Republicans have spent the bulk of Joe Biden’s first two years in office hammering the president for not visiting the U.S.-Mexico border. They finally got their wish Sunday, when Biden arrived in El Paso, Texas, but many Republicans were still unsatisfied, some accusing him of staging a photo op.
What You Need To Know
- Many Republicans were still unsatisfied with President Joe Biden's visit to the U.S.-Mexico border Sunday, some accusing him of staging a photo op
- They’ve also accused the Biden administration of clearing migrants from the area and giving the president a sanitized view of the issue; Texas' governor said in his letter to Biden that he was touring a “carefully stage-managed version of El Paso"
- Illegal migration has been one of the issues Republican have been most vocal about in criticizing Biden
- On Thursday, Biden announced a new legal pathway for up to 30,000 migrants per month from Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua to temporarily live in the U.S., but also a plan to expel more people at the border
“President Biden is two years too late,” Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., tweeted. “He should have visited the southern border as soon as he caused this crisis. @POTUS, Republicans have been to the border. We’ve seen @CBP agents overwhelmed, going above and beyond their job descriptions. It's time to secure our border.”
Cramer’s message largely echoed a letter Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott handed Biden upon his arrival in El Paso. The letter said Biden’s “visit to our southern border with Mexico today is $20 billion too little and two years too late.” It went on to demand a number of actions from the Biden administration, including supporting the Trump-era Remain in Mexico and Title 42 policies, aggressively prosecuting migrants who enter the country illegally and resuming construction of the border wall.
Abbott and many other Republicans referred to Biden’s visit as nothing more than a photo op. They’ve also accused the Biden administration of clearing migrants from the area and giving the president a sanitized view of the issue.
The National Border Patrol Council, a labor union, tweeted Friday that El Paso was “being cleaned up as if nothing unusual ever happened there. Just in time for Biden's ‘visit to the border.’ We suggest just landing in Des Moines, Iowa and telling him it's El Paso. He'll never know the difference.”
An El Paso resident, Sergio Contreras, told the El Paso Times that a migrant encampment outside the Sacred Heart church, which had previously stretched over three blocks, had been contained to one just before Biden’s trip.
"Dude, I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Contreras said.
Abbott said in his letter that Biden was touring a “carefully stage-managed version of El Paso.”
Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., tweeted, “Biden will only clean up his mess for the cameras!”
Meanwhile, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., told Fox Business she didn’t believe El Paso was the best place for Biden to best grasp the gravity of the migrant situation.
“The president and the vice president should meet me in Eagle Pass and see what is happening there at Del Rio, see what is happening in that valley, see what is happening with these people that are being abused and subjected to drug traffickers, sex traffickers, human traffickers, gangs as they are making this journey,” she said.
Illegal migration has been one of the issues Republican have been most vocal about in criticizing Biden. They blame the president’s policies for more than 2.3 million law enforcement encounters at the southwest border in the 2022 fiscal year.
The Biden administration has insisted the U.S. turns back migrants who don’t claim to have a legal right to be in the country and follows laws passed by Congress regarding asylum seekers. It also has repeatedly blamed Trump administration policies for decimating the legal immigration system.
On Thursday, Biden announced a new legal pathway for up to 30,000 migrants per month from Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua to temporarily live in the U.S., but also a plan to expel more people at the border. The president is in Mexico City on Monday and Tuesday meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Migration is one of the issues expected to be addressed.
Republicans say Biden’s new immigration plan does not go far enough and seemed skeptical his border visit would spur the sort of change they hope to see.
Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., told Fox News on Monday, “I don't know how we complain that the president visited the border. We've been asking, insisting that the president see what goes on here for a long time.”
But, Moran added, “what strikes me is that there was no outrage, no at least stated recognition that we have one of the most significant crisis in our country, right here on this border.”
Moran was part of bipartisan group of senators, led by Arizona independent Kyrsten Sinema and Texas Republican John Cornyn, visiting the border Monday.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., also part of that delegation, tweeted that he wants to find common ground with Republicans on solutions involving migration.
“What I’m not interested in is acting like this is just the Administration’s fault when Congress has refused to act for a generation,” Murphy said.