White House seeks to undermine GOP arguments ahead of border security hearing
The White House has attempted to turn the script on border security policy, accusing House Republicans of ‘scheming political stunts’ and undermining border security ahead of a House Oversight Committee hearing on Tuesday which probed the Biden administration’s handling of the US southern border.
In a memo obtained by CNN, White House Counsel’s Office spokesman Ian Sams credited a series of new immigration and border security measures taken by the administration with reducing crossings. on the southern border last month and criticized House Republicans for voting against the omnibus spending bill last year that included billions of dollars for border security funding and accused them of ” advance an agenda that would worsen border security.”
“Clearly House Republicans are more interested in staging political stunts than rolling up their sleeves to work with President Biden and Democrats in Congress on legislation to strengthen border security and fix our system. immigration system that has needed repair for decades,” Sams wrote. in the memo. “But beyond their refusal to work constructively to seek concrete solutions, they and their allies in the states are actually pushing an agenda that would make things worse on the border.”
The memo was distributed Tuesday morning to Capitol Hill Democrats and other allies, just hours before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee is due to hold a hearing with two U.S. Border Patrol chief patrol officers. .
The committee’s chairman, Rep. James Comer, a Republican from Kentucky, accused the Biden administration of unleashing “the worst border crisis in American history.”
“From day one in office, President Biden and his administration rolled back deterrent policies, halted construction of the border wall, removed domestic law enforcement, pushed for amnesty for illegal immigrants – all of which made make it difficult for U.S. Border Patrol agents to secure the border,” Comer said in a statement announcing Tuesday’s hearing, promising to hold the administration accountable.
Southern border crossings have reached record levels under Biden, making the issue a key policy vulnerability that the newly empowered House Republican majority is keen to exploit. But Biden administration officials saw progress last month, with daily encounters by migrants dropping by more than half on the heels of new policies passed by the administration.
During that hearing, Republicans criticized the Biden administration for its handling of the U.S. southern border, claiming the administration was responsible for the rise in fentanyl smuggled into the country and doubling down on their intentions to investigate.
“We will investigate. We will reveal the truth. And we will force accountability,” Republican Rep. Clay Higgins of Louisiana said.
The back and forth between Republicans and Democrats over fentanyl during the more than three-hour hearing underscored the highly political nature of the border, especially when it comes to drug trafficking.
GOP lawmakers have repeatedly cited so-called “getaways” — migrants who evade capture — arguing that the thousands of known “leaks” are evidence of what lawmakers have described as a “frontier” policy. open” despite the fact that the Department of Homeland Security continues to rely on a Trump-era border restriction that allows authorities to turn back migrants.
Democratic lawmakers on the committee, meanwhile, frequently cited data that shows fentanyl primarily enters and is stopped at ports of entry. Republicans pushed back, saying it’s unclear how many people might be carrying drugs into the United States.
“All we’re doing in this hearing is politicizing another issue in this country that doesn’t need to be politicized. We all agree that fentanyl is a problem,” said Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz of Florida.
DHS said it was wrong that migrants seeking asylum between ports of entry bring fentanyl, which is instead often smuggled via vehicles through ports of entry.
The White House is also shining a light on GOP state officials who are suing to end the Biden administration’s immigration policies, including most recently a lawsuit brought by 20 Republican-led states to block expansion. of a program that will allow up to 30,000 migrants from Cuba. , Venezuela, Nicaragua and Haiti to enter the United States each month. Ending these policies “would lead to more illegal border crossings,” the White House said.
“Why aren’t House Republicans standing up to Republican state attorneys general trying to create more illegal border crossings by ending President Biden’s new measures for border enforcement and safe and orderly migration?” Sams asked in the memo.
“House Republicans should join the President in seeking real solutions, not political stunts – and they should answer for their opposition to border security funding and their refusal to stand up to Republican officials who are trying to create more illegal border crossings,” he added.