A pair of House Republicans sent a letter to the Biden administration on Tuesday demanding that it come clean on how much the illegal immigration crisis at the border is costing American taxpayers.
Reps. Jason Smith of Missouri and John Katko of New York sent the missive to Shalanda Young, acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, seeking information on how funds are being spent before the Biden administration asks Congress to authorize more spending.
“It is apparent that hundreds of millions, if not billions, of tax dollars are being spent as a result of the transpiring disaster. We are particularly concerned about recent reports that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are having to redirect resources from operating budget accounts, including agent payroll, to respond to the turmoil at our border,” the two wrote in their letter.
“It is clear to us that the time is fast approaching where the Biden Administration will ask Congress, and the American taxpayer, to authorize the use of billions of federal dollars to bail them out of the mess of an unsecured border and a mass influx of illegal immigration,” it continued.
They noted the 400 percent increase in encounters between migrants and Customs and Border Protection officials and that the total number of apprehensions at the border already this year have surpassed the total number for fiscal year 2020.
“While it is evident that President Biden’s immigration policies have encouraged historic levels of migration to the border, exacerbating the national security, humanitarian, and public health crisis, what remains unclear is the true cost — both current and future — of responding to this policy-driven crisis,” Smith and Katko wrote.
They questioned how a Texas nonprofit, Family Endeavors, won a no-bid contract that is worth up to $350 billion to provide care for migrant children after hiring Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, a former Immigration and Customs Enforcement official who advised the Biden administration on Department of Homeland Security policy.
Smith and Katko raised concerns about the $19.2 million to operate CBP’s processing facility in Donna, Texas, that has reached 420 percent capacity, the $86 million spent on hotel rooms to temporarily house migrants, and the costs of paying sponsors to travel to pick up child migrants.
“Many of these adjusted costs were not budgeted or appropriated for, nor were they approved by Congress. Additionally, these costs were not accounted for in the most recent budget outline submitted by the Biden Administration. What is even more disconcerting is the budget outline for the upcoming fiscal year calls for a freeze in funding for DHS,” the two wrote.
Katko, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said the border crisis is of Biden’s own making, “yet American taxpayers are left footing the bill.”
“No administration should have the unchecked authority to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to cover up self-made chaos without approval from Congress. It’s time for the Biden Administration to answer some tough questions, including why they proposed a freeze in funding for DHS while they are spending millions of dollars on hotel rooms and transportation for migrants who have illegally entered our country,” he said in a statement.
Smith, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, said the Biden White House owes the American people an “honest assessment” of what’s happening at the border and the bill taxpayers will be on the hook for.
“For months, President Biden and his Administration have tried to downplay the disaster while spending hundreds of millions on the response. Congress and the American people need to know what is being spent, where, and what more will be requested by the Administration as it contends with a crisis of its own creation,” he said.