House Republicans sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday to demand current technologies be used to protect the border from human and drug smuggling.
The letter was sent from House Committee on Homeland Security Ranking Member Rep. John Katko (R-NY) and Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) to express concerns with equipment left unused that could better secure the nation’s southern border.
“We are troubled by claims that DHS is not fully deploying innovative ‘smart’ technologies along the border, such as AST towers and fiber optic sensors, that have been procured by the federal government through contracts previously granted for building border barrier infrastructure,” the letter stated, according to a Fox News report.
“Instead of making use of these innovative technologies to improve security in our southern border, decrease the influx of illegal drugs and human trafficking operations, we have been told the federal government has decided to store them at significant expense while also placing a large burden on contractors, some of whom have been ordered to remain in an indefinite holding process. These contractors continue to incur significant costs while not being able to sell and/or wind down investments,” the letter added.
The concerns could increase if Title 42 is rescinded. The Trump-era health policy was scheduled to end last month but was temporarily blocked by a federal judge on May 20.
“This suit challenges an imminent, man-made, self-inflicted calamity: the abrupt elimination of the only safety valve preventing this administration’s disastrous border policies from devolving into an unmitigated catastrophe,” the attorneys general lawsuit said. U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays ruled that the lawsuit has merit and blocked Title 42’s end while the lawsuit moves forward.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced in April that it planned to end the policy on May 23. The announcement received bipartisan pushback from Republicans and moderate Democrats who expressed concerns over the impact of ending the policy on immigration.
“Title 42 has been an essential tool in combatting the spread of COVID-19 and controlling the influx of migrants at our southern border,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said in a statement. “We are already facing an unprecedented increase in migrants this year, and that will only get worse if the Administration ends the Title 42 policy. We are nowhere near prepared to deal with that influx. Until we have comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform that commits to securing our borders and providing a pathway to citizenship for qualified immigrants, Title 42 must stay in place.”
The Biden administration quickly appealed the ruling, according to a statement by White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
“The Administration disagrees with the court’s ruling, and the Department of Justice has announced that it will appeal this decision,” Jean-Pierre wrote. “The authority to set public health policy nationally should rest with the Centers for Disease Control, not with a single district court. However, in compliance with the court’s injunction, the Biden Administration will continue to enforce the CDC’s 2020 Title 42 public health authority pending the appeal.”