Chairman Burgess Opening Statement on H.R. 3602

As prepared for delivery:

Good evening.

President Biden’s failed leadership destabilized our national security and that of our allies. Whether at home or abroad, the world has gotten more dangerous on his watch—not less. That much is indisputable. House Republicans are committed to safeguarding Americans and our strategic partners from the fallout of this President’s reckless decision-making.

In keeping with that commitment, the Rules Committee will consider H.R. 3602, the End the Border Catastrophe Act, a measure designed to address the national security crisis President Biden created at our southern border. Since he took office, there have been more than 7.6 million illegal immigrant encounters at our southwest border. Estimates suggest upwards of 1.8 million additional illegal immigrants evaded Border Patrol and entered our country. 

For context, the Obama Administration believed 1,000 crossings a day was a crisis. We’re well past that now. Under the Biden Administration, we’ve witnessed 38 straight months with more than 100,000 illegal immigrant encounters at our southwest border.

This didn’t happen in a vacuum. The Biden Administration made over 60 rash choices that put our country on the brink, including the decisions to stop border wall construction, formally end the successful ‘Remain in Mexico’ program of President Trump, and reinstate catch-and-release policies. 

Now, America’s national security lies in tatters. Over 5,000 illegal immigrants are being released into the U.S. every day, more than 20,000 Chinese nationals illegally crossed the southern border in FY24 so far, and at least 357 individuals on the terrorist watchlist tried to enter our country under this President’s leadership. 

Just last month, an illegal immigrant admitted to Border Patrol he hoped to make a bomb and travel to New York. But how many of his compatriots evaded apprehension and entered our country? The Biden Administration has no idea. That should scare all of us.

This self-inflicted crisis has also shattered our communities. It continues to fuel the illicit fentanyl epidemic and brought everything from retail theft rings to outright murder to our streets. Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student with her whole life ahead of her, was allegedly murdered by an illegal immigrant who travelled here—and was released into the interior—on President Biden’s watch.

This cruel and dangerous reality is simply unsustainable. Yet the Biden Administration has proven time and time again they are not interested in defending our own borders.

In the wake of their dereliction of duty, House Republicans must continue to step up and make every effort to truly end this nightmare. The bill before us today reiterates our commitment to implementing strong border security measures. It forces the Biden Administration to restart construction of the border wall, increases the number of Border Patrol agents and provides bonus pay, and ends catch-and-release and abuse of executive immigration authority. It also requires transparency from the Department of Homeland Security on illegal crossings and strengthens the asylum process.

The bill simultaneously provides financial relief for Texas as it bears the brunt of this invasion. It is wholly unfair that Texans are expected to shoulder many of the financial and human costs of this President’s open-borders agenda.

Border security is national security. Unlike President Biden, House Republicans will not abandon our responsibility to keep Americans safe. This measure will deliver on that obligation and curtail the worst impulses of this administration.

Apr 17, 2024