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Upton Demands Answers from Biden Administration Over Reports of Costly Federal Payments to Undocumented Migrants

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last Friday, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, led 75 of his Republican colleagues in sending a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra amid reports that the Biden Administration is considering paying $450,000 per person to families who illegally crossed the southern border in 2018. According to a Wall Street Journal exclusive report, these payments could exceed one million dollars per family, and potentially billions in taxpayer dollars in total. In fact, $450,000 is more than Gold Star families and some 9/11 victims have received in compensation.

“While immigration has been a bedrock of the United States since its founding, we should not be creating policy that encourages individuals to illegally enter our country by traveling thousands of miles through some of the most dangerous parts of the world organized by international criminal syndicates responsible for thousands of murders throughout Mexico and the U.S. – all during a global pandemic,” said the lawmakers. “Furthermore, it is ironic that this administration would focus on the well-being of illegal immigrants when, in July 2021, several whistleblowers came forward to shed light on the deplorable conditions at a Ft. Bliss detention center responsible for overseeing the care of more than 5,000 children.”

The lawmakers continued, “The reports claimed that COVID spread among the kids, contractors hired by the Department of Health and Human Services lacked childcare experience, and it took months to receive supplies to quell a lice outbreak among the young people. Unconscionably, bureaucrats in Washington advised those on the ground to paint a rosy picture and to not allow the public to find out how decrepit the conditions were.”

Upton has long been a vocal proponent of border security. When the Biden Administration expressed its intentions to rescind the effective Migrant Protection Protocols – better known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy – established by the previous administration, Upton joined 43 of his colleagues in urging President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to reconsider. Days later, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the “Remain in Mexico” policy would continue to be implemented pursuant to federal law. You can read that letter HERE.

Upton also recently signed on to a letter demanding answers from the relevant authorities over reports that undocumented migrants were being transported via airplane to numerous states – including Michigan – without alerting local, state, and federal officials. You can read that letter HERE.

In 2019, Upton traveled to the Texas-Mexico border with the Problem Solvers Caucus to witness the crisis firsthand, hear directly from border patrol agents about the challenges they face, and redouble congressional efforts to strengthen the border. That same year, he supported $25 billion over five years to continue construction on the border wall as part of a larger immigration package.

Two weeks ago, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol reported that roughly 1.7 million migrants had been apprehended at the southern border this fiscal year – the highest-ever recorded level in American history. This number is expected to continue to rise well into 2022.

You can read the full letter HERE or below:

Dear Secretary Mayorkas, Attorney General Garland, and Secretary Becerra:

According to an October 28th Wall Street Journal article, the Biden administration is considering offering almost $1 million per family to those who were taken into custody and separated after illegally crossing our southern border. If finalized, the total settlement could reach $1 billion or more. Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a litany of issues created by extreme policy changes that have led to the ongoing, persistent, and preventable historic humanitarian crisis at our border. These changes have signaled to human traffickers and drug cartels that the United States southern border is open for business, so long as you are not entering legally.

While immigration has been a bedrock of the United States since its founding, we should not be creating policy that encourages individuals to illegally enter our country by traveling thousands of miles through some of the most dangerous parts of the world organized by international criminal syndicates responsible for thousands of murders throughout Mexico and the U.S. – all during a global pandemic. Furthermore, it is ironic that this administration would focus on the well-being of illegal immigrants when, in July 2021, several whistleblowers came forward to shed light on the deplorable conditions at a Ft. Bliss detention center responsible for overseeing the care of more than 5,000 children. The reports claimed that COVID spread among the kids, contractors hired by the Department of Health and Human Services lacked childcare experience, and it took months to receive supplies to quell a lice outbreak among the young people. Unconscionably, bureaucrats in Washington advised those on the ground to paint a rosy picture and to not allow the public to find out how decrepit the conditions were.

The family separation policy was ended in June 2018, and, in some cases, already resolved for far less than the reported figures this administration is discussing. To better understand this negotiation, we request you answer the below questions expeditiously.

               1. Is the reporting correct and could families who illegally crossed the southern border and were separated receive larger settlements than the victims of the September 11th terrorist attack?

               2. What is the total amount of American taxpayer dollars that the administration plans to authorize to settle these cases?

               3. Will those families who illegally crossed the southern border and were separated be given preferential treatment to remain in the United States over those attempting to legally immigrate?

We appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to hearing your response.

Sincerely,

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