Conservative Republicans on congressional immigration and border security subcommittees praise President Donald Trump’s response to the migrant caravan — but warn more needs to be done to stop the marchers heading toward America.
Trump is working to ensure the migrant caravan isn’t allowed to enter the country illegally. But his response has sparked a debate on how the country should treat foreigners claiming to be refugees from poverty and violent crime.
Under current U.S. law, neither factor is considered sufficient to justify awarding an individual with refugee status. Thousands of migrants in the caravan presently marching north from southern Mexico toward the United States say they are fleeing poverty and crime back home and will seek asylum if they make it to this country.
“My thought is this is not an organic movement,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) (pictured above right) told LifeZette on Tuesday. “It’s become kind of a mob. We saw what happened when they were en route to the Mexican border barriers. They threw rocks and attacked the Mexican police, who were trying to process people to see if they were there illegally or not.”
Trump and others have also doubted whether every person in the caravan is simply fleeing criminal danger or economic distress. The migrant caravan has grown considerably in size, swelling to as much as 10,000 participants since starting earlier in the month.
“This migrant caravan is a clear example of the magnitude of the illegal immigration problem,” Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) told LifeZette. “Mexico has a responsibility to stop this caravan from reaching our border. I support the president [in] sanctioning countries that have encouraged this lawlessness.”
Trump announced he will be ending or reducing aid to the countries that allowed the migrants to pass through, including Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
He is also mobilizing the military along the border, with 800 troop engineers slated to provide logistical backup to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency.
“It’s basically been an army of illegal migrants moving forward,” Biggs said. “And I think President Trump is right to start taking away funding. I think we need to put military personal in position. We need to turn away people who come to the border to impose their lawlessness on the United States.”
Biggs’ proposed “Fund and Complete the Border Wall Act of 2018” penalizes the home country when an illegal immigrant is apprehended at our borders.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate subcommittee on border security and immigration, said in a tweet Monday that it’s “not fair to legal immigrants going through proper LEGAL process … We need to help Trump admin secure border+close immig loopholes.”
PresTrump as commander in chief is right to defend country/borders & stop the attack on natl sovereignty from the 7000+ migrant caravan heading to USA. Not fair to legal immigrants going through proper LEGAL process We need to help Trump admin secure border+close immig loopholes
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) October 22, 2018
The president initially appeared to be making some progress with his threat to end foreign aid. Mexico sent police to its southern border to stop the caravan from coming through after the threat was made. But despite those efforts, the caravan has been allowed to continue moving north.
“He is trying to put pressure, which is really all he can do at this point, on those nations like Mexico, Guatemala El Salvador and Honduras,” Biggs said. “That’s really all you can do — put pressure on them to, basically, bring their people back. Mexico should be arresting people who are facilitating the crossing as well.”
Biggs said that outside of political pressure, there isn’t much the president can do until the migrants actually get to the border.
He also argued the countries should penalize their own citizens who provide support for the migrants like food, water and shelter.
“We can’t do anything like that, we can just put pressure on those nations,” Biggs said. “But when they come to our border, we just need to summarily turn them away. I think that’s the purpose of all the military on the border. We need to be ready and just summarily say, ‘No, you can’t come in.'”