A provision of the National Defense Authorization Act would mandate that defense officials brief Congress quarterly on the situation troops are facing at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said this mandate was included in the must-pass legislation that funds the Department of Defense in order to bring increased attention to the issue.
“Many of my Republican colleagues and I believe that this lax approach to border security must end — now. The NDAA’s provision for quarterly briefings on border security will ensure that the highest levels of the Department of Defense are focused on the crisis at the southwest border, and compels them to brief Congress every three months on its plans for supporting border security operations,” Inhofe said in a statement, according to Stars and Stripes.
The NDAA specifically calls for the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense or another assistant secretary to provide an unclassified briefing, with a classified component, to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees every 90 days.
The Border Patrol encountered more than 230,000 immigrants in October, which is roughly 66,000 more than the previous year.
Title 42, a Trump-era policy expected to expire later this month, allows the United States to release immigrants, typically from Mexico and Central American countries, usually within 24 to 48 hours after screening. With the order ending on Dec. 20, the Border Patrol will not be able to return people across the border immediately and will arrest each illegal immigrant and detain them. However, the Border Patrol does not have the capacity to detain immigrants for as long as it takes to process people due to overcrowding facilities.
House Republicans, ahead of taking the majority when the next Congress is sworn in come early January, have already announced their intent to prioritize the situation at the border.
In July of this year, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved a request from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asking for up to 2,500 troops to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection starting Oct. 1 through September 2023. National Guardsmen from Republican- and Democratic-led states are among the troops who are headed south.