Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., returning from a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas, is warning of an “epic crisis” that is still ongoing due to the historic numbers of migrants flooding across the border, and he’s accusing Democrats of attempting a “sheer power grab” to gain electoral influence by tolerating the “carnage and mayhem” at the southern border.

“We’re seeing what’s happening out here, though, and I’ve been to California to our border crossing at San Ysidro,” Hagerty told Fox News Digital in an interview. “I’ve been to Arizona. I’ve been to Texas multiple times now. This is the worst I’ve ever seen it. And it is just an epic crisis.”

Hagerty visited Eagle Pass, which is one of the hardest hit areas of the border and has become the epicenter of the fight between Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Biden administration over border security.


Hagerty spoke with ranchers who had seen the crisis on a daily basis, and retold a story of a rancher who said he woke up one night to find 20 military-age males in his kitchen eating out of the fridge.

“Americans should not have to live like this,” Hagerty said.

Hagerty praised the actions of Abbott, who has built a border wall, seized a key park in Eagle Pass and is battling the administration on multiple fronts in court over the border crisis.

He said the area of Shelby Park has now been cleared out, and he believes that’s why numbers are increasing along other parts of the border, including San Diego.

“They’re going to other places along the border though. So now they’ve lost control of Arizona, according to what I’ve learned. In California, they’ve had a record number of Chinese coming across the border now.”


Hagerty and many other Republican lawmakers have repeatedly blamed the historic migrant crisis – which saw record encounters in FY 23 and in December, where there were over 300,000 encounters – on the policies of the administration.

Hagerty cited the rolling back of Trump-era policies such as border wall construction and the Remain-in-Mexico policy, which conservatives believe largely ended the migrant crisis. 

The administration has said it needs more funding and comprehensive immigration reform from Congress to fix what it says is a historic crisis, and has pointed to what it says are total removals and returns of illegal immigrants since May that have exceeded every full fiscal year since 2015. The administration, along with many Democrats, have slammed Republicans for not agreeing to a bipartisan border bill that they say would have ended the crisis and provided more staffing and funding at the border. Conservatives said the legislation would have normalized an unacceptably high level of illegal immigration.

Hagerty noted how the crisis has a knock-on effect in other states, affecting not only his state of Tennessee but also sanctuary cities like Chicago and New York City. He said such jurisdictions are vocal with their complaints but do not appear to be changing policy.


“What I don’t see them doing is changing their policy. They’re not saying we’re no longer going to be a sanctuary city, we’re no longer going to be a magnet for this. They’re just complaining that they need more ‘resources’ to be able to accommodate all this,” he said.

He said he believes the best and simplest explanation for what he sees as tolerance for the crisis is an attempt to gain power by Democrats, and that they are hoping to gain greater representation in the House of Representatives and Electoral College by redistricting, whereby the migrants coming into blue cities and states could subsequently increase their representation – something some experts have warned about. Hagerty has introduced an amendment to the recent border bill that would count only legal citizens in congressional districts. 

“They are seeing people leave their state. They’re seeing the potential of the next census to lose congressional districts and electoral votes. I think most people in America are shocked to find out that we count the presence of illegal immigrants in determining the allocation of congressional districts and electoral votes,” Hagerty said.

“But if you think about the motives for the crime that’s taking place at our southern border, that is it. That’s what the Democrats are trying to do,” he said. 

“Joe Biden promised he was going to transform America. This is part of that transformation. And it’s a sheer power grab. It’s cynical as hell, and it’s actually the most straightforward explanation of why they would tolerate this carnage and mayhem. It’s in order to retain and gain power.”

Fox News Digital reached out to the White House for comment.