Rick Scott Calls for Investigation Into Migrant Vetting Amid Surge at Southern Border

Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida sponsored a bill on Thursday that would require the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to investigate the "vetting and processing" of migrants apprehended by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials at the southwest border.

The bill is co-sponsored by Republican Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rob Portman of Ohio, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Mike Lee of Utah.

The proposal comes amid a surge in immigration that has seen more than 1.6 million migrants encountered by CBP at the southern border since February, following President Joe Biden's January 20 inauguration.

Since August, when CBP reported a high of nearly 213,600 crossings, the number of monthly encounters has dipped each month, with October recording 164,300 encounters.Still, that number is double any total reported between October 2019 and January of this year.

GOP Senators Hold News Conference On Border
Florida Senator Rick Scott sponsored the bill to "ensure the proper vetting and processing of anyone that comes into our country" Here, he speaks at a news conference on the U.S. Southern Border and President Joe Biden’s immigration policies on May 12, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

"My bill, the Upholding the Law at Our Border Act, requires an immediate investigation to ensure the proper vetting and processing of anyone that comes into our country," Scott said in a statement. "There have been nearly 1.7 million apprehensions at our southern border JUST THIS YEAR, with virtually zero immigrant vetting process being enforced."

CBS reported on November 8 that the U.S. government planned to issue court documents to 78,000 migrants who were not processed for deportation after crossing the border without authorization earlier in the year. Through this action, migrants would receive legal documents instructing them to appear before immigration judges.

Citing strained resources during the onset of the surge, border authorities started issuing "notices to report" during the month of March to certain migrant crossers as opposed to "notices to appear." Crossers who received a "notice to appear" must see an immigration judge by a certain date or face deportation. Those who received a "notice to report" must go to a local ICE office within 60 days to continue formal processing.

The "notice to report" does not place them in deportation proceedings and takes roughly 10 minutes to prepare, CBS reported. In contrast, the "notice to appear" takes between 60 and 90 minutes to put together.

Through Scott's investigation bill, the senators hope to provide greater clarity on how the recent migration patterns and the processing of those who crossed may impact national security.

"The influx has overwhelmed our Customs and Border Protection officers and agents," Senator Portman said in a statement. "This bill will require an Inspector General investigation independent of DHS to tell Congress and the American people the facts about what is happening at the border, the impact to our nation's security, and what laws are not being enforced as this border crisis of the administration's own doing continues."