Holcomb, Kemp join governors at border, urging paralyzed feds to act

Republican governors during a press conference in Eagles Pass, Texas, on Feb. 4, 2024. (Credit: Office of Gov. Holcomb)

Feb 04, 2024

At a windswept press conference at ground zero of the U.S. southern border crisis at Eagle Pass, Texas, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb joined Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and more than a dozen Republican colleagues Sunday afternoon to urge the federal government to act.

Abbott described the situation as an “invasion” of illegal immigrants apprehended at the border. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp added that 169 people on a terror watch list have entered the country and are not accounted for. "We're standing with Gov. Abbott today because if our border is not secure, our country is not secure," Kemp said.

Kemp added that 458 million lethal doses of fentanyl, 56,000 pounds of methamphetamine, and $51 million in cash have been confiscated at the Eagle Pass border. He said that was just a fraction of what is actually moving across the border.

"Every governor is dealing with that," Kemp said. "This is ruining lives in our states, it's ruined our communities and it has taken a toll on our families. It is time that something was done about this. That's why we're standing here as governors to make sure something is done. Every state in the country is depending on [President] Joe Biden acting.

“There are people on the terror watch list apprehended at the border. The [federal government] does not know the imminent dangers we are facing. Then you see the deadly loss of life. These are crimes that don’t happen now and then; they happen all the time. There is extraordinary, imminent danger.”

In a statement before the Eagle Pass press conference, Holcomb said, "Human traffickers, drug cartels and terrorists are illegally pouring across America’s southern border and then traveling to communities far beyond, threatening our national and economic security. The Biden administration and Congress need to stop talking and start acting. It’s time for results, not more rhetoric. 

"One of the few basic constitutional duties of the federal government [is] to set critical immigration policy, yet they continue a two-decade practice of kicking the can down the road, leaving in their wake long-lasting adverse impacts on our nation, states, cities and communities," Holcomb said.

State Affairs reported on Friday that Holcomb’s trip to Texas comes after he and 24 other Republican governors issued a joint statement on Jan. 25 expressing solidarity with Abbott in his ongoing feud over immigration policy with the BIden administration.

Holcomb added, "If unregulated immigration continues to transpire, we governors will continue to deal with the aftereffects inside our home states. The only way to resolve this is to first stop the historically high flow of illegal migrants crossing the border and then get to work on passing a legal, efficient immigration policy that actually will contribute to a needed and healthy workforce.”

After the governors' joint statement, Biden issued his own statement on Jan. 26: "For too long, we all know the border’s been broken. It’s long past time to fix it.” Biden’s office has been negotiating with a bipartisan group of senators to give the president a “new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed.”

"Let’s be clear," Biden said in the statement. "What’s been negotiated would — if passed into law — be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country."

The Indiana governor did not speak at Sunday’s press conference. But he and the other governors attended a prior briefing detailing the scope of the problem.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "Joe Biden has completely failed to protect our borders and our people. Congress has to step up. Because of his [Biden’s] failures, Gov. Abbott and governors have to step up." 

Brian Howey is senior writer and columnist for Howey Politics Indiana/State Affairs. Find Howey on Facebook and X @hwypol.

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