The White House said Thursday that President Joe Biden has put in “the work” on securing the border, despite record illegal immigration for much of his term, and challenged congressional Republicans to do the same.
Republican operatives quickly mocked the comment. A migration surge began shortly after Biden took office and immigration is consistently one of the areas where he has some of his lowest job approval ratings.
“The president has done the work to deal with what we are seeing at the border since day one,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at Thursday’s briefing.
Jean-Pierre added that the administration has done that work “on our own,” because congressional Republicans have not voted for their preferred immigration and government funding legislation.
The contention that Republicans are more interested in “political stunts” than securing the border or addressing immigration has become a common refrain in Jean-Pierre’s daily briefings.
“We know how to work with Republicans; Republicans know how to work with us,” she said on Tuesday. “So why don’t they work with us on this particular issue that is important to — important to Americans across the country? And we’re asking for them to join us on this.”
“One of the first things [Biden] did was put forth a comprehensive immigration reform, which included DACA, which included making sure we protect the border,” the president’s top spokeswoman said last week. “And he was very clear this was a priority for him.”
Federal authorities encountered 2.76 million people attempting to cross the border illegally in the last fiscal year.
On Monday, officials reported encountering 16,000 immigrants in just the last 48 hours.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas received a chilly reception from Border Patrol agents when he visited El Paso, Texas. The incoming House Republican majority has contemplated impeaching him.
Vice President Kamala Harris has been panned for her handling of the migration issue since it was added to her policy portfolio earlier during the administration.
Biden himself came under fire for a dismissive answer about visiting the border during a trip to Arizona.
A Fox News poll earlier this month found that 61% disapproved of Biden’s performance on immigration and the border.
Pointing to migrant deaths, illegal border crossers who have gotten away, the flow of fentanyl into the country, and overwhelmed communities, the Republican National Committee’s Tommy Pigott said, “That is the ‘work’ Biden has done — not alone, but with the help of Democrats in Congress — and it has cost thousands of lives.”
Bipartisan talks on an immigration overhaul stalled this week.
When the Republicans take over the House in January, the prospects of such legislation will grow dimmer, and key committees will hold hearings on Biden and the border.