Senate Republicans ramping up focus on border crossings

U.S. Border Patrol agents look on after Haitian immigrant families crossed the Rio Grande
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Senate Republicans are ramping up their focus on southern border crossings and President Biden’s handling of the situation ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

Several memos have been circulated to every Senate Republican office by the Senate Republican Conference, which cites figures and posts about U.S. border encounters and puts the blame for these engagements on Biden and his administration for their handling of U.S. border security, according to memos that were obtained by The Hill and first reported by Politico Playbook.

The memos say “President Biden has undermined America’s border security” and the president “created the border crisis,” encouraging Republicans to use those talking points. 

The topic of southern border crossings is slated to become a significant focus for Republican senators ahead of the midterms, Politico Playbook noted. 

The news outlet also noted that a group of Republican senators, led by Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), will be meeting to discuss what they consider to be a lack of funding to tackle the issue and what they consider to be the president’s weakness of the topic.

A spokesperson for Cornyn confirmed to The Hill that the senator would be leading a Senate Republican press conference on the southern border and the possibility of the Biden administration ending Title 42. 

The spokesperson also referred The Hill to previous remarks Cornyn made earlier this month while on “Sunday Morning Futures,” in which he claimed that the Biden administration was “sending the signal that the border is open and anybody who wants to come to Texas or the United States is free to do so.”

A spokesperson for the Senate Republican Conference told The Hill they did not have anything else to add regarding the memos.

The development comes as southern border encounters jumped between January and February from more than 154,000 in January to more than 164,000 in February, according to figures from Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Officials are already anticipating those figures could climb in the coming weeks, especially if Title 42 — a Trump-era policy that allowed migrants to be turned away at the border and barred from seeking asylum — is dropped. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eliminated part of the policy earlier this month.

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday outlined some of the steps they would be taking for an anticipated surge of border encounters.

“There are additional temporary facilities being constructed right now. Some of those will be online in early April. That will bring holding capacity up to additional spots. We’re also doing contracting for additional busing to provide transportation resources and also additional air resources and staffing,” one official said.

–Updated at 2:28 p.m.

Tags 2022 midterm elections Biden border security CDC Joe Biden John Cornyn John Cornyn senate elections southern border Title 42
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