President Joe Biden used his State of the Union address Tuesday to double down on his demands for Congress to pass a massive amnesty for illegal immigrants. He also touted a recent decline in migrant numbers at the southern U.S. border with Mexico after seeing record-breaking highs during his time in office. The president was met with shouts to “secure the border” by some GOP members.
“Let’s also come together on immigration and make it a bipartisan issue once again,” said Biden.
The Biden administration has been shaken by a migrant crisis heading into its third year at the southern border. In just December, the border was inundated with a record 251,000 migrant encounters. The fiscal year 2022 saw 2.3 million migrant encounters and 600,000 “gotaways.”
The GOP has battered the Biden administration over the ongoing crisis, blaming the administration’s rollback of former President Donald Trump’s interior enforcement and border security policies. However, the administration continued to blame a hemisphere-wide crisis and lashed out at Republicans for not agreeing on reform measures and funding proposed by the administration.
Tuesday, the president extolled increases in staffing for the Border Patrol and increased seizures of Fentanyl at the border, which officials claim shows that apprehension is improving.
“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,” said Biden.
The president also noted border measures introduced last month, including extending a humanitarian parole program for Venezuelans to include Nicaraguans, Haitians, and Cubans. The extension would allow 30,000 per month as long as they didn’t cross into the United States illegally and already had a sponsor in the U.S.
Biden repeats previous appeals to pass a sweeping immigration reform bill
In the address, President Biden repeated his earlier requests for Congress to pass a wide-reaching immigration reform bill. The bill was unveiled on the president’s first day in office in 2021.
Republicans are balking at the legislation because of the inclusion of amnesty for illegal immigrants, and there have been no sign of picking up GOP support. However, the administration has continued to pressure to pass the bill.
The president repeated those calls Tuesday but said he would consider a smaller plan that would include funding for the border and at least partial amnesty.
“America’s border problems won’t be fixed until Congress acts. If we won’t pass my comprehensive immigration reform, at least pass to provide the equipment and officers to secure the order. And a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those on temporary status, farm workers, and essential workers,” said Biden.
In response to President Biden’s remarks, some House GOP members were heard yelling, “secure the border.”
The president later highlighted the fentanyl crisis that is killing tens of thousands of Americans every year, saying, “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,” said Biden before calling for cooperation and increased penalties for trafficking.
The mention of Fentanyl in the address led to more calls from some Republicans to “secure the border.”
“You got it,” said Biden.