Katko leads bipartisan introduction of Border Surge Response and Resilience Act

U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY) on April 1 led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in offering legislation that would activate access to a supplemental federal fund designed to help address humanitarian concerns related to irregular migrant surges at the nation’s southwest border.

“After hearing firsthand from border patrol agents, it’s clear they need interagency backup and accountability across the federal government to appropriately handle border surges,” said Rep. John Katko, ranking member of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee.

Currently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is encountering more than 3,500 migrants on average per day, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Katko’s office, which noted that the increased numbers are further straining the holding and processing facilities operated by CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which are operating at less than 30 percent capacity due to COVID-19 constraints. 

“Agents and officers on the frontlines are suffering through another crisis, in the midst of a global pandemic, and some still haven’t been vaccinated,” Rep. Katko added. “We need greater confidence that the federal government can manage these crises going forward. This bill would do just that.”

Rep. Katko sponsored the Border Surge Response and Resilience Act, H.R. 2321, with 14 original cosponsors, including U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX), to require that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and federal partners establish a plan to address such migrant surges with transparent metrics that would spur access to a specific federal fund, according to a statement released by Rep. Katko’s office. 

Building on recommendations from the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC), the fund would allow DHS to address immediate resourcing needs when a humanitarian crisis develops at the border so that the department doesn’t have to reprogram money from security priorities to fund food, clothing, blankets, transportation, and other resources that are being depleted, the summary says.

“We expect this to reduce overall costs and protect important homeland security funding from being reprogrammed for surge response purposes,” according to the summary.