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Wisconsin congressman after visiting southern border: 'We need to restart border wall construction'

Whitewater's police chief sent President Biden a letter asking for resources to help with 800 to 1,000 immigrants now living in the city since 2022 - specifically from Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Congress Border
Posted at 9:22 AM, Jan 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-04 10:22:27-05

Border security is expected to be a key issue in the 2024 presidential election - and concerns about record crossings aren't just for border states.

Wisconsin Republican Congressman Bryan Steil says it's also an issue for Wisconsin.

House Republicans are pushing for better border security with a high-profile visit to the southern border in Texas to make their case for changes.

That's where Political Reporter Charles Benson caught up with Congressman Bryan Steil by Zoom. Steil was among 60 Republican lawmakers near the Rio Grande for a news conference.

"During the press conference, a handful of migrants actually crossed the river into the United States again, illegal entry," said the Janesville Republican.

US Customs and Border Protection witnessed a monthly record of 300,000 migrant border crossings in December.

The migrant issue has hit big cities - as tens of thousands of migrants are bussed or flown to places like Chicago and New York.

Congressman Steil says that now includes Tuesday's arrival of migrants in Rockford, Ill.

Whitewater's Police Chief sent President Biden a letter asking for resources to help with 800 to 1,000 immigrants now living in the city since 2022 - specifically from Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Benson asked, "What is the situation in Wisconsin when it comes to migrants?

Rep Steil responded, "We've seen migrants travel to almost every community in the United States, including places like Whitewater, Wisconsin."

Individuals, once they arrive in the United States and are processed for parole, have the ability to travel anywhere they want.

Democrats downplayed the border visit by Republicans.

"It's very nice you go to the border, but the way to get something done is work," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The Biden Administration contends progress is being made.

"More border patrol agents, more asylum officers, more immigration judges, more investment in technology to battle the scourge of fentanyl," said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

But Steil says it's not enough.

Benson asked, "Can the border really be secured where no one can cross?"

Steil said, "There's two pieces to this, Charles. So, one is physical security. We do need to restart border wall construction. We need to hire more border patrol agents. That's only a piece of the puzzle. It's also enforcing the laws that are on the books."

The Biden Administration did agree to restart border construction last October.

Officials tell NBC News the number of crossings often fluctuates. On Monday, CBP said it encountered fewer than 500 migrants in the Del Rio sector of Texas, which includes Eagle Pass, down from 12,000 per day last month.