Gov. Pete Ricketts signed onto a letter with 19 other Republican governors asking President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to take action to close the U.S. border with Mexico.
The letter comes after unauthorized crossings at the southern border increased throughout February and March, reaching a 20-year high in April that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol data shows has leveled off in recent weeks.
Border patrol agents took more than 172,000 people into custody in March and were expected to match that number in April.
“We call on you to take action on the crisis at the southern border immediately,” the letter from the governors begins. “The crisis is too big to ignore and is now spilling over the border states into all of our states.”
At fault was “irresponsible rhetoric” by the Biden administration, the governors wrote in the letter, as well as the reversal of several Trump-era policies, including halting construction on the border wall, eliminating asylum agreements and refusing to enforce immigration laws.
That’s led to more drugs and weapons being smuggled across the border and increased trafficking of men, women and children seeking to get into the U.S., the governors write.
Biden’s administration has continued to use a Trump administration policy enacted during the coronavirus pandemic that allows the U.S. to return adults to Mexico. In the meantime, Biden has urged migrants to stay home and address what his administration says are the reasons causing them to flee Central America.
The governors who signed onto the letter said the policy choices of the president and vice president have led to “inhumane treatment of tens of thousands of children” being held in U.S. custody.
The letter addresses a request to provide housing for migrants, including unaccompanied minors, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to the states in April — a request Ricketts denied.
“Nebraska is declining their request because we are reserving our resources for serving our kids,” Ricketts said in April. “I do not want our kids harmed as the result of President Biden’s bad policies.”
The governors also blasted the Biden administration for attempting to circumvent their decisions by asking private organizations and nonprofits to house migrant children.
According to the Washington Post, children and teenagers who cross the border without parents are typically held for one month while the government searches for family members or other potential sponsors that can take custody.
But the Republicans called those actions “unacceptable and unsustainable.”
“We have neither the resources nor the obligation to solve the federal government’s problem and foot the bill for the consequences of this administration’s misguided actions,” the letter states.
In addition to Ricketts, governors from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming signed onto the letter.
They asked Biden to abandon policies they say made a “self-created crisis that exploits families, undermines public safety, and threatens our national security.”
“We urge you to take action to end the humanitarian crisis and secure our southern border immediately,” the governors wrote.