Johnson Leads Group of GOP Lawmakers to Texas Border as Migrant Encounters Set Record

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Dozens of Republican lawmakers visited the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas Wednesday to get a first-hand look at the migrant crisis. They’re set for a showdown to secure more funding for the region that both sides of the aisle can accept.

The White House says negotiations on border funding are “Moving in the right direction” as both sides continue to work towards a deal.

Republicans have said new aid for Ukraine must be tied to increased U.S. border security.

The GOP is walking their talk down south. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and 60 other Republican lawmakers visited the border in Texas as the GOP focuses on making the border a key issue this election year.

Standing near the U.S. border where thousands of migrants continue to cross, Johnson demanded the White House use more executive orders to stem the record surge of illegal crossings.

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slider img 2In Eagle Pass, Texas, House Republicans expressed concern after the southern border saw a record rate of illegal migrant encounters last month.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed to ABC News that officials encountered more than 300,000 migrants in December, far surpassing the previous record of nearly 270,000 in September 2023.

In a statement, a spokesperson for CBP said: “CBP has taken significant steps to surge personnel and resources to impacted sectors and address the challenges we are experiencing across the southwest border. Encounter numbers continue to fluctuate, as smugglers and bad actors continue to spread falsehoods and show complete disregard for the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable migrants. We remain vigilant and stand ready to ensure the safety of our personnel, migrants, and local communities, and the security of our southwest border.”

He confirmed migrants attempting to enter without authorization are subject to expulsion under Title 8.

In a contentious move to deal with the overflow, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is flying and bussing hundreds of migrants to cities including New York, Washington, D.C. Denver, and Chicago, creating a crisis for many mayors.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams issued an executive order that chartered buses bringing migrants into the city must provide 32 hours’ notice. He called it a humanitarian crisis.

“And that’s why we’re in court now to say that the right to shelter should not have an impact on this migrant crisis,” Adams said. 

Republicans blame the migrant surge on the policies of the Biden administration.

President Joe Biden defended his administration, saying the nation is dealing with a hemisphere-wide challenge and that his administration needs Congress to act.

“They ought to give me the money. I need to protect the border,” Biden said when asked about congressional funding. 

In Chicago, Joaquin Sanchez, a descendant of Mexican immigrants, wants lawmakers to consider compassion.

“The prioritization of family and survival and breaking out of poverty,” Sanchez said. “I think that’s common with my family and with immigrants today.”

It’s a stance one pastor says is rooted in Christian ideals.

“It’s wrong for people to come in here illegally. But our rhetoric must line up in a way that speaks to the blessing of a particular emerging demographic that continues to serve possibly as the future of the conservative movement in America,” said Pastor Samuel Rodriguez, president of The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Conservatives are pressing for the provisions they passed last year that would restart the construction of a wall along the southern border and make it more difficult for migrants to claim asylum in the U.S.

A bipartisan group of senators is trying to make progress before Congress returns to Washington next week.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is asking the Supreme Court to allow border patrol agents to cut razor wire that Abbott ordered installed on the U.S.-Mexico border, while a lawsuit over the placement of the wire continues.

The Justice Department filed an emergency appeal Tuesday, saying the wire impedes border patrol agents from reaching migrants as they cross the river and is a hazard for both parties.

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