State of the Union 2023: Biden re-ups amnesty call for illegal immigrants, GOP reps yell ‘secure the border’
President Biden on Tuesday used his State of the Union address to double down on calls for Congress to pass a mass amnesty for illegal immigrants, while touting a recent drop in migrant numbers at the southern border from the historic highs seen during his administration – and was met by yells to “secure the border” by some Republicans.
“Let’s also come together on immigration and make it a bipartisan issue once again,” he said.
Biden’s administration has been rocked by a migrant crisis at the southern border now into its third year, with a record 2.3 million migrant encounters and nearly 600,000 “gotaways” in FY 2022. In December there was a record 251,000 migrant encounters alone.
Republicans have battered the administration over the crisis, blaming the administration’s rolling back of Trump-era border security policies and interior enforcement. But the administration has blamed a hemisphere-wide crisis and has hit out at Republicans for not agreeing to funding and reform measures proposed by the administration.
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On Tuesday Biden touted increases in Border Patrol staffing and also increased fentanyl seizures at the border, which officials have said shows that apprehension is getting better.
“We now have a record number of personnel working to secure the border, arresting 8,000 human smugglers and seizing over 23,000 pounds of fentanyl in just the last several months,” he said.
He also noted border measures introduced last month, which extended a humanitarian parole program for Venezuelans to include Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans nd would allow 30,000 in a month if they did not cross illegally, had a sponsor already in the U.S. and met other conditions.
That was accompanied by an expansion of Title 42 expulsions to include those nationalities.
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Sources tell Fox News that there were approximately 150,000 encounters in January, which would mark the lowest number since Feb. 2021. Biden cited additional statistics showing a drop in encounters since the measures were announced.
“We’ve launched a new border plan last month, unlawful migration from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela has come down 97%.”
But Biden repeated his prior appeals for Congress to pass a sweeping immigration reform bill. The bill was unveiled on Biden’s first day in office in 2021. At the core of the bill is an eight-year path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the U.S. before Jan. 1 2021 — as well as immediate green card eligibility for farmworkers, Temporary Protected Status recipients, and some who came to the U.S. as minors, who activists refer to as “Dreamers.”
The bill would also set up refugee processing locations in Central America, increase the number of immigration judges and open up a number of additional avenues for legal immigration — including “recapturing” unused visas from prior years, clearing visa backlogs, and expanding the diversity lottery visa program. The legislation would also provide additional funding for technology at the border and expand anti-smuggling efforts in Central America.
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Republicans balked at the legislation due to the inclusion of an amnesty for illegal immigrants, and it has shown no sign of picking up Republican support — but the administration has continued to push the bill.
Biden reiterated those calls on Tuesday, although he said he would accept a smaller plan — but one that would still include at least a partial amnesty and funding for the border.
“America’s border problems won’t be fixed until Congress acts. If we won’t pass my comprehensive immigration reform, at least pass my plan to provide the equipment and officers to secure the border. And a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those on temporary status, farmworkers, and essential workers,” he said.
In response to the remarks, some Republicans were heard yelling “secure the border.” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy appeared to shush the raucous members.
Later in the address, Biden highlighted the fentanyl crisis that is killing tens of thousands of Americans each year. Officials have said that fentanyl is produced in Mexico using precursors from China and then transported into the U.S. across the land border.
“Fentanyl is killing more than 70,000 Americans a year. Let’s launch a major surge to stop fentanyl production, sale, and trafficking, with more drug detection machines to inspect cargo and stop pills and powder at the border,” Biden said, before calling for cooperation with couriers and increased trafficking penalties.
The mention of fentanyl led to Republicans yelling, “It’s your fault” and renewed calls from some Republicans to “secure the border.”
“You got it,” Biden said.
Fox News’ Bill Melugin contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News