Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Texas Democrat who co-chairs Biden’s re-election campaign, had a few choice words for the president and other Democrats who waited to act on immigration and are now backing a Senate border bill that includes billions in funding for additional Customs and Border Protection personnel, asylum officers, and Immigration and Custom Enforcement workers.
Escobar, who backs progressive immigration reform of what she calls “outdated laws and policies,” spoke with Politico and explained why she thinks Biden and others in her party not moving earlier on such reforms made a “strategic mistake.”
“This is the toughest domestic policy issue that we are facing today,” Escobar told the outlet. “Without a doubt, congressional inaction for decades has brought us to a moment where the country is sick and tired of inaction on this issue. At the same time, we are seeing mass displacement of people all over the globe. And Congress has used this as a political football for a long time. I can tell you even in El Paso, a community of such goodwill, such a loving community where people open up their wallets and their pantries to provide hospitality for migrants every single day, there’s exhaustion and there is this sense that the issue has gotten so bad that something has to happen.”
Escobar continued by saying Biden has attempted various immigration strategies while in office and has faced criticism from “all sides.” She further said individuals in Congress have placed the issue on Biden.
“So, Congress has been very effective at deflecting and saying that it’s not our responsibility when it is,” she told Politico. “And I’ll be very candid, I wish the Democratic Party, the president included, had leaned in on this issue early on. It’s what I advocated for when we were in the majority. We should lean in and we should explain to the American people how difficult this is and how multifaceted the solution has to be. There’s not a quick fix. There’s not an easy band-aid. It will take years of public policy and appropriations to get to a point where things are more manageable, but nobody wanted to talk about it. And I think that was a strategic mistake on the part of my party and that includes everybody.”
The long-awaited $118 billion supplemental spending deal, which includes funding for Ukraine, Israel and measures to stem the historic crisis at the southern border, was released late Sunday by Senate lawmakers ahead of an expected vote in the upper chamber later this week.
The package has the backing of Senate leaders and the Biden administration, who have said the funding is for the two U.S. allies ($60 billion for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel) coupled with a bipartisan agreement that will provide approximately $20 billion to control illegal immigration at the southern border, where numbers hit a record 2.4 million encounters in fiscal year 2023.
“The bipartisan agreement in the Senate is tough, fair, and takes meaningful steps to address the challenges our country faces after decades of Congressional inaction,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.
The deal, however, also faces significant opposition from Republicans and other conservatives, who say it does not do enough to tackle the border crisis and stop releases into the interior. Some liberal Democrats have also objected to the bill, arguing that it will hurt migrants seeking asylum.
The package includes the likes of border funding and staffing, asylum rules, work permits for migrants, increased legal immigration pathways and “Border Emergency Authority.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.