COMPASS: The State of America’s Union

March 12th, 2024

Good afternoon from Capitol Hill. It’s still early enough in the week that I’d like whatever cocktail of uppers Joe Biden was on during last week’s State of the Union. 

President Biden’s speech carved new ground for this White House. The Spectator’s Ben Domenech described the speech this way:

It is without question the most divisive, vindictive, and downright vile expression of American partisanship ever given from that honored stage. It marks a legacy-defining moment eradicating forever the idea of Biden as the deal maker, defender of norms and champion of some vague idea of bipartisan unity – this was Biden unhinged, spewing invective at half the country. He lied about them. He called them racists and bigots. He used the most prominent speech he will give this year to promise even more division and vengeance against his foes.

And then there was the subject matter itself. The President decided to open a speech about the state of America’s union by haranguing the American public for more money for Ukraine and the need for Sweden and Finland to join NATO, all while comparing himself to Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln and his political opponents to Hitler, Nazis, and the Confederacy. And that was just in the first six minutes. By minute seven, he finally got to the state of the union – but not crime, the border, or the economy. Nope. Instead, we got a dramatic retelling of the events of January 6th – the “dagger at the throat of American democracy,” as he put it.

The issue that is compelling is illegal immigration, which Americans now rank as their top concern. It took the President roughly 40 minutes to come to the issue of the border in his speech. After offering a few half hearted defenses of his administration he pivoted to blaming the House majority for failing to pass a sub-par border bill which wouldn’t have addressed any of the outstanding issues at the border – and in fact would have made them worse. 

It wasn’t entirely clear if the President was even going to mention the murder of Georgia nursing student Laken Riley before being goaded into it by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. He promptly referred to Laken Riley as “Lincoln Riley” before galling his own party by referring to her murderer as an “illegal.” As a result, the President went on a public apology tour – not for his policies, not for failing to even reach out to her family or re-implementing the withdrawn executive orders which could control the border. No, the President’s cardinal sin was referring to Ibarra as “illegal” instead of “undocumented.”

Let’s be crystal clear about this: a young woman was brutally bludgeoned to death by a man who shouldn’t have even been allowed into the United States, but we are told to believe that the real crime was the President wandering off script into a moment of honesty about the man’s immigration status. The apology is owed for the use of terms about Ibarra, says Biden, and to the millions of illegal immigrants who he claims “built this country.”

For what it’s worth, Ibarra was, actually, quite well documented. He was arrested by Customs and Border Patrol for crossing illegally into the country in 2022, and subsequently released under the Biden administration’s policies for parole, which is basically a form of amnesty given to millions of illegals each year under this administration. He had a job with DoorDash and UberEats, doing food deliveries in Queens, New York. There, he was arrested for endangering his wife’s 5-year old son. He could have been taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but he was instead released by the NYPD. Ibarra later moved to Georgia, where he and his brother were cited for shoplifting – and again let go.

So to say Ibarra is “undocumented” is a misnomer. At every step, federal and city governments documented his illegal presence, and simply failed to enforce the law. And now a young woman is dead – and all President Biden is apologizing for is how he referred to her killer.

Plenty of solutions to the crisis at the border, based on common-sense conservative principles, have been offered. Last year, the House passed H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act, which closed the loopholes in the border law that the White House is currently exploiting. House moderates have even come forward with a bipartisan deal which would codify the Remain in Mexico program, which was a policy that dramatically reduced illegal crossings in the last administration. 

Just last week, Sen. Bill Hagerty offered an amendment in the Senate which barred illegal immigrants from being counted in the census and distorting congressional redistricting, distribution of electoral votes, apportionment of federal funding, and other key issues. Unfortunately the amendment was voted down. You can see the vote breakdown here.

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One More Thing…

Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 50-0 to advance the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act which would require the Chinese-owned social media company TikTok to divest from its Chinese parent company, Byte Dance, or be prohibited from being sold in U.S. app stores. The full House is scheduled to vote on the bill on Wednesday. Trump-appointed FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has weighed in detailing why he thinks the bill is necessary, and why existing or even new privacy laws would not address the preeminent issue, which is TikTok’s continued surveillance and data harvesting of information on American citizens which is then transmitted to the Chinese government.