed would and should disgust and terrify every American. In April 2021, when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott learned of allegations of abuse of unaccompanied minors in a federal facility in San Antonio, he said, ‘The Biden administration is presiding over the abuse of children.’ He also called on the administration to shut these facilities down. Instead, the administration has only expanded them without communicating with state or local authorities…I agree with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who describes what’s happening as ‘effectively the largest human smuggling operation in American history.’ We can no longer turn a blind eye and pretend this isn’t happening.”

Jessica Vaughn, Director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies: “The mass migration crisis instigated by the Biden administration’s misguided immigration policies has caused incalculable harm to American communities, to the integrity of our immigration system, and, tragically, to many of the migrants themselves. These migrants were enticed by these policies to put themselves in risky situations to cross the border illegally, led by criminal smuggling and trafficking organizations, and enabled by government agencies and contractors that have looked the other way at the abuse and exploitation that frequently occurs en route and after resettlement. The most vulnerable group that has been endangered by the Biden policies are the more than 300,000 minors who have arrived on his watch (out of 660,000 total since 2012). They have been carelessly funneled through the custody of U.S. government agencies and contractors, and handed off to very lightly vetted sponsors (who are usually also here illegally) in our communities without regard to their safety and well-being…Congress must focus on fixing the main cause of the problem – the legal loopholes and judicial rulings that force and enable the government to operate a massive catch and release program for illegally-arriving alien children.”

Mark Lamb, Pinal County Sheriff: “Over the last two years, human smuggling/trafficking incidents in Pinal County are up 377%, and vehicle pursuits related to human smuggling are up 461%...If it’s not humans being trafficked, it’s drugs. The number of fentanyl pills my deputies have seized along this same route since 2020 is up 610%...Our biggest frustration stems from being told by this Administration and the Media that there is not a crisis at our southern border, and the lie that our southern border is secure. Clearly, our statistics tell a different story.”

Chris Cabrera, Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council: “In FY 2022 the Border Patrol made an unprecedented 2.2 million apprehensions. This figure is approximately 5 times the number of apprehensions made in the last year of the Trump Administration and a clear sign of how the border policies of the Biden Administration are failing…In addition to the apprehensions we made, there were well over 1.2 million confirmed illegal immigrants that evaded capture in the last two years. They got away simply because we did not have enough agents to apprehend them. To put this in perspective, right now we are in the Rio Grande Valley which has a population of 1.3 million people. We had almost the entire population of this portion of South Texas walk right into this country illegally because we lacked the manpower to stop them. If that is not the definition of a problem, I don’t know what is.”

Colonel Steven McCraw, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS): “In calendar year 2021, there were more than 1.3 million apprehensions in Texas, which is 1 million more apprehensions than what occurred in 2014. And, in calendar year 2022 there were more than 1.4 million apprehensions in Texas. These numbers do not include the many known and unknown got-a-ways. In our profession it is the absence of crime and disorder that defines success, and the border crisis has increased the difficulty of doing so in every community throughout the state and nation.”

Raul Ortiz, Chief of the United States Border Patrol: “Evolving global and regional events continue to produce challenging conditions and trends along the Southwest Border that directly affect USBP’s border security operations. Most notably, we continue to respond to elevated levels of migrant encounters and adapt to changing migrant demographics, while also addressing the ongoing and dynamic threat of transnational criminal organizations (TCOs)...In FY 2022, USBP intercepted and seized 111,737 pounds of illegal drugs, including 18,348 pounds of methamphetamine, 12,469 pounds of cocaine, and 2,207 pounds of fentanyl. USBP also encountered 12,028 subjects who had records of criminal histories, including 62 with homicide or manslaughter convictions and 365 with sexual offense convictions.”

Jonathan Miller, Executive Director of Operations for Air and Marine Operations under U.S. Customs and Border Protection: “Like the situation at our Southwest land border, the United States is experiencing periodic surges of irregular migration in the maritime environment. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, AMO enforcement efforts led to the interdictions of 9,392 migrants in the maritime environment, an increase of 242 percent from FY 2021 and 334 percent from FY 2020. In FY 2023 to date, AMO enforcement actions have led to 6,130 migrant interdictions in the maritime environment, with 94 percent of those interdictions occurring in South Florida and the Caribbean Sea as AMO continues to support the DHS-wide effort to address irregular maritime migration from Haiti and Cuba. Migrants attempting to make the journey to the United States by way of maritime pathways take an enormous risk, putting their lives in the hands of transnational criminal organizations (TCO) and human smuggling networks and often in improvised, rustic vessels. The weather at sea is unpredictable, and in these handmade crafts, the possibility of capsizing and even drowning is often imminent. The vessels that make it far enough for AMO to encounter are often dangerously overloaded with people – people who most often are not equipped with life preservers. The journey is perilous and AMO encounters with these vessels very often become rescue missions.”

Brandon Judd, President of the National Border Patrol Council: “Last year, Border Patrol apprehended over 2,000 people along the northern border. However, because we lack the personnel and situational awareness on the northern border, and due to the forced deployment of Agents stationed on the northern border down to the southern border – in response to President Biden’s border crisis – we are apprehending only a small fraction of illegal crossings.”

Robert Quinn, Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Safety: “We believe it is imperative to quickly respond to today’s crisis with enhanced border security and prevent any further loss of life and limit illicit activity along our border.”

Comprehensive list of stakeholders supporting H.R. 2:
Advocates for Victims of Illegal Alien Crime; AMAC Action; America First Policy Institute; Center for the American Way of Life; Citizens for Renewing America; The Claremont Institute; The Counterpoint Institute for Policy, Research, and Education; Eagle Forum; The Edlow Group; Federation for American Immigration Reform; FreedomWorks; Heritage Action for America; Heritage Foundation; Independent Women’s Voice; Judicial Watch; Liberty Counsel Action; National Immigration Center for Enforcement; NumbersUSA; The Remembrance Project; Texans for Strong Borders; Texas Public Policy Foundation