WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement held a hearing on Mar.7 to examine President Joe Biden’s inability to maintain border security, calling for a change in the current immigration law. While both Democrats and Republicans attacked President Biden’s inaction in solving the migrant crisis, they appeared divided on whether to adopt former President Trump’s more rigorous border policy. 

The committee’s chair, Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, claimed that President Biden deliberately dismantled effective border security measures, which allowed more than 4.5 million immigrants to illegally enter the U.S. since his term in office. Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal attacked former President Donald Trump’s cruel and inhuman deterrence in the border, which she said not only separated thousands of children from their parents but also intensified the illegal crossing nationwide. 

After the House refused a bipartisan Senate border bill, tensions heightened between Republicans and Democrats as immigration emerges as a key election-year issue. As Republicans and Democrats exchange insults on border policies, more people started to bemoan the lack of action. 

According to the Nationwide Encounters in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, total encounters have increased from 1,956,519 in2021 to 3,201,144 in 2023. There were already 1,231,213 total nationwide encounters in the first four months of 2024.

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a witness and policy director at the American Immigration Council, suggested that the immigration system should have more judges and asylum officers to help reduce backlogs and deliver decisions within a reasonable timeframe.

Reichlin-Melnick said that many migrants wouldn’t be forced to remain in shelters at high costs to local governments if they went through a multi-year court process to find jobs legally. 

“There’s no doubt that we need new laws,” said Reichlin-Melnick. “Today, Congress faces a choice: Do we do the one thing we haven’t tried and rebuild our broken asylum system, or do we kick the can down the road yet again?”

Yet, McClintock said that the country only needs to enforce current laws to protect the border and reduce illegal crossings.

“We need to enforce the laws we already have,” said McClintock. “Stop billions and billions of costs that he[Biden] implemented in Mexico.”

Thomas Homan, another witness who worked for six different presidents as a former acting director at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said that the influx of immigrants came with a high migrant crime rate.

“President Biden is the first President to ever unsecure a border on purpose,” said Homan. “My biggest concern about this historic self-inflicted tragedy of the Biden open border is that it has become the biggest national security failure I have seen since 911.”

Homan mentioned that approximately 340 people that were arrested by the Border Patrol over three years appeared on the Terrorist Screening Data Set, but only 11 were arrested in four years under Trump.

After serving the country more than 34 years, Homan said that the Trump administration proved that it had the most effective immigration policy.

Congressman Wesley Hunt echoed Homan’s opinion, suggesting that “we’re going to see a historic and devastating wave of migrants taking the lives of innocent Americans.”

Hunt cited multiple deaths caused by undocumented immigrants. For example, Alex Wise Jr., a ten-year-old boy in Midland, Texas, was hit by a black truck while he was attempting to cross the street in early February. Rogelio Ortiz-Olivas, the suspected driver who was an undocumented immigrant, was charged with a hit-and-run accident causing the boy’s death. Ortiz-Olivas was deported five times before the accident, according to CBS7

“Biden’s hands aren’t tied,” said Congressman Hunt when talking to Homan. “He has the power to close the border today. All you have to do is reinstate the policy set to work on President Trump two years ago.”