WASHINGTON, DC – Today, following recent news reports that the number of migrants crossing the U.S. border has risen to pre-COVID-19 levels, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) urged the Biden Administration to address migration security concerns at the southern border amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Tomorrow, the Biden Administration will begin to process asylum seekers through the updated Migration Protection Protocols (MPP) program. Portman released the following statement:
“Following the recent news reports that the number of migrants crossing the U.S. border has risen to pre-COVID-19 levels, I urge the Biden Administration to address migration security concerns at our southern border. The Biden Administration has recently announced that they will suspend the Asylum Cooperative Agreements with the Governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras and will begin processing asylum seekers tomorrow through their updated Migration Protection Protocols (MPP). I am concerned that these changes will incentivize increased migration from Central America and decrease DHS’s ability to effectively secure our southern border as we continue to face humanitarian challenges amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Past migration surges have overwhelmed enforcement capacity and increased human trafficking as well as drug trafficking and other illegal activity. Any surge of migration at our southern border also risks further COVID-19 outbreaks and overwhelming our health systems, particularly in our border communities.
“Given capacity constraints and the ongoing pandemic, I urge the Biden Administration to step up efforts to collaborate with international partners – including the Governments in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador – to discourage migration and to provide alternatives for individuals and families fleeing economic conditions as well as those who are fleeing persecution and seeking asylum.
“I welcome the opportunity to work with Secretary Mayorkas to develop policy solutions that address the need for legal and orderly processes for migration, while also securing our borders and protecting the American people.”