White House hits GOP for ‘partisan publicity stunts’ ahead of border visits

The White House on Wednesday dismissed a planned trip to the border for Republican lawmakers as a publicity stunt and argued the GOP is uninterested in addressing the issue of immigration.

“House Republicans should spend less time on partisan publicity stunts and more time working on solutions,” Ian Sams, a White House spokesperson, said in a statement. “Solutions are what President Biden is focused on, and his is plan working. House Republicans would be wise to join him to work together to strengthen our immigration system and fund border security.”

Sams’s statement was released as the House Oversight and Accountability Committee was set to hold a hearing with two chief patrol agents of the US Border Patrol.

It also came a day before Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will lead a congressional delegation to the southern border and ahead of a GOP-led hearing at the border.

Republican Reps. Juan Ciscomani (Ariz.), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (Ore.), Jen Kiggans (Va.) and Derrick Van Orden (Wis.) — all first-term lawmakers — will accompany McCarthy on the trip. The group will be traveling within the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector and will be briefed and receive an aerial tour from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, according to McCarthy.

While Republicans have repeatedly hammered the Biden administration for the influx of migrants at the southern border, including record-setting numbers of arrests last year, Sams argued that crossings are down significantly since the president announced a new set of regulations in the early days of the year.

The administration on Jan. 5 announced it would deny individuals from Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Haiti the opportunity to apply for asylum if they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization.

The program resulted in a 97 percent drop in irregular migration from the four countries in the three weeks since it was implemented, according to Customs and Border Protection data.

Sams further accused Republicans of opposing funding requests from Biden to strengthen border security, and he knocked GOP attorneys general at the state level for suing to end certain Biden border policies that the administration credits with lowering the number of crossings.

House Republicans are divided over how to approach the issue of immigration, with lawmakers split over whether to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and about how to proceed with planned legislation focused on the border.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) in December said the Border Safety and Security Act would pass in the first two weeks of the new Congress, but it has not yet come to the floor because of disagreements within the party.

The White House, meanwhile, has argued it is on Congress to pass meaningful immigration reform, which Biden proposed on his first day in office two years ago. During last week’s State of the Union, Biden again called on Congress to act on the issue.

Update Feb. 16 at 3:43 p.m.

Tags Alejandro Mayorkas Ian Sams Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy

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