SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Spencer Cox joined 18 other Republican governors in signing a joint letter sent to President Joe Biden on Tuesday requesting control of the crisis at the border.
"We call on you to take action on the crisis at the southern border immediately," the letter states. "Contrary to statements from your administration, the border is neither closed nor secure."
The letter cites a "staggering surge" in recent border crossings reported by the Customs and Border Patrol, with 172,000 encounters in March, "the highest number in nearly 20 years, as well as 18,890 unaccompanied children, the largest monthly number in history."
The GOP governors who signed the letter include Cox, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Idaho Gov. Brad Little, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon.
"The crisis is too big to ignore and is now spilling over the border states into all of our states," the letter states.
In an interview with NBC News' "Today" show on April 30, Biden blamed former President Donald Trump's administration for ongoing problems at the U.S.-Mexico border, citing its failure to cooperate and share critical information during the presidential transition period. Biden also declined to call the border situation a "crisis," while acknowledging his administration has struggled to reunite the children and families who have been separated.
In the joint letter sent to the president on Tuesday, the Republican governors noted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services "called upon states to identify potential housing locations for migrants. In addition, the department circumvented our states altogether by asking private organizations and nonprofits to house unaccompanied migrant children. Often these facilities lack adequate security."
"Allowing the federal government to place a potentially unlimited number of unaccompanied migrant children into our states' facilities for an unspecified length of time with almost zero transparency is unacceptable and unsustainable," the letter continues. "We have neither the resources nor the obligation to solve the federal government's problem and foot the bill for the consequences of this administration's misguided actions."
The crisis is too big to ignore and is now spilling over the border states into all of our states.
In the letter, the governors also said Biden's border policies "enticed a rush of migrants to our border and incentivized an influx of illegal crossings by using irresponsible rhetoric and reversing a slew of policies — from halting border wall construction to eliminating asylum agreements to refusing to enforce immigration laws."
"Even officials of our neighbor, Mexico, reportedly conveyed concerns that the shift in U.S. policy is stoking illegal immigration and creating business for organized crime," the letter states. "As Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stated, 'They see him as the migrant president, and so many feel they're going to reach the United States. We need to work together to regulate the flow, because this business can't be tackled from one day to the next.'"
The Republican governors blamed the border crisis "entirely" on "reckless federal policy reversals executed within your first 100 days in office."
"The rhetoric of the Biden administration and the rollback of critical agreements with our allies have led to the inhumane treatment of tens of thousands of children and undermined a fragile immigration system," they wrote in the letter. "While the most direct victims of the policy changes will be the children exploited and trafficked by gangs and cartels, the disastrous impact of your policies on America's recovery will be far reaching."
The governors wrote federal, state and local officials "are overwhelmed, and the situation on the ground is heartbreaking. After a dangerous journey, many children are living in overcrowded conditions with uncertain futures and without parents or loved ones to care for them."
The letter states in addition to a "humanitarian crisis," the "lack of border security is a criminal one, threatening the safety of American citizens."
The letter states U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported a 233% spike in seizures of fentanyl compared to January last year, "exacerbating the nation's opioid epidemic." The governors added law enforcement officials are "recovering drugs, illegal narcotics and weapons being smuggled across the border by cartels — the same cartels that are also trafficking men, women, and children and jeopardizing their lives."
"At a time when our country is trying to recover from a once-in-a-generation pandemic, the last thing we need is a self-created crisis that exploits families, undermines public safety and threatens our national security," the letter states. "We urge you to take action to end the humanitarian crisis and secure our southern border immediately."