Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley accused the Biden administration on Tuesday of ignoring a crisis at the southern border following revelations that Customs and Border Protection shut down highway checkpoints so that personnel could be redirected to address a surge of migrants.
The senators urged Biden to act hours after Fox News reported that CBP had shut down a trio of checkpoints in Willcox, Arizona. The number of child migrants in custody at federal border facilities has tripled to 3,250 over the last two weeks, with many held longer than the three days allowed under the law.
“How much more will it take for the Biden administration to admit there is a crisis on the border?” Cruz wrote on Twitter.
Hawley called out the Biden administration for failing to take action.
“The border is approaching full-blown crisis, and the Biden Admin’s response is … nothing,” Hawley said.
Officials have noted a surge in immigration at the southern border since Biden entered the White House in January. CBP will release figures this week that are expected to show approximately 100,000 apprehensions in February alone, up from 78,000 in January.
So far, the White House resisted calls to label the situation at the border a crisis.
“I don’t think we need to sit here and put new labels on what we’ve already conveyed is challenging,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing.
Biden has reversed a series of Trump-era immigration policies in the first weeks of his administration. Despite the changes, Psaki said the “majority” of people who arrive at the border are turned away.
Earlier this week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday asked staffers to volunteer to help CBP with what he described as “overwhelming numbers” of migrants.
CBP sources warned that the decision to shut down checkpoints could weaken anti-trafficking efforts and allow smugglers easier access to the border.
The agency confirmed the move in a statement to Fox earlier Tuesday.
“Tucson Sector has redirected manpower, based on operational needs in response to shifting traffic patterns, resulting in the closure of several tactical checkpoints in southeastern Arizona,” CBP said in a statement regarding the checkpoint closures.
The agency said the checkpoints would re-open “as manpower and activity levels dictate.”
Fox News’ Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.