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Cornyn, GOP Colleagues Introduce Bill Forcing Biden Admin to Make Catch-and-Release Data Public 

Legislation Would Require the Biden Administration to Release Data on Unlawful Migrant Release Programs 

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 U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Susan Collins (R-ME), and 21 of their Senate Republican colleagues introduced the Southern Border Transparency Act. Images Source: U.S. Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Susan Collins (R-ME), and 21 of their Senate Republican colleagues introduced the Southern Border Transparency Act. Images Source: U.S. Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Susan Collins (R-ME), and 21 of their Senate Republican colleagues introduced the Southern Border Transparency Act, which would require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to accurately report how it is handling migrants encountered at the border and 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 where they are coming from: 

“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 Sen. 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.”

“The Biden Administration refuses to offer serious solutions to the crisis unfolding at our Southern border, and would prefer to keep the American people in the dark about its failures,” said Sen. Tillis. “I am proud to cosponsor this legislation, which will require real transparency about the Biden Administration’s failure to stop the flow of illegal immigration at our Southern border.”

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“We have an immigration crisis because Joe Biden has abandoned his responsibility to secure the southern border,” said Sen. Cotton. “This bill will bring needed transparency and oversight to this manufactured crisis.”

“The Biden administration is trying to hide the fact that it’s created the worst border crisis in American history,” said Sen. Tuberville. “For nearly three years, we’ve had record numbers of illegal immigrants and deadly drugs pour across our southern border with no accountability. Some of these illegal entries are on the terrorist watchlist—and we have no idea where they are in the U.S. American lives are at stake. It’s past time for us to know who is coming across our border, and why Joe Biden is allowing them to stay here illegally on the taxpayer dime. I’m proud to help support this targeted legislation that ensures Joe Biden can’t hide anymore.”

“The Southern Border Transparency Act would increase accountability and help Congress make informed decisions as it considers ways to enhance border security and reform our broken immigration system,” said Sen. Collins. “Moreover, this legislation would help ensure that all Americans can understand the scope and scale of the worsening crisis at the southern border.”

This legislation is also cosponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senators Bill Hagerty (R-TN), J.D. Vance (R-OH), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), James Lankford (R-OK), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Ted Budd (R-NC), Todd Young (R-IN), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Lee (R-UT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Roger Marshall (R-KS), John Hoeven (R-ND), John Kennedy (R-LA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Katie Britt (R-AL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

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Background:

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 currently 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.  

Earlier this year, the Biden administration acted 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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