Joyce heading to southern border

U.S. Rep. John Joyce, R-13th District, is set to travel to Arizona for three days next week to observe the security and humanitarian crisis at the nation’s southern border.

Joyce, a freshman representative, is taking on an issue for which Congress has been criticized for making no real progress.

“As a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, it is my job to work with the Trump administration to curb the increased flow of undocumented immigrants into our country, and heading to the southern border will assist me in that task,” a statement from Joyce said.

In March, U.S. Customs and Border Protection tallied 92,607 apprehensions at the Southwest border. That number comprises 53,077 families, 30,555 single adults and 8,975 unaccompanied children.

There were an additional 10,885 people in March deemed “inadmissible” — that includes people who are seeking lawful admission into the United States, presenting themselves to seek humanitarian protection under U.S. laws and individuals who withdraw an application for admission and return to their countries of origin within a short timeframe.

In March, those inadmissible individuals included 423 unaccompanied children, 100 accompanied minors and more than 4,000 families as well as about 6,000 single adults.

The apprehensions and inadmissibles together total 103,000 — a 12-year high for the month of March.

According to Joyce’s statement, his planned visit to the border will provide him with the opportunity to meet with experts on the front lines.

“This trip will provide me with a chance to report back to my constituents on the true extent of our problems and undo the damage caused by the Democrats who recklessly claimed for months that there was no crisis at the border,” Joyce’s statement read.

Some deny crisis

Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, the assistant House speaker, recently said there is no “crisis” on the southern border, and on Sunday, “Fox News Sunday” guest host Bill Hemmer asked Lujan about his statement in light of comments from former Obama administration De­part­ment of Homeland Se­cu­ri­ty Secretary Jeh Johnson who said: “We are truly in a crisis.”

“I would say there is a humanitarian crisis at the border, but one that was created by President Donald Trump with his policies,” Lujan responded.

Trump said on Tuesday he is not looking to restart his administration’s practice of separating migrant families despite reports that he was.

Fox News host Shepard Smith fact-checked Trump after the president claimed former President Barack Obama separated children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Smith said while former presidents had policies to apprehend and deport migrants who were in the country illegally, officials from the George W. Bush and Obama administrations “gave children a pass.”

“After President Trump issued the zero tolerance order (May 2018), officials did separate children from their parents,” Smith said. “Some families have not yet been reunited.”

He added that “the Trump administration did separate families. The Trump De­part­ment of Homeland Security estimates more than 2,300 children had been separated from their families by last spring.

According to a February report by the Congressional Research Service, since the zero tolerance policy was implemented, up to 3,000 children may have been separated from their parents. In addition, thousands more were separated prior to the public announcement of the policy change.

Following mostly critical public reaction, Trump issued an executive order last summer, mandating that DHS maintain custody of families during any criminal trial or immigration proceedings.

Appeared on Fox

Earlier this week, Joyce appeared on “Fox and Friends First” to advocate for legislative reforms to the immigration loopholes that he said are perpetuating the crisis.

The Fox host noted that Democrats and Republicans are in agreement that the situation at the southern border is an emergency and that more families are seeking asylum.

Asylum is a form of protection granted to individuals who can demonstrate that they are unable or unwilling to return to their country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution.

“We have legal loopholes (in asylum laws) that we must address,” Joyce said on Fox. “Right now, we are seeing children being used as pawns coming into our country. We need to be able to safely return children. We need to pass the legislation that will give Homeland Security the ability to return children safely to their homes. Right now, I would say that this legal loophole of presenting with a child is a fast pass into entry. We need to be able to address that. We as members of Congress need to pass legislation that will allow Homeland Se­cu­ri­ty to do the right thing, to return these children to their homes safely.”

Clarifying Joyce’s comments, spokesman Andrew Romeo said that “regarding returning children to safely to their homes, Rep. Joyce was referencing children who are coming over the border unaccompanied that need to be reunited with their families. Children who he referred to as ‘pawns’ are the ones coming over with their actual families and claiming asylum that they do not qualify for.”

Backs Trump requests

Joyce supports three major legislative reforms being requested by the Trump administration re­gard­ing immigration and the situation at the southern border.

One reform is ensuring unaccompanied children ar­riv­ing at the border can be returned home and reunited with their families. Another reform Joyce supports is allowing families to be sheltered together during immigration proceedings and returned home together if needed. Joyce also supports tightening asylum eligibility and raising the credible fear standard so immigrants can no longer abuse the system.

U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., is leading the delegation Joyce will be traveling with next week. The lawmakers will spend next Tuesday to Thursday in the Yuma area meeting with immigration officials.

Joyce is a staunch advocate for the wall on the southern border and recently signed a letter in support of Trump’s request for an additional $5 billion in funding for investments ranging from border security technology, aircraft, marine vessels, tactical infrastructure, information technology systems and the border wall system for the 2020 budget.

He also supported Trump’s 2020 budget request to pay for an additional 750 border patrol agents.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.