Attorney General Knudsen demands Congress grant states power to combat illegal immigration crisis
HELENA – Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen joined 25 other state attorneys general in urging Congress to grant state officials more power to combat illegal immigration and protect their citizens from the dangers coming in through the southern border as the Biden administration continuously fails to secure the border.
In a letter sent Monday, the attorneys general ask Speaker of the House Mike Johnson to schedule a hearing for the Immigration Enforcement Partnership Act of 2023 (H.R. 1337) on an expedited basis and prioritize its enactment which would allow state officials to perform the functions of federal immigration officials when the Secretary of Homeland Security refuses to do the job.
“The southern border has remained open throughout President Biden’s term, allowing dangerous drugs, crime, and likely even terrorists into the country,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “I will do everything I can in Montana to combat the crisis Biden has created, but until the border is secure the problem will not be solved. If the President and his staff refuse to do their job to protect the American people, state officials must be allowed to step in for the safety of our citizens.”
Record-breaking numbers of illegal immigrants are continuing to flood across the southern border that the Biden administration has left wide open. More than seven million illegal immigrants have walked freely into the country since Biden took office. The most recent statistics released by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) show 269,735 encounters in September alone. Last month, there were nearly 1,000 ‘known gotaways’ each day according to CBP sources.
Additionally, more than 280 people on the terrorist watch list have been identified at the southwest border by Border Patrol during the Biden Administration, including 169 in fiscal year 2023. The recent horrific Hamas attacks on Israel shine even more light on the risks the open border has created. Just days ago, a leaked CBP document recognized that “’foreign fighters’ from terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah ‘may attempt to travel to or from the area of hostilities in the Middle East via circuitous transit across the Southwest border.’”
Biden’s open-border policies and failure to act are also allowing fentanyl to wreak havoc in Montana and communities across the country. In October, 110 pounds of fentanyl was seized in the Rio Grande Valley alone, enough of the drug to kill 25 million Americans. In Montana, Attorney General Knudsen reported recently that anti-drug forces in the state have already seized nearly two times the amount of fentanyl this year compared to all of 2022 and that 61 fentanyl-linked deaths had been reported by the State Crime Lab as of early September.
The Immigration Enforcement Partnership Act would allow the attorneys general to tackle these problems head-on as it “authorizes a state attorney general to request in writing that the Department of Homeland Security adequately fulfill certain duties related to immigration enforcement. Within 30 days of receiving such a request, DHS must ensure that such duties are adequately fulfilled by DHS officers and employees or authorize that state’s officials to fulfill such duties. The state attorney general may sue DHS for failure to meet this bill’s requirements.” The legislation has been introduced twice but still has not received a hearing.
“Had Congress acted sooner, the U.S. might not be setting yet another record for CBP encounters at the border,” the attorneys general state. “We will never know, but if we take action now to give states the authority to do the job Biden and Mayorkas refuse to do, we could prevent another record next year, start to curb American deaths caused by Mexican and Chinese fentanyl, and reduce the number of terrorists entering our country.”
In addition to Attorney General Knudsen, attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming signed the Florida-led letter.
Read the full letter here.
Since taking office, Attorney General Knudsen has been working to stop illegal immigration and urging the Biden administration to secure the southern border. Most recently, he demanded the Biden administration correct course and stop releasing illegal immigrants crossing at the wide-open southern border into the United States. He also recently signed onto a brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to reverse a district court’s ruling ordering Texas to remove a buoy barrier along the Texas-Mexico border meant to keep illegal immigrants from crossing into the United States. Earlier this year, he filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a federal criminal prohibition on encouraging or inducing illegal immigration into the United States.