FIRST ON FOX: More than two dozen governors are calling on President Biden to provide “honest, accurate, detailed information” about the ongoing migrant crisis at the southern border, including where migrants are moving to and data on removals and asylum claims — as they warn that states are facing “staggering” costs related to the crisis.
“As a result of your policies which incentivize illegal immigration, our states are carrying the burden of both the years-long surge in illegal border crossings and cartels’ coordinated trafficking of drugs and human beings,” the 25 governors led by Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, say in a letter to Biden.
“States are on the front lines, working around-the clock responding to the effects of this crisis: shelters are full, food pantries empty, law enforcement strained, and aid workers exhausted,” they say. “As governors, we call on you to provide honest, accurate, detailed information on where the migrants admitted at the southern border are being relocated in the United States, in addition to comprehensive data on asylum claim timelines and qualification rates, and successful deportations.”
The letter comes amid a fresh spike in numbers at the southern border. Numbers dipped in June but have been rising in July and August, with sources telling Fox last week that August numbers are expected to be around 230,000 encounters.
Multiple Border Patrol sectors are facing overcrowding and agents have been releasing migrants onto the streets in Tucson and San Diego. Fox has previously reported how leadership has sought to speed up the process of either removing or releasing migrants due to the numbers they are facing. Agents apprehended over 8,000 illegal immigrants in a single 24-hour period this week, increasing to 9,700+ when combined with migrants who entered via ports of entry. There are over 21,000 migrants in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody.
The letter also notes an increase in illegal crossings at the northern border, increased apprehensions of migrants on the terror watch list and the ongoing fentanyl crisis — a drug which is typically brought across the U.S. land border after its production in Mexico. The governors point to the ongoing costs of the crisis to states.
“States are forced to provide financial, educational, and medical support to migrants entering our country illegally– support that is skyrocketing in cost due to record inflation and the unprecedented influx of migrants into our states,” they say. “The financial impact on the states is staggering, and it is our hardworking citizens who shoulder that burden.”
Gianforte, who is leading the letter, is a member of the American Governors’ Border Strike Force and visited the border after Title 42 expired in May. He also signed legislation banning “sanctuary” cities in his state on Montana.
While the signees on the letter are Republicans, they note that criticism of the government’s handling of the crisis is “not a partisan issue” and highlighted recent criticism from Democrats including from New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Mass. Gov. Maura Healey, who have accused the government of inaction and called for more funding and a national emergency declaration.
Along with Gianforte, the governors of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, George, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming have all signed the letter.
The governors argue that without the information they request, “we cannot fulfill our fundamental duties to protect our citizens while providing our communities with appropriate services.”
The administration has repeatedly pushed back against criticism of its policies from Republicans, saying that there have been signs that its strategy of increasing “lawful” migrant pathways, while imposing new consequences for illegal entry and working with international partners is working. It has pointed to progress it has made with targeting fentanyl smuggling, including operations that have stopped nearly 10,000 pounds of fentanyl in two months and the arrest of more criminals for fentanyl-related crimes in the last two years than in the previous five years combined.
Meanwhile, it has called for Congress to provide more funding — including a $4 billion request for immigration and border funding in a supplemental funding request — and pushed a comprehensive immigration reform bill to fix what it says is a “broken” system.
Republicans, meanwhile, have pushed their own bill which would radically overhaul border security and asylum laws, and are seeking to include it in a continuing resolution to keep the government open into October.
Fox News’ Bill Melugin contributed to this report.