(The Center Square) - Twenty-four Republican governors said illegal immigration burdens every state and asked President Joe Biden for "honest" and "accurate" information about the situation.
A letter sent Tuesday blamed Biden's policies for a surge in illegal crossings at the southern border.
"States are on the front lines, working around-the-clock responding to the effects of this crisis: shelters are full, food pantries empty, law enforcement strained, and aid workers exhausted," the letter said. "As governors, we call on you to provide honest, accurate, detailed information on where the migrants admitted at the southern border are being relocated in the United States, in addition to comprehensive data on asylum claim timelines and qualification rates, and successful deportations. We ask for this information immediately, but also regularly as the crisis at the southern border continues."
The influx of illegal immigrants places a financial burden on the states, the governors said.
"Analysts estimate the annual net cost of illegal immigration for the United States at the federal, state, and local levels is at least $150.7 billion," the letter said. "States are forced to provide financial, educational, and medical support to migrants entering our country illegally– support that is skyrocketing in cost due to record inflation and the unprecedented influx of migrants into our states."
The governors said more than 5.8 million have crossed the southern border illegally. The problem has also grown at the northern border, where illegal immigration has increased by 850% in some cases, according to the letter. The situation is now a public safety issue as 244 people who crossed the border were on the terror watchlist, they said.
A contact within U.S. Customs and Border Protection has regularly provided The Center Square with unpublished data categorized as "gotaways," or people who enter illegally but don't' file asylum or immigration-related claims. They are most often men of military age, according to the source, granted anonymity for fear of career reprisal. Of the 8.6 million estimated to have entered the U.S. illegally, 1.6 million are gotaways.
"Absent transparency from your administration, though, we cannot know how many terrorists have evaded capture and are now freely moving about the country," the letter said. "Your administration admitted under oath to Congress that cartels prioritize the southern border as a major corridor and exploit it daily for human and narcotics trafficking."
The illegal immigration issue affects their Democratic colleagues, too, the governors said. Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey called illegal immigration a "federal crisis of inaction many years in the making" earlier this month when calling on the Department of Homeland Security to ease the work authorization process.
New York City will house more than 2,000 migrants at a New York City airfield after an agreement was made last week with the Biden administration. Mayor Eric Adams describes the situation as a "financial tsunami" that will destroy the city if it doesn't get more state or federal help.
The letter is signed by the governors of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.