Sen. Johnson Joins Letter Addressing the Biden Administration’s “Mass Amnesty” for Migrants

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) joined U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), and 19 of their Senate GOP colleagues, in sending an oversight letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland, questioning the administration’s dismissal of over 350,000 removal cases and highlighting the erosive effect of these policies on the U.S. legal immigration system. 

Under the Biden administration, the United States has seen the worst border crisis in its history. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported more than 7.8 million encounters with illegal immigrants at the southwest border over the last three years, and more than 9.5 million encounters nationwide. At the onset of the Biden administration, the president signed a series of executive orders rolling back former President Donald Trump's border security initiatives, leading to a spike in illegal border crossings.

Recent reports revealed the administration granted thousands of illegal immigrants “mass amnesty” by terminating more than 350,000 asylum cases in a little over two-years. This change in practice was instituted by a 2022 memo from ICE Principal Legal Adviser Kerry Doyle, instructing agency prosecutors to advise immigration judges on nonpriority cases suitable for dismissal. As a result, the report indicates 102,550 cases were dismissed in 2022, followed by 149,000 in 2023, and 113,843 cases in the first four months of 2024, compared to just over 26,000 during the entire Trump administration. Since 2021, 77% of asylum seekers have been allowed to remain in the United States, according to a study published by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. 

Further, the letter seeks to ensure transparency and accountability and requests detailed responses regarding the administration’s handling of immigration and border security. The senators raised several questions about the administration's actions, including theaccuracy of the reported figures, the justification for the “precedent-breaking” surge in dismissals, and the measures in place to prevent this policy from incentivizing illegal immigration and compromising national security.

The letter criticizes President Biden’s recent executive order purporting to close the border, as “too little, too late.”  Theadministration’s action was also an admission that President Biden always had the authority to secure the border, despite his claims otherwise. 

“This administration’s approach has consistently downplayed the severity of the border crisis, initially denying its existence, then reluctantly acknowledging it, and now attempting to address it through inadequate measures,” the senators wrote. “The repeated failures in border management under your leadership have led to an unprecedented backlog of 3.5 million asylum cases, posing a substantial burden on our immigration system and increasing the risk of criminal activities by illegal aliens.” 

“The American people deserve transparency and accountability regarding the administration’s handling of immigration and border security,” the senators concluded.  “The current state of affairs at our southern border is unacceptable and demands immediate and effective solutions. We urge you to provide a comprehensive response to these questions and outline a clear plan to restore the integrity of our immigration system.”

Sens. Johnson and Cramer were joined on this letter by Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

Full text of the letter can be found here.