Sen. Lee Introduces Bill to Protect Vulnerable Immigrants

March 7, 2023


WASHINGTON – Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Steve Daines (R-MT), Katie Britt (R-AL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Mike Braun (R-IN) introduced the Stopping Border Surges Act to address loopholes in our immigration system that encourage vulnerable immigrant populations to take dangerous, illegal paths of entry into the United States. The Stopping Border Surges Act includes reforms that would reduce unsustainable surges of aliens; strengthen our asylum process; eliminate the incentive to send children to the border; and dampen the exploitative power of coyotes and cartels.

“Loopholes in our immigration system perversely compel women and children to entrust their savings, futures, and lives to cartels and coyotes – endangering the safety of vulnerable immigrants, and undermining the integrity of our system,” said Sen. Lee. “This bill would help stop these dangerous opportunities for abuse.”

“Over the last two years, we’ve continued to see a historic number of illegal border crossings and an administration that refuses to address gaps in the law,” said Sen. Ernst. “With the White House turning a blind eye to the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border, it is time for Congress to come together and act. This bill will close several loopholes – ones that are being abused by dangerous cartels – and help stop the flood of illegal activity at the border.”

“President Biden’s wide-open southern border has created a disaster. In 2022, there were a record 2.4 million border encounters and more than twice as many deceased migrants were discovered at the border last year than any other year on record,” said Sen. Daines. “We must close the dangerous loopholes in our immigration system to protect vulnerable populations that are falling victim to President Biden’s backwards border policies.”

“Our nation is facing a historic national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” said Sen. Britt. “We must end the incentives and close the loopholes that are pushing people to illegally enter our country. The only people benefiting from the current chaos are bad actors, especially the drug cartels. I will continue to fight to keep American families and communities safe.”

“The border crisis brought on by the Biden administration’s policy failures has created an environment ripe for the exploitation of both legal loopholes and migrants,” said Sen. Grassley. “Children especially are being used by smugglers, coyotes and the cartels. Closing the loopholes will help protect lives and start reestablishing some order on the southern border.”

Sen. Lee’s bill would eliminate the expansion of the Flores Settlement Agreement by allowing alien children accompanied by parents to be held with that parent for the duration of the parent’s adjudication. This would end the incentive for non-parents to claim an unknown child as their own. It also removes any incentive for parents to bring children with them on the hazardous journey to the U.S. Border. Unfortunately, non-parents are increasingly using children as a get-out-of-jail-free card at the child’s expense. These children are often “recycled” by smugglers forced to cross multiple times to ensure admission for more adults.

The United States currently return unaccompanied children from Mexico and Canada quickly and safely. Children from other countries, however, are placed in a lengthy removal process. They are released into the United States with the same adults that smuggled them into the country. Consequently, the policy incentivizes the enlistment of couriers to smuggle children across the border. Sen. Lee’s legislation ends this incentive by extending the same seamless process available to children from Mexico and Canada.

For a one pager, click HERE.
For full bill text, click HERE.