FIRST ON FOX: The attorneys general of more than two dozen states are urging new House Speaker Mike Johnson to prioritize legislation that would open the door to state officials acting as federal immigration officers – as one way to tackle the ongoing migrant crisis.
“We, Attorneys General for 26 States, write to congratulate you on being elected Speaker of the House and to urge you to use your new position to prioritize enactment of the Immigration Enforcement Partnership Act of 2023, H.R. 1337, or similar legislation giving States more authority to combat illegal immigration,” the letter, led by Florida AG Ashley Moody, says.
H.R. 1337 was introduced last year in the House by Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla. It says that if a state AG finds that the head of the Department of Homeland Security is “not adequately fulfilling his non-discretionary duties” in enforcing U.S. immigration law – particularly on the arrest, detention and deportation of illegal immigrants – state officials may request in writing that DHS do so.
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The secretary can then either follow the request or authorize state officials to act as immigration officers on behalf of the federal government in apprehending, arresting and deporting illegal immigrants. If the secretary does not comply within 30 days, the attorney general can file a civil action in a U.S. district court to enforce those requirements.
However, state officials say it has yet to receive a hearing in the House, and are hoping that may change under a new speaker. The letter notes record numbers of migrant encounters — including terror watchlist encounters — by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the southern border in FY 23.
“Had Congress acted sooner, the U.S. might not be setting yet another record for CBP encounters at the border. We will never know, but if we take action now to give states the authority to do the job [President] Biden and [DHS Secretary Alejandro] Mayorkas refuse to do, we could prevent another record next year.”
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“It is surprising to us that H.R. 1337 and other similar proposed laws have received so little attention, and we hope that under your leadership that will change,” they say, requesting a hearing “on an expedited basis.”
The state officials also cite the increased amount of fentanyl seized at the southern border, including a 110lb seizure in Rio Grande Valley in September, as well as the Hamas terrorist attack against Israel as a sign of a possible terror threat at the U.S. border.
The AGs note a number of court cases they have launched against the administration but say that “the judicial system alone is not a sufficient battlefield to quickly and adequately address” the crisis.
In a separate statement, Moody noted her lawsuit to stop the mass release of migrants without court dates into the interior, while also re-expressing her concerns about the flow of fentanyl into the U.S. and the potential threat posed by terrorists.
“Congress must pass the Immigration Enforcement Partnership Act and allow states to do the job Biden refuses to do – as the terror threat continues to grow – secure the border and protect Americans,” she said.
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House Republicans, meanwhile, have passed sweeping legislation to increase border security and limit asylum and parole releases into the interior, but it has yet to be considered by the Senate. Senate Republicans last week introduced their own border proposals as part of discussions surrounding the White House’s supplemental budget request — but they were quickly rejected by Senate Democrats.
The White House is requesting from Congress $14 billion for its ongoing border operations, including money for migrant services and housing, anti-fentanyl technology and more border agents.