House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., addressed a harsh letter to President Joe Biden on Thursday, blaming him for the border crisis and pushing him to take a series of executive actions “to stem the record tide of illegal immigration.”
These executive actions, according to Johnson, include ending the policy that allows Customs and Border Protection to release migrants without court dates and “turnback or detain all aliens encountered between ports of entry”; restricting parole, which allows the president to temporarily admit some migrants; and pursuing agreements with third countries, such as Canada, to take those seeking asylum in the United States.
Johnson also pushed Biden to restart border wall building.
“While a bipartisan group of Senators has begun extensive negotiations over the past few weeks to try to find a compromise, they have not yet been able to finalize an agreement,” Johnson said in a statement.
“Statutory reforms designed to restore operational control at our southern border are required, but the crisis at our southern border has worsened to the point where significant action cannot be delayed any longer.”
“It must start now, and it must begin with you,” the speaker stated.
Johnson’s letter comes as recent video footage showed CBP being overrun by migrants attempting to breach the U.S.-Mexico border. Just last week, CBP captured more than 12,000 migrants on the southwest border in a single day, over 11,000 of whom were migrants who crossed the border unlawfully between ports of entry, according to Department of Homeland Security authorities.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and other Biden administration officials have been negotiating a border accord with a trio of senators in order to secure funds for Ukraine and Israel. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) concluded their final in-person meetings in the Capitol on Wednesday, but they claimed they were making progress and that virtual negotiations will continue over the holiday break.
“Obviously, we are involved in these negotiations with the senators; we believe things are moving in the right direction.” “We want to ensure that we reach a bipartisan agreement,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at her daily briefing on Thursday. “The president understands, he understands that we have to fix this immigration system — it’s been broken for decades now.”
Jean-Pierre stated that she had not yet received Johnson’s letter, but noted that the Biden administration had recruited 24,000 Border Patrol agents this year and is in diplomatic talks with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and other leaders to address the influx of migrants.
“The president has done everything that he can, right, on his own,” she went on to say.
In response to Johnson’s letter, White House spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández stated that House Republicans voted against Biden’s request for funding to hire more Border Patrol agents, pushed for a stopgap funding bill that would have cut 800 CBP agents, and failed to take up the president’s supplemental request for border security funding in October.
Jean-Pierre claimed she didn’t know anything about a possible one-on-one meeting between Biden and Johnson in the new year, or why it hadn’t happened yet. Johnson attended a meeting at the White House shortly after being elected speaker in October, and the president paid him a visit. Aides to Biden and Johnson have also been in contact, according to Jean-Pierre.
Johnson stated in his letter, which was copied to Mayorkas and the three congressional leaders, that the border situation “has caused unspeakable human tragedy for migrants and certainly for our own citizens.”
He cited record fentanyl seizures at the border, claiming that “fentanyl poisoning is now the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18-45.” Because criminals have unlawfully entered the United States, the speaker stated, “We are now more vulnerable to a terrorist attack on our homeland than ever.”
Johnson threw the blame completely on the president’s shoulders.
“All of this is the direct result of your administration’s policies,” he went on to say. “You have clearly undermined America’s sovereignty and security by ending the Remain in Mexico policy, reinstating catch-and-release, suspending asylum cooperative agreements with other nations, revoking existing restraints on the abuse of parole, and halting border wall construction.”