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President Biden, in a visit to the southern border on Thursday, renewed his calls for Republicans to back a controversial, but bipartisan, Senate border agreement — as illegal immigration continues to be a major political headache for the administration and he seeks to shift blame to Republicans for the crisis.

“It’s real simple, it’s time to act, it is long past time to act,” the president said. “It’s time for us to move on this, we can’t wait any longer.”

Biden spoke in Brownsville, Texas, after meeting with Border Patrol, law enforcement and local leaders. He began by addressing recent wildfires in Texas and Oklahoma, and linking them to climate change.

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The visit, which coincided with former President Donald Trump’s visit to the border in Eagle Pass, Texas, comes as illegal immigration has become a major 2024 election issue and remains a thorny issue for the administration. Polls show that more than half of Americans think large numbers of illegal immigrants entering the U.S. represents a critical threat to the country.

The crisis, now into its third year, has smashed multiple records with more than 2.4 million encounters in FY 23 and over 300,000 in December alone — breaking the record for monthly encounters.

President Biden and his administration have sought to shift the blame for the crisis onto the shoulders of Republicans. The administration says that it is working with a broken system that needs significantly more funding and comprehensive immigration reform. It introduced a bill on Biden’s first day in office that included a mass amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S., which was immediately rejected by Republicans.

Republicans in the House introduced and passed legislation of their own that would fund more Border Patrol agents, resume wall construction, restart the Remain-in-Mexico policy and severely limit the ability of migrants to claim asylum.

After the White House made a supplemental funding request, including $20 billion for border funding in late 2023, Senate negotiators hashed out a deal that included additional staffing at the border and in asylum offices, an increased $1.4 billion in funding to cities and NGOs receiving migrants, took action to tackle fentanyl smuggling and would limit asylum claims. It would also increase detention beds to 50,000 and provide additional immigration judges.

DUELING BIDEN, TRUMP VISITS TO BESIEGED BORDER COME AMID FRESH SLEW OF VIOLENT CRIMES BY ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

“Folks, the bipartisan border security bill is a win for the American people and a win for the people of Texas, and it’s fair for those who legitimately have a right to come here,” Biden said.

“The U.S. Senate need to reconsider this bill and those senators who oppose it need to set politics aside and pass it on the merits, not on whether it’s going to benefit one party or another party,” he said, also calling for Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., to put it on the floor in the House.

However, it has failed to gain enough support in the Senate, as conservative lawmakers have warned that a limiting mechanism that only comes into place after an average of 5,000 encounters a day would normalize already-high levels of illegal immigration.

Biden said, however, that it was “the toughest set of border security reforms we’ve ever seen.”

Migrants on the Mexico side of the border

Migrants try to reach the U.S. border to seek humanitarian asylum in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Jan. 17.  (Christian Torres/Anadolu via Getty Images)

He also appealed to his predecessor to back the bill.

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“I understand my predecessor is in Eagle Pass today — here’s what I would say to Mr. Trump,” Biden said. “Join me, or I’ll join you in telling the Congress to pass this bipartisan border security bill. We can do it together.”

Republicans in the House, who have recently impeached DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, say Biden doesn’t need additional congressional action to secure the border and can do so with the tools his administration already has.

WHITE HOUSE CALLS FOR SANCTUARY CITIES TO COOPERATE WITH ICE AMID FUROR OVER ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT CRIMES

Speaking to Fox News Digital ahead of the speech, GOP Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., dismissed Biden’s trip as a photo op, and called it “another sign of Biden’s incompetence.”

“It’s just going to be another cleaned up photo op. It’s not going to be any actual confrontation of the crisis that this guy created. Time and time again, Joe Biden proves that he cares more about minimizing the political implications of this issue than actually addressing it. So I don’t expect much is going to come out of it, except the American people are going to realize once again that Joe Biden doesn’t really mean business when it comes to the border,” he said.

Emmer said that to solve the crisis, Biden needs to tackle the five issues that were in the House GOP bill: end catch and release, reform parole authority, finish the wall, reform asylum and restore Remain-in-Mexico, which kept migrants in Mexico for the duration of their hearings.

Emmer, like others in the House GOP caucus, was dismissive of the contents of the Senate bill that Biden is promoting.

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“You’re going to make it law now that he can let in up to 5,000 a day before it becomes a shutdown situation? Outrageous. And the fact that anybody even reports it as an option, I think is less than responsible,” he said. “You’ve got to do something in the five areas that the House has already addressed, but the bare minimum is to restore Remain in Mexico.”

In the Senate, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., called the speech a “half-hearted attempt to pay lip service to the crisis his policies have caused.”

“President Biden can fix this crisis, and I hope his visit is the wakeup call he needs to use the authority he already has to build the border wall, reinstate Title 42, and end catch-and-release, so that we can finally secure our border, uphold our national security, and keep Americans safe,” he said.





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