Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., said Monday that drug cartels "were hoping" for Joe Biden to win the presidency because of his loose immigration enforcement policies, and they're now taking full advantage.
"It's unfortunate that we as a nation have allowed this crisis to develop, and it began last year, when then-candidate Biden continuously messaged that he was going to weaken law enforcement missions on the border, and stop construction of the wall, create a pathway to citizenship or amnesty for illegal residents that was already here," Higgins said at a news conference in El Paso on Monday.
"The cartels were listening. Most of you know that; that the cartels' infrastructure is incredibly well developed and they are very well funded. So they began getting ready and they were hoping for a Biden victory," he added.
New York Republican Rep. John Katko, ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the cartels are exploiting the southern border because Biden has rolled back many of former President Donald Trump's immigration enforcement policies. There has been a surge of illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border. In addition, the number of unaccompanied minors encountered at the border is on the rise.
"The cartels know when to exploit this southern border, and they're doing it now masterfully. They're doing it because President Biden rolled back a lot of the orders of the previous administration that were working. One of the perhaps most reprehensible things I've heard in a long time is Nancy Pelosi and some in the administration saying that this is caused by pent up demand from the previous administration," Katko said at the news conference.
"There's always a pent up demand for crime. Crossing the border illegally is illegal. And so we shouldn't accommodate that pent up demand. They seem to be signaling that we should. And here's what's happening. There's no question, this trip has confirmed it for me. There is indeed disorder at the border by executive order, no question about it," he added.
Biden has issued a series of executive orders on immigration including halting the construction of additional physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border and ending former President Trump's "Remain in Mexico" policy that required asylum seekers encountered at the border to wait for their court hearings in Mexico.
According to the 2020 National Drug Threat Assessment, Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO) "continue to control lucrative smuggling corridors, primarily across the SWB [southwest border], and maintain the greatest drug trafficking influence in the United States."
The Republican lawmakers who visited the border said Biden's executive orders that eliminated many Trump-era immigration policies has caused a crisis at the border. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said border agents he spoke with haven't seen so many unaccompanied minors trying to cross the border into the U.S. McCarthy said Biden's policies are encouraging parents to send their children into the U.S. illegally with human traffickers.
McCarthy said a family from Honduras revealed they came to the U.S. illegally after hearing Biden's message when he promised legal status to illegal immigrants.
"There's never a right time to have illegal immigration," McCarthy said. "And when you had your own secretary to simply say, 'We're not saying don't come, just don't come right now,' what happens is just what Maria talked about; the human trafficking of these children. When we walked those facilities, and we looked in those rooms that were packed, these were children with no parents. These were children who went numbers of days. Who knows what happened to them. Who knows who didn't make it. So, no, don't encourage them to come."
Higgins said Biden should meet with House Republicans to discuss the border crisis.
"You have been misled. Your policies that you have signed into effect are injuring the American citizens you serve and endangering the children of God that are making this trek to our southern border under incredibly dangerous circumstances," he said. "Allow the voice of reason to enter the White House. You took charge of this country on January the 20th and on the very same day, you gave control of our border to the cartels. You can fix this thing working with us."