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FIRST ON FOX: House Republicans are urging the Biden administration to take “every possible step” to stop illegal migration from Venezuela, as the U.S. southern border has seen a spike in migration from the authoritarian nation – something that has overwhelmed border towns and cities.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, 14 House Republicans led by Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., raise concern about the increase of Venezuelans coming to the U.S. via the southern border — particular to El Paso.
“El Paso has now become ground zero of the border security crisis facing our country, as Venezuelan migrants have begun to view El Paso as the most hospitable location to illegally cross the U.S. border,” they write.
Of the more than 200,000 migrant encounters at the southern border, more than 25,000 were from Venezuela, a significant increase over the 17,652 encountered in July and the 6,301 encountered in August last year.
EL PASO HIT BY 1,500 ILLEGAL MIGRANTS A DAY WHILE SMALL FRACTION SENT TO LIBERAL CITIES STRAINS RESOURCES
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has said it is seeing a significant increase in the number of encounters from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, just as numbers coming from Mexico and Central America are decreasing.
However, it is harder to deport or remove Venezuelans under the Title 42 public health order or other methods of removal due to the lack of diplomatic channels with Venezuela and human rights concerns related to returning people to the regime.
As a result, only a handful of those being encountered in El Paso are being removed. In one day, El Paso Sector had over 1,967 apprehensions, but only 335 were expelled under Title 42, the lawmakers say. El Paso has resorted to bussing migrants to U.S. cities, while some migrants are being dropped off by bus stations due to overwhelmed facilities.
“Many of these migrants have stated that they are coming because of the economic hardships they face in Venezuela,” they write. “Though some may be legitimate asylum seekers, it is not a legitimate asylum claim to come to the United States for employment.”
HOUSE REPUBLICANS SOUND ALARM OVER REPORT VENEZUELA IS SENDING VIOLENT CRIMINALS TO US BORDER
“As you know, the United States does not have a repatriation agreement with Venezuela, therefore it is nearly impossible for the United States to deport migrants to Venezuela or use Title 42 to return migrants,” they say.
Lawmakers on the letter include Reps. Mayra Flores, R-Texas, James Comer, R-Ky., and Tom Tiffany, R-Wis.
The lawmakers urge the administration to tackle the crisis using regional diplomatic solutions and similar policy changes — particularly working with leaders in the region to halt the flow of migrants before it gets to the U.S.
“The Department of State should immediately pressure countries along the route from South America to deport those seeking to illegally cross their borders and enter the United States,” they write.
The Republicans also call for the administration to set up safe third country agreements and asylum cooperation agreements — similar to those set up by the Trump administration with Northern Triangle countries, but that were later abolished by the Biden administration – that would allow and require migrants to claim asylum in designated countries through which they pass. The letter also notes Herrell’s legislation that would use foreign aid instead for detention, processing cases and repatriation flights as a basis for a possible solution.
The Biden administration has touted its own regional approach to the crisis at the border. While restoring what it says are legal asylum pathways gutted by the Trump administration, it has also stressed a cooperative approach to address “root causes” of migration like poverty and violence.
In June, the administration announced a new migration agreement at the Summit of the Americas and related commitments from multiple countries. President Biden said the approach was focused on four pillars: stability and assistance, increasing legal migration pathways, a more humane border management, and increased cooperation.
However, since then migrant encounters have remained around or above 200,000 a month.
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The administration has also implemented a new asylum rule that would expedite asylum claims, reducing waiting times from years to months. The lawmakers also call for a streamlined processing, but for it to be reduced to a three-week window, all processed within the border region and focused on immediate removal of those found ineligible.
“To accomplish this, DHS must surge resources and allow for migrants to have their cases heard by both CBP officers and asylum officers at Border Patrol and ICE detention facilities,” they say. “Without fast adjudication, those with legitimate asylum claims will wait years to receive benefits to which they are entitled, and those with invalid asylum claims will never face deportation for breaking our nation’s immigration law and undermining our asylum process.”
The lawmakers request information on the efforts DHS is taking to reduce the flow of migrants from Venezuela and the diplomatic pressures being places on Mexico and Central and South Americans countries to apprehend migrants coming through their countries.
“Border communities are being overwhelmed with illegal immigration while the Biden administration refuses to enforce our laws. If the State Department and Homeland Security fail to act in the interest of securing our country and ending human trafficking, they will be explaining themselves to Congressional investigations very soon,” Herrell said in a statement to Fox News Digital.