McCarthy leads delegation to southern border

by Jacob Fuller

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and a quartet of newly-elected Republican congresspeople visited the southern border Thursday, a trip during which they pledged to work to solve a crisis they said is the fault of the Biden administration’s poor policy.

McCarthy was joined by Reps. Juan Ciscomani (R-Ariz.), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Ore.), Jen Kiggans (R-Va.), and Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.) in Cochise County, Arizona, for meetings with local officials and an aerial tour of the region.

“Today, 4 freshman House Republicans did something in their first 40 days that took Joe Biden 40 years to do: They visited the southern border,” McCarthy tweeted.

Chavez-DeRemer stressed a Republican commitment to the security of border counties.

“Today I met with mayors, supervisors, and Border Patrol agents,” Chavez-DeRemer tweeted. “My message to them was simple: Don’t give up on your people. And please, don’t give up on us. We’re here to make a difference.”

Later in the day, McCarthy went on the offensive, criticizing President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for failing to act quickly and resolutely enough, downplaying the severity of the crisis, or insisting the border is secure.

“No one believes our border is secure, not the border agents, not America,” McCarthy said during a press conference. “Mayorkas has no integrity to continue to say that.”

Biden has asked for immigration reform in the past. He made the issue part of his recent State of the Union address and called for Republicans and Democrats to “Make it a bipartisan issue once again.”

The president has repeatedly stated that his border policies have resulted in a 97% drop in “unlawful migration” from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela as well as an uptick in the seizure of drugs like fentanyl.

In his Thursday speech, McCarthy categorically rejected Biden’s claims and pointed to the ongoing smuggling operations that have brought untold numbers of human trafficking victims and drugs into the country.

“The Sinaloa Cartel controls who comes across and the amount of drugs that come across,” he said. He added, “This is a fundamental problem. This is a problem created by this administration.”

Ciscomani, like McCarthy and Chavez-DeRemer, pledged to fight to end the crisis, one Ciscomani said now impacts every American state.

“Every state in the country has become a border state with this fentanyl crisis,” Ciscomani said. “As an immigrant myself … we know about the fight of the American dream — and this fentanyl crisis is impacting & literally killing that American dream.”

McCarthy and his colleagues indicated they were willing to work with the Biden administration to find common ground — perhaps the most logical starting point will be increasing equipment and personnel on the border, something Biden, too, supports — but it’s unclear if the parties will work out their differences.

At present, Republicans are ramping up the pressure on Mayorkas and other high-ranking Biden administration officials. Calls for Mayorkas to be impeached have only intensified as hearings about the border have proceeded in the House.

The White House accuses Republicans of working to the detriment of border security.

“Since President Biden took action to implement new border enforcement and immigration measures last month, illegal border crossings are down to their lowest levels in years,” White House spokesman Ian Sams said in a statement. He added, “Why did they oppose record funding secured by President Biden to strengthen border security and catch record levels of fentanyl? Why won’t they support President Biden’s plan to fund border security now? … House Republicans should spend less time on partisan publicity stunts and more time working on solutions.”

What Sams failed to mention in his statement is that the primary reason Republicans have opposed Biden’s immigration bill, one that is stuck in legislative purgatory, is that the border-security funding is but one portion of a bill that also includes a pathway to citizenship for millions of “Dreamers.”

Republicans would almost certainly support — one might argue they’d have no choice but to support — a funding bill that increased manpower and equipment on the border, but it’s highly unlikely conservatives will greenlight a bill in which a bipartisan measure is partnered with a decidedly left-friendly policy Republicans have opposed for more than a decade.