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U.S. House speaker leads GOP lawmakers to the border to slam Biden on immigration

WASHINGTON — U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson led a delegation of House Republicans on a Wednesday trip to the U.S.-Mexico border to demand hard-line immigration proposals in exchange for passage of President Joe Biden’s emergency global security supplemental request.

“If President Biden wants a supplemental spending bill focused on national security, it better begin by defending America’s national security,” Johnson, of Louisiana, said. “It begins right here on our Southern border.”

The press conference in Eagle Pass, Texas, came as the Senate is trying to strike a bipartisan deal on immigration policy that has been tied to passage of the supplemental package. The White House in 2023 sent Congress an emergency supplemental request of roughly $106 billion for global security for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and U.S. border security.

Separately, quickly approaching funding deadlines of Jan 19 and Feb. 2 could throw Congress into a partial government shutdown, in two stages.

Johnson said that negotiations for government funding are ongoing and that two top priorities for House Republicans are border security and to “reduce nondefense discretionary spending.”

There is still no agreement on a total spending level for the current fiscal year, known as the topline.

Increase in migrants

The number of migrants coming to the U.S. border to claim asylum has continued to rise, with the most recent data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection recording more than 483,000 encounters in total for fiscal year 2024 that began on Oct. 1.

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates criticized Johnson and the Republicans for visiting the border, instead of passing the Biden administration’s emergency supplemental request that included about $14 billion for U.S. border security, before leaving for a three-week recess in December.

“Speaker Johnson is continuing to block President Biden’s proposed funding to hire thousands of new Border Patrol agents, hire more asylum officers and immigration judges, provide local communities hosting migrants additional grant funding, and invest in cutting edge technology that is critical to stopping deadly fentanyl from entering our country,” Bates said.

In the House, Republicans are insisting on immigration policies from legislation passed in that chamber, H.R. 2. Biden has promised to veto it.

It’s also unclear if Johnson would accept a bipartisan agreement from the Senate. He argued that the House “has done its job” in passing H.R. 2.

“H.R. 2 is the necessary ingredient,” Johnson said.

However, Senate Democrats have already stated that H.R. 2 is a non-starter.

GOP immigration policies

That legislation the House passed in May mirrors Trump-era immigration policies, such as resuming hundreds of miles of construction of a border wall, stripping funding from nonprofits that aid migrants, beefing up staffing of Border Patrol agents and restricting the use of parole programs.

Republicans are seeking to curb the Biden administration’s use of parole to allow nationals from Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to work temporarily in the U.S.

The delegation on Wednesday was also led by Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas, whose congressional district is on the border. His office, and Johnson’s office, did not respond to States Newsroom’s request for a list of all the GOP lawmakers in attendance. Johnson said there were 64 members on the trip.

Johnson said that Republicans met with local residents and sheriffs and toured a CBP processing facility.

He criticized the Biden administration for rolling back immigration policies from the Trump administration, such as stopping the construction of the border wall and ending the “remain in Mexico” policy.

The protocols require migrants from Mexico who are seeking asylum to remain in Mexico while their paperwork is processed, but many advocates have documented harm, separation and deaths to those who must comply with the program.

In October, the Biden administration decided to allow for the construction of additional border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, angering Democrats and immigration advocates.

Mayorkas impeachment to be launched

The House Homeland Security Committee on Jan. 10 will also hold a hearing to begin an impeachment case against U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over his handling of immigration at the border.

Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, who chairs the committee, said at the border press conference that his committee has finished its investigations into Mayorkas and that “you’re going to see a lot more coming here very soon.”

“The greatest domestic threat to the national security and the safety of the American people is Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas,” Green said. “He, through his policies, has defied and subverted the laws passed by the United States Congress.”

In a statement to States Newsroom, DHS spokesperson Mia Ehrenberg said that House Republicans were “wasting valuable time and taxpayer dollars pursuing a baseless political exercise that has been rejected by members of both parties and already failed on a bipartisan vote.

“There is no valid basis to impeach Secretary Mayorkas, as senior members of the House majority have attested, and this extreme impeachment push is a harmful distraction from our critical national security priorities,” Ehrenberg said. “Secretary Mayorkas and the Department of Homeland Security will continue working every day to keep Americans safe.”

GOP lawmakers who said they traveled to the border with Johnson, according to social media posts, included Reps. Bryan Steil and Derrick Van Orden of Wisconsin

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originally published at https%3A%2F%2Fwisconsinexaminer.com%2F2024%2F01%2F05%2Fu-s-house-speaker-leads-gop-lawmakers-to-the-border-to-slam-biden-on-immigration%2F by Ariana Figueroa

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