GOP visits border, criticizes Biden policies

GOP visits border, criticizes Biden policies
© Getty Images

Top House Republicans on Monday called on President BidenJoe BidenTrump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race GOP lawmakers request Cuba meeting with Biden For families, sending money home to Cuba shouldn't be a political football MORE to visit the U.S.-Mexico border amid what both parties are calling a “humanitarian crisis” caused by the surge of migrants and unaccompanied children attempting to enter the country.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyTrump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios GOP lawmakers request Cuba meeting with Biden House rejects GOP effort to seat McCarthy's picks for Jan. 6 panel MORE (R-Calif.) — who led a delegation of 12 GOP members on a tour of the border in El Paso, Texas — blamed the influx in border crossings and apprehensions on the Biden administration’s immigration policies and decision to stop the construction of former President TrumpDonald TrumpCuban embassy in Paris attacked by gasoline bombs Trump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios Trump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race MORE’s border wall. 

And as Biden and other administration officials fan out across the country to sell their $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, McCarthy challenged the president to make sure he includes a stop along the southern border.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I know the president is going to travel this week. This is where you should bring Air Force One. This is where he should look the people in the eye. This is where he should talk to the border agents, and let them know that this is beyond the crisis,” McCarthy told reporters at a press conference following the tour. 

“He can continue to deny it, but the only way to solve it is to first admit what he has done, and if he will not reverse action it's going to take correct congressional action to do it. And that's why we're here. We want to find solutions. Before we even came here, I sent a letter to the president to work together to solve this problem,” McCarthy said.

Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoGOP brawls over Trump on eve of first Jan. 6 hearing Senators introduce bipartisan bill to secure critical groups against hackers House erupts in anger over Jan. 6 and Trump's role MORE (R-N.Y.) — the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee and a former prosecutor in the region — argued Biden’s policies have opened the door for potential terrorists to exploit abuses. He said Border Patrol agents had told the Republicans that they have seen individuals from Yemen, Iran, Sri Lanka and Haiti attempt to enter the country. 

“Individuals that they have on the watch list for terrorism are now starting to exploit the southern border,” he said. "We need to wake up, need to understand — listen President Biden, you're an OK guy. Why don't you just admit you made a mistake with this policy and go back to the way it was and keep America safe for all of us and use that money that we're wasting down here on American citizens.”

Republicans have pointed to Biden’s deployment of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist in finding shelter for the growing number of unaccompanied minors as evidence that the administration’s decision to roll back Trump’s executive orders on immigration was a mistake.

ADVERTISEMENT

First-term Rep. Maria E. Salazar (R-Fla.) called on Hispanic Americans to push their representatives to do more to combat the growing problem at the border, arguing “it's our girls from Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, the ones who are being raped. It's our girls, the children who are being trafficked.”

“We need to stop this. We need to stop being pawns of the politicians in Washington and pawns of the traffickers who are trafficking with our children, our families and our women,” she said at the press conference.  

“It's a problem that belongs to all Americans, including the Hispanic Americans in this country,” she added. 

The White House on Monday said the GOP lawmakers visiting the border would see evidence of the previous administration’s failures.

“On their visit Republican Members will see first-hand what so many Americans know — the cruelty, chaos and confusion pushed by the prior administration completely decimated our immigration system,” a White House spokesman said in a statement. 

It then said it hoped Republicans would be willing to work on a comprehensive immigration reform measure.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse rejects GOP effort to seat McCarthy's picks for Jan. 6 panel GOP brawls over Trump on eve of first Jan. 6 hearing Five things to watch as Jan. 6 panel begins its work MORE (D-Calif.) echoed the White House arguments in weekend remarks.

“I do know that the Biden administration is trying to fix the broken system that was left to them by the Trump administration,” Pelosi said in the Capitol.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasHillicon Valley: Tech groups urge Congress to 'dig deeper' on Facebook role in Capitol riot | Kaseya denies paying hackers for decryption key | Tech coalition expands tracking of extremist content Hillicon Valley: Amazon employees petition company to investigate discrimination allegations | ACLU calls for investigation into Alaska official over tweets | Electric cars to outsell combustion vehicles by 2036 Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks MORE, domestic policy adviser Susan RiceSusan RiceDavid Sirota calls Susan Rice stock divestment 'corruption deduction' White House memo urges cities to use coronavirus funds to combat crime Voting rights advocates eager for Biden to use bully pulpit MORE and other Biden officials visited facilities on the U.S.-Mexico border on March 7 to monitor and report back about the spike in unaccompanied minors crossing the border. 

Republicans including Katko, a Trump critic, blasted the notion that the surge falls on the prevision administration. 

“One of the perhaps most reprehensible things I've heard in a long time is Nancy Pelosi and some of the administration saying that this is caused by pent up demand from the previous administration,” he said.  

“There's always a pent up demand for crime, crossing the border illegally is illegal. And so we shouldn't accommodate that pent up demand and they seem to be signaling that we should."