When a congressional committee announced plans to move forward with impeachment proceedings against President Joe Biden’s top immigration official Wednesday, Utah’s Reps. Burgess Owens and Celeste Maloy were at the nation’s southern border to observe how the White House is responding to a surge of migrants there.
“The crisis at our southern border is an unprecedented threat to the safety and security of Americans, and President Biden doesn’t care,” Owens wrote in a post on X linking to a news conference Wednesday.
The trip comes one week before a scheduled impeachment hearing for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in front of the House Homeland Security Committee, and before Congress is expected to resume negotiations over immigration policies and border security funding.
Republicans blame the record level of migrants caught crossing the border in recent weeks on Biden’s rollback of former President Donald Trump’s restrictive immigration policies. The Biden Administration, meanwhile, attributes the high numbers to increased displacement in the Americas and has asked Congress for more money to address it.
“Congressional Republicans need to stop playing political games with border security and provide the resources our law enforcement personnel need to keep the Southwest border secure and stop the flow of fentanyl into the United States,” wrote Shalanda Young, who advises the president on budget matters, in an October request.
In an interview with CNN on Wednesday reacting to the planned proceedings, Mayorkas echoed those points, saying the agency does not have the resources it needs “to perform our jobs as fully and completely as we could.”
Owens’ office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Mayorkas’ impeachment, nor on the trip.
The Wednesday tour in Eagle Pass isn’t Owens’ first trip to Texas to assess the situation at the country’s southern border. In 2021, during a visit to McAllen, he told conservative TV station Newsmax that all Americans need to “be aware” of the “border issue.”
“[Immigrants] are coming to your neighborhoods, not knowing the language, not knowing the culture, and there is a cartel influence along the way,” Owens said at the time. The director of migration and refugee services for Catholic Community Services of Utah called his remarks “misinformation.”
Owens’ next stop is in Utah on Thursday to file to run for reelection, his campaign confirmed to The Salt Lake Tribune.
In a news release Tuesday about the trip, Owens said, “In Joe Biden’s first 100 days, he took 94 executive actions on immigration, including halting border wall construction, ending the successful Remain in Mexico policy, dismantling border security, and more, resulting in the worst border crisis our country has ever seen.”
Political correspondent Bryan Schott contributed to this story.
This story may be updated throughout the day.