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Top Republicans on the House Committee on Homeland Security are demanding answers on the Biden administration’s handling of the surge of illegal immigrants at the southern border, raising concerns that there are security gaps that could pose a national security risk.
The lawmakers led by Ranking Member John Katko (R-NY) sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Wednesday highlighting information gathered from a recent border trip where law enforcement officials expressed frustration with the administration’s policy changes.
“Time and time again, frontline law enforcement, including the women and men of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), expressed their frustrations with new Biden Administration policies that place a stranglehold on their ability to do their jobs, put their safety at risk, and jeopardize the security of the homeland,” the letter said.
“These accounts ranged from law enforcement officers working between the ports of entry, at the ports, conducting homeland security investigations, and stationed at airports.”
The group cited officials telling lawmakers the change in policy for vetting and processing migrants for travel into the United States was one of the most alarming issues they feel needs to be addressed — specifically, the ease with which illegal immigrants can lie about or conceal their identity.
“According to DHS personnel on the ground, there are no requirements for migrants being placed on flights and busses across the country to show a negative COVID-19 test. Also, for migrants who show up at the border with no paperwork or documentation, CBP is forced to take them at their word regarding biographic information including their name and even age,” they wrote.
“That does not instill confidence regarding the identities of people who are expeditiously being put on busses and planes to head to cities across the country pending their immigration proceedings. Border Patrol told Members they have identified adults that initially claim they are teenagers.”
The group inquired about what DHS is doing to ensure domestic transportation systems aren’t compromised by undocumented immigrants, “many of whom have not received thorough medical assessments, and whose home country criminal history we do not have,” as well as the processes border control is using to determine migrants’ identities when they arrive without valid identification or suspected fraudulent documents.
Other questions included what process DHS has implemented to transport migrants via domestic air, whether the agency is working with other countries to check for criminal histories, what information TSA is relying on to vet migrant passengers and how it’s handling verifying the identity of passengers who don’t have a government-issued ID, and the number of migrants on flights who were were not verified to have tested negative for COVID-19.
“These people are getting out of planes, we’re paying for tickets, don’t know who they are, don’t know whether they’re dangerous or not and they’re going to these cities,” Katko said in a recent interview with The Post.
The lawmakers requested responses from the agencies by April 26.
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