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House Democrats launch Democrats for Border Security Task Force

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Twenty-five House Democrats on Tuesday launched a “Democrats for Border Security Task Force,” co-chaired by U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas and newly elected U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi of New York.

At a news conference at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday, Cuellar, from the border town of Laredo, said it was “important for Democrats to talk about strong border security and still be respectful of immigrant’s rights and values.” He also took the opportunity to criticize Republican colleagues saying, “for so long the Republicans have had a narrative about the border being a dangerous place. I think it’s important that Democrats also have a narrative about border security. We care about border security. Some of us represent and live at the border. We understand what the border is all about it.”

“We’re calling for action,” Cuellar continued. “We certainly want to see the Senate border deal passed. Republicans have been calling for ‘secure the border, secure the border.’ Finally, there’s a strong border deal done, and they don’t want to bring it up for a vote,” he said, referring to a Senate bill that House Speaker Mike Johnson has said the House will not consider.

Suozzi said, “We’ve got a situation in our country where the people that are standing here as part of this caucus are saying we’re going to do everything we can to come up with a solution. I support the solution that was proposed in the Senate. I’ll support any bipartisan compromise that will actually get this issue addressed, but the Republicans refused to actually move forward because President [Donald] Trump has told them, ‘We don’t want to give Biden a victory. We don’t want to give him a win. We want to campaign on the chaos.’

“Well, that’s appalling. That’s the most irresponsible, most cynical thing you could do in politics. So, this group is going to … work with our colleagues to … figure out how we can get the Senate bipartisan compromise to the floor and voted on because we believe that border security is a real issue and we believe it’s our responsibility as members of the United States House of Representatives to actually solve the problem not just talk about the problem but actually solve the problem.”

Suozzi also reiterated the now debunked claim that the Senate bill limits illegal entry to 5,000 people a day. He said, “when the system is improved with more border agents, more immigration judges, more wall, more detention centers … speeding up the asylum process … asylum cases will be resolved in a matter of weeks. The 5,000 people that apply for asylum, 90% of them will be adjudicated to not be eligible and they will be sent back right after that few weeks period.”

The congressional coalition launched the task force in an election year three years into the greatest border crisis in U.S. history, with the majority of Americans blaming President Joe Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for creating. A majority of Americans polled said they support Trump administration border policies.

Democratic task force members on Tuesday were quick to blame House Republicans for not supporting the Senate border bill reportedly negotiated by Mayorkas and Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma – after the House impeached Mayorkas for implementing polices included in the bill.

None of the Democrats in the task force who were in office last year voted for HR 2, the Secure the Border Act, which expands border security measures. Filed by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Florida, it passed on May 11, 2023, by a vote of 219-213.

After President Joe Biden told Congress to send him a border bill during his state of the union address, U.S. Rep. Wesley Hunt, a Republican from Houston, reiterated what House Republicans have been saying since last May: they passed a border security bill the Senate won’t consider, HR 2. Nearly a year later, House Democrats are saying they want a different solution, the Senate bill.

The Senate bill language contradicts what proponents have claimed, including the 5,000 a day limit, which is effectively eliminated by numerous exemptions. The bill also changes the asylum process, including hiring non-judges to facilitate entry, not expulsion, expands Mayorkas’ authority and codifes into law Mayorkas parole policies for which he was impeached, Texas officials argue.

As a result of Biden and Mayorkas policies, more than 11 million foreign nationals have illegally entered the United States since January 2021, more than the individual populations of 41 states. Texas has borne the brunt of more than 1.9 million in fiscal 2023 alone, the most in recorded history. Every fiscal year, a new record is broken, including the greatest number of criminal noncitizens arrested and the greatest number of known or suspected terrorists apprehended in U.S. history in fiscal 2023.

Johnson, 25 Republican governors led by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and House and Senate Republicans argue Biden’s executive actions created the crisis and could be reversed by executive action. Abbott has also repeatedly cited actions Biden can take immediately to secure the border, including enforcing existing law.

If the Senate were actually serious about border security, House Republicans have argued, they would consider and pass HR 2.

The Senate has also not shown good faith or upheld its constitutional duty, House and some Senate Republicans have argued, because Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, has yet to schedule Mayorkas’ impeachment trial as required by the U.S. Constitution.

Cuellar, who voted against impeaching Mayorkas, has argued the Senate should hold a trial “as soon as possible” even though he is likely to be acquitted.