Texas Matters: Can Biden Bring Order To the Border?
On Sunday, President Biden arrived in El Paso for this first visit to the border since becoming president two years ago.
The stop-over visit precedes Biden’s final destination in Mexico City for a North American summit with the leaders of Mexico and Canada. This event is sometimes called the Three Amigos Summit, and it’s expected that trade will be the main topic.
But immigration will also have to be discussed since there have been large increases in the number of migrants at the U.S. border.
This is happening even as the administration's removal of Title 42 is being challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court. Title 42 is a Trump-era policy that allows American authorities to turn away many people seeking asylum in the United States. Biden has tried to end Title 42, but Republican led states like Texas are using the courts to keep it in place and enforced.
All the while Republican leaders have criticized the president for policies that they say are ineffective on border security. They have taken to calling it “the Biden border crisis” despite the fact that the border crisis is not new under this administration. They are signaling that the border crisis is a political opportunity that Republicans can use to fund candidates and win elections. Securing the border was a dominant message for Republicans during the recent midterms.
This increased focus from Biden on the border also comes as the president prepares for a 2024 reelection bid. It has polled as a weakness for Democrats. Most Americans say they think Republicans are better equipped for dealing with the border issue.
Donald Trump won the presidency by animating the GOP base with a hardline stance on immigration and a chant to build the wall. Other Republican rivals for the White House are adopting that playbook.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron Desantis are both trying to make their bones by moving migrants to northern cities.
On Christmas Eve an Abbott border express dropped off more than 100 migrants bused from Texas to Washington D.C. in 18-degree weather. The migrants arrived at Vice President Kamala Harris’ official residence.
Last December, a coalition of Republican congressmembers from Texas unveiled their own border security framework with a press conference on the capitol steps.
Rep. Jodey Arrington represents a west Texas district that includes Lubbock and Abilene and said Texas needs to lead in securing the border.
Representative Chip Roy who represents part of San Antonio and the Hill Country was the principal author of the 13-page document which includes four priority areas:
1) Complete physical border infrastructure
2) Fix border enforcement policies
3) Enforce our laws in the interior
4) Target cartels & criminal organizations
However, it’s extremely unlikely that this plan will become law since the Republicans hold the House in D.C. with only a slim majority. And even the Republicans in Congress have been slow to seat a speaker.
Nevertheless, Biden is countering with his own administrative plan to toughen the border.
Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar, who represents Laredo and San Antonio and who has been critical of Biden’s border efforts, welcomes this new White House initiative. I spoke to Cuellar about that.
For more on Biden’s shift on border enforcement, I spoke with Maria Sacchetti, an immigration reporter at the Washington Post.