WASHINGTON — Republicans have been criticizing President Joe Biden for the surging number of migrants trying to cross into the U.S. from Mexico. Their attacks intensified after the administration last week canceled more contracts to build the border wall championed by Donald Trump.

What You Need To Know

  • Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville toured the US-Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas weeks after thousands of Haitian migrants were cleared from encampments in the area

  • The congressman is calling on President Joe Biden to continue to build physical barriers despite plans by the Department of Homeland Security to cancel more builds

  •  U.S. Customs and Border Protection says border encounters dropped by 2% in August 

“The Administration continues to call on Congress to cancel remaining border wall funding and instead fund smarter border security measures, like border technology and modernization of land ports of entry, that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border,” wrote the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a press release on the news last week.

Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville touring the border in Del Rio, Texas last week, says this decision by DHS is disconnected from what he heard on the ground.

“Every border patrol agent I spoke to spoke about the importance of investing in Border Patrol and the importance of building the wall,” said Rep. Steil.

Rep. Bryan Steil (pictured center) talks to CBP officer about migrant crossings at the US-Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas (Photo courtesy of Rep. Bryan Steil)

The congressman joined two other Republican Congress members in visiting the site where thousands of migrants, many fleeing Haiti, set up massive encampments last month. They were long gone before Steil’s visit, many of them flown back to Haiti at the direction of President Biden.

“The administration won't give a final number as to how many were ultimately returned to their country of origin and how many were released into the United States with a notice to appear,” said Rep. Steil.

Rep. Steil is pressing the administration to address patrol understaffing, boost funding for border security and continuing the build of physical barriers He was the fourth House Republican from Wisconsin to visit the border this year. Only Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay has not made the trip. No Democrat from Wisconsin has visited since 2019.

Steil defended the trips by his GOP colleagues despite not representing a border state.

“Look at the drug flows coming into the United States of America and understanding where those drugs are coming from?” He said. “We have significant drug flows coming across the Mexico US border that are flowing into communities all throughout the United States is a federal legislative action. I think it's important that we secure the southern border, we prevent the humanitarian crisis that's playing out and we secure our communities across the United States.”