The president blames House Republicans for opposing a border deal, says ‘I’ve done all I can do’
Immigration has surpassed inflation as the nation’s top problem, and now political experts are stressing the urgency for President Joe Biden to promptly tackle the border issue to protect his chances of reelection.
The border crisis has risen to the forefront in recent months, with record numbers of migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Recent polls indicate that President Biden has the lowest approval rating on the immigration issue.
The president last week vowed to use expanded authority to shut down the southern border should Congress pass a bipartisan deal linking immigration security measures to aid for Ukraine and Israel.
“I don’t think [Biden] can take immigration off the table. I think he waited too long for that,” pollster Mark Penn said during an interview with Politico’s Playbook Deep Dive podcast. “But he’s got to neutralize it in some way, because of its intensity.”
A recent Harvard CAPS-Harris poll found that 35 percent of respondents ranked immigration as “the top issue facing the nation,” with inflation coming in second at 32 percent.
“Just as a practical matter, he’s running for reelection. He can’t have his lowest rating on the No. 1 issue,” Mr. Penn said.
There have been over 8.5 million illegal crossings nationwide since President Biden took office, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Karen Hult, a political science professor at Virginia Tech, concurs that the border issue poses a challenge for the Biden campaign, as some voters are closely monitoring the situation.
“This is going to be a real difficulty for President Biden and the Democrats,” Ms. Hult told The Epoch Times.
She believes that reaching an agreement with Congress will take tremendous effort on both sides, including extensive negotiation and compromise.
“This is going to be a significant drag among some voters who are really paying attention to what’s going on at the southern border.”
The president has blamed opposition from House Republicans to a deal that would give him more emergency authority. He says he has exhausted all available options.
“I’ve done all I can do,” President Biden told reporters on Jan. 30 when asked about whether he has fully used his executive authority to address the influx of illegal immigrants into the country. “Just give me the power. I’ve asked from the very day I got into office. Give me the Border Patrol. Give me the people, the judges. Give me the people who can stop this and make it work right.”
Besides the emergency authority, the president is seeking more funding from Congress to secure the border, which includes an additional 1,300 border patrol agents, 375 immigration judges, 1,600 asylum officers, and over 100 inspection machines to help detect and stop fentanyl at the southwest border.
Progressives Oppose Border Shutdowns
After weeks of closed-door negotiations, the White House and a bipartisan group of senators are nearing a deal on the border. President Biden praised the deal in a statement on Jan. 26.
“What’s been negotiated would—if passed into law—be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country,” he said. “It would give me, as President, a new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed. And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law.”
While the president is eager to sign the deal, his statement has caused concern among progressive groups that oppose border closures.
“There are real challenges at the border, and now is the moment that we need our leaders to move forward with effective policy solutions,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a left-leaning nonprofit, said in a statement.
“But let’s be clear: cruelty is not a policy solution—and barring people from seeking protection is both callous and unworkable.”
The proposed deal, which would allow the president to close the border, is expected to be “profoundly controversial among Democratic voters” and may worsen the president’s approval ratings, the article stated.
The White House, on the other hand, has not set a specific timeline for the deal.
“We want this to move as quickly as possible,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Jan. 31. “We’re at a moment where we can come to a bipartisan agreement in the Senate. And so, we think that’s a good thing.”
Deal Faces Bleak Prospects in House
According to recent media reports, House Republicans, backed by President Trump, are already planning to kill a potential border deal reached in the Senate.
President Trump, in several posts on his Truth Social platform, denounced the plan.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) denied allegations on Jan. 30 that he is attempting to kill the bipartisan Senate border deal to benefit President Trump’s campaign, dismissing such claims as “absurd.”
He said last week that the deal between the White House and the Senate would be “dead on arrival” in the House if leaked reports on the deal’s terms are true. The terms of the agreement haven’t been made public yet.
The House speaker has reacted to an alleged leaked text of the deal, which establishes a daily limit of 5,000 illegal immigrants entering the United States. If the average reaches this limit, the processing of all migrants will be shut down for at least two weeks.
“Any border ’shutdown’ authority that ALLOWS even one illegal crossing is a non-starter. Thousands each day is outrageous. The number must be ZERO,” Mr. Johnson wrote on X on Jan. 29.
Since then, Mr. Johnson and the White House have been exchanging harsh words, with both sides pointing fingers at each other.
Similarly, some Republican senators are opposed to the terms of the leaked deal.
When pressed about why the president isn’t using his executive authority to resolve the border issue unilaterally, the White House reiterated that certain actions require congressional approval, without delving into the specifics of those actions.
“Look, you heard from the president … just a moment ago that certainly he feels that there are things that are within his power, but there are also things that are not within his power that he’s looking for congressional authority to do in order to step up border security,” White House deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton told reporters on Jan. 30.
“We think that there’s no reason we can’t come to a very significant deal.”
Ron Klink, a senior policy adviser and former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania, believes that blocking a deal could pose a more significant challenge for Republicans and former President Trump than for President Biden.
“The American people are pretty smart, and they’re going to pick up on this,” he told The Epoch Times.
“The President, the Republicans, and the Democrats in the Senate have addressed [the border issue]. That narrative is behind us now. The question is whether the Republicans in the House will accept the deal,” he said. “That division, I think, is going to play out politically, and you’ll begin to see it in the South Carolina primaries.”