The situation at the border has steadily worsened over President Joe Biden’s tenure in office, and upcoming policy changes are likely to make things even more chaotic.
With just a little over a month to go before the end of the Title 42 policy—a public health order enacted by the Trump administration during the COVID-19 crisis to enable the speedy expulsion of migrants—a group of over 50 House Republicans are slamming the Biden administration over the strong possibility that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may have to tap into Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to cope with the expected border surge.
Despite efforts to keep masking mandates and even lockdown orders alive, and talk of a new omicron sub-variant of COVID-19 hovering in the background, Biden declared earlier this month that he would be putting an end to Trump’s protective policy. Predictably, there are now concerns of a massive rush at the southern border this summer as migrants seek to take advantage of more lenient border policies. And now, amid reports that the CBP is drawing up contingency plans to siphon off VA medical personnel to provide assistance to incoming migrants, some Republicans are expressing concerns that these measures will short-change Americans who rely on VA services.
@POTUS Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has asked whether former Vice President Joe Biden plans to divert VA doctors to help treat illegal migrants and border crossers.
— Richard B. Gorence (@RichardGorence) April 10, 2022
“On March 29, 2022, a CBP report indicated a surge of border crossings was imminent due to the rescinding of [the Title 42 policy],” the House Republicans, led by Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, wrote in a letter addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, according to Fox News.
“The report presents a dire situation that may result in as many as 18,000 possible encounters per day. If this number proves accurate, this could result in over 540,000 encounters in a single month. Currently, CBP does not have the facilities or manpower to handle the anticipated massive surge. Moving VA medical staff away from our veteran’s healthcare needs to examine illegal immigrants is a recipe for disaster. Wait times for a veteran to see their doctor can average 22 days and reach as high as 42 days. This is unacceptable mismanagement of federal government resources by the Biden administration,” the lawmakers contended.
The letter was signed by 53 House Republicans, among them the current GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York, Kat Cammack of Florida, Dan Crenshaw of Texas, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Lauren Boebert of Colorado.
In a separate statement, Rep. Hice upbraided the Biden Administration for its negligence with respect both to the border and to the country’s many veterans.
“Biden’s failed open border policies are no excuse to funnel resources away from our veterans,” he said. “Our men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our liberties and our country’s sovereignty deserve the best resources for their health care needs. The Biden Administration must provide the American people answers. Even the thought of abandoning our veterans’ care for the needs of illegal aliens is disgraceful.”
Biden’s failed open border policies are no excuse to funnel resources away from our veterans! https://t.co/3Y8ZxJlKHn
— Rep. Jody Hice (@CongressmanHice) April 14, 2022
Although the Department of Homeland Security, which manages the CBP, has not expressly stated that it would be using VA personnel at the border, it has not ruled out that possibility. And a CBP source familiar with the agency’s methodology told Fox News that such measures are always considered in a “whole-of-government” response to a crisis like the one impending at the border. In these circumstances, the source added, the VA personnel would most likely constitute a voluntary arrangement if asked by federal agencies to lend a hand.
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