President Joe Biden faced backlash from conservatives for “box-checking” his much awaited trip to the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday.
Republicans have called on Biden to visit the border amid an increase in migrants, largely from Latin American countries, seeking political asylum from their home countries. Republicans have framed the increase in migration as a blunder by the Biden administration, which has sought to strike a balance between border security and a more humanitarian-based approach to immigration.
Facing mounting scrutiny for not visiting the border two years into his presidency, Biden visited El Paso, Texas, on Sunday to view the growing humanitarian crisis at the border. However, the visit was not enough to quell criticism from Republicans.
Several prominent Republicans dismissed the visit as a mere PR stunt, rather than a commitment to implementing policies that would tighten the border. On Twitter, Texas Representative Chip Roy accused Biden’s visit as simply checking a box.
“The trip by @POTUS to El Paso is nothing but a box-checking exercise combined with propaganda… and will do nothing to stop the flood at our border because the administration does not want to – and so is refusing to,” the GOP lawmaker wrote Sunday.
Republicans have urged Biden to take stricter measures to curb immigration aimed at discouraging migrants from trying to enter the United States, though much migration has been driven by outside, global factors, such as political instability or poverty in migrants’ home countries.
The Biden administration, however, has emphasized following worldwide protocols on guaranteeing asylum seekers their legal rights. However, immigration courts remain backlogged, creating concerns about a humanitarian crisis.
Meanwhile, former Representative Mayra Flores, a Texas Republican, criticized El Paso officials for clearing out migrant camps ahead of the president’s visit.
“El Paso clears downtown of expansive migrant camps ahead of Biden visit,” she tweeted Friday. “Why not show him what our border community and law enforcement officials are dealing with on a daily basis.”
El Paso clears downtown of expansive migrant camps ahead of Biden visit.
Why not show him what our border community and law enforcement officials are dealing with on a daily basis.
— Mayra Flores (@MayraFlores2022) January 6, 2023
Representative Tony Gonzales, a Texas Republican who represents a district containing large swaths along the border, criticized the Biden administration for not letting him accompany the president on the trip.
“On one end, you’re hearing them say they want to work with Republicans. I’m not this crazy, extremist Republican,” Gonzales said during an appearance on CBS News’ Face the Nation. “I’m jumping up and down, pushing against my party when I think it’s right. Looking for ways to solve problems. What I don’t want to see is a terrorist action happen and say, ‘I told you so.’”
Border Visit Follows Biden’s New Immigration Plan
Biden last week announced a new immigration plan aimed at strengthening the border. The plan will allow border officials to increase the use of expedited removal, an expansion of the controversial Title 42—a pandemic-era public health measure that was started during the Trump administration that Biden previously supported repealing.
The new plan also widens the path to U.S. citizenship for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans. Up to 30,000 people may be given citizenship per month, so long as they have a sponsor, pass background checks, and meet work requirements.
The president’s plan will also allocate new resources to the front line to help manage the border, according to the White House.
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.
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