Good afternoon from Capitol Hill.
The House is in session for the next two weeks and the Senate is in session for this week before they are out for a week of recess. This week is Police Week in the House of Representatives, so the House will take up a number of law enforcement aligned bills. The Senate will at least consider the nomination of a Judge to be the United States Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia.
On May 8, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a Statement of Administration Policy outlining the Administrations reasons for opposing H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act of 2023 in part saying, “The Biden-Harris Administration’s approach to border management is grounded in this strategy – expanding legal pathways while increasing consequences for illegal pathways, which helps maintain safe, orderly, and human border processing.” Ultimately, OMB said, “If the President were presented with H.R. 2, he would veto it.” This official administration action occurred a couple days before literally tens of thousands of migrants were queuing up on the border, waiting for the expiration of Title 42 so they could come into the country and not potentially face expulsion.
On May 9, Bill Melugin, remarked that “Per CBP sources, Border Patrol apprehended more than 10,300 migrants who crossed illegally yesterday, and Monday also broke the 10,000 threshold. I’m told these are the highest single day totals ever recorded – and it’s expected to go even higher after T42 drops tomorrow.”
On May 10, Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, and Attorney General Merrick Garland transmitted the “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways” final rule to the Federal Register. According to George Fishman over at Center for Immigration Studies, “In attempting to justify this farcically ineffectual rule regarding eligibility for asylum, Mayorkas and Garland warn that simply adhering to Mayorkas’s own earlier, and highly touted, DHS Plan for Southwest Border Security and Preparedness would lead to disaster.” Mayorkas then went on to blame Congress for not securing the border at a DHS press conference, despite undermining his own plan that day: “I cannot overemphasize that our current situation is the outcome of Congress leaving a broken, outdated immigration system in place for over two decades, despite unanimous agreement that we desperately need legislative reform.” There was no mention of the previous Administration having the same legislative constraints, yet seeing some of the lowest encounter numbers in recent memory as a result of aggressive regulatory and enforcement actions.
On May 11, the day that Tile 42 expired, the White House held a press conference where even Secretary Mayorkas, could not deny what was going on. “We expected to see large numbers of encounters initially. We are already seeing high numbers of encounters in certain sectors” he said. Mayorkas also continued to blame Congress by saying, “And I would say the President — President Biden presented Congress with a legislative package on day one of this administration, now about 28 months ago, and we are hopeful that sensible and needed legislative reform will be passed by Congress, and we do not concur with the bill that was presented today.”
Right around the same time on May 11 as the White House press conference, the House of Representatives was taking up H.R. 2. The House passed the legislation 219-213. This bill is widely considered by immigration experts to be the strongest border security package the House has passed.
The goal of this legislation, according to experts, is to legislatively fix the problem on the southern border. During this Administration there have been more than 5 million encounters at the Southwest border, over 1.4 million known “gotaways” since February 2021, 193 aliens on the terrorist watchlist encountered along the Southwest border trying to enter the country between ports of entry from FY 2021 to FY 2023, over 61,000 criminal aliens arrested by CBP attempting to cross the U.S. borders since the beginning of FY 2021, and just last week and Afghan National on FBI Terror List Nabbed Trying to Cross Border with Migrants. So while the Administration continues to contradict itself and allow chaos to reign on the southern border, the House has passed a bill to fix many of the issues that would lead to a secured border.
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