White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tore into Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill during her Monday news briefing, accusing them of acting in bad faith when attacking the Biden administration for the crisis at the southwest border.
It comes as some Democrats in Congress have begun to break from the party line and join virtually every Republican in opposition to President Joe Biden allowing a pandemic-era expulsion policy, Title 42, to expire on May 23.
During her press briefing, Psaki acknowledged the immigration system was ‘broken’ months after Biden’s first year in office saw at least 1.78 million border encounters between Customs and Border Patrol agents and migrants.
But she said Republicans in Congress were attempting to ‘politicize’ it and exploit the crisis rather than work to find meaningful solutions.
Various polls have consistently shown Americans are mostly dissatisfied with how Biden handles immigration. It has been a pillar of Republicans’ bid to retake the Congressional majority in November’s midterm elections.
‘It has been a longstanding open invitation — any Republican who wants to work with us on immigration reform, you’re invited,’ Psaki told Fox reporter Jacqui Heinrich on Monday.
‘Let’s have a conversation. We have not seen an expression of that interest across the board.’
The Biden official didn’t answer when asked whether the White House was embracing a strategy of waiting for Republicans to ask for a seat at the table rather than extend and invitation to them.
Within the Biden administration, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, there ‘has been a longstanding open invitation — any Republican who wants to work with us on immigration reform, you’re invited’
‘We’d have conversations with Democrats and Republicans all the time, Jackie, but I think it’s clear what we’re seeing from Republicans is an effort to politicize this and not fix what we all recognize is an outdated and broken system,’ Psaki said.
Title 42 was enacted under Donald Trump and allows border agents to turn asylum-seekers away regardless of their status in the name of mitigating COVID-19’s spread.
Immigrant advocacy groups have said the policy is ‘inhumane’ and does little to impact the spread of COVID-19. They’ve been urging Biden to lift it for much of his presidency, reminding him of his campaign promise to roll back Trump’s harsh immigration policies.
Meanwhile Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have blasted the White House for its decision to allow Title 42 to expire on May 23
The White House has on multiple occasions tried to deflect that criticism by deferring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and pointing out it was technically a ‘public health policy’ and not an immigration rule.
But the CDC, responsible for the policy, said that it was ‘no longer necessary to protect the public health’ in its announcement lifting the order on April 1. Prior to then the Biden administration had fought in court to keep it in place.
Democrats’ refusal to consider an amendment keeping Biden from lifting Title 42 sunk an entire $10 billion COVID pandemic aid package after weeks of bipartisan negotiations. Every Republican in the Senate voted to block the legislation.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted the White House moving to lift the policy as an ‘outrageous decision.’
He warned on Fox News Sunday that it ‘will produce a gusher far beyond the open border we already have, produce a gusher of additional people coming in.’
‘Totally inconsistent, by the way, with them asking us for $10 billion for vaccines and therapeutics,’ McConnell added, harkening back to the aid package.
Three GOP-led states — Arizona, Louisiana and Mississippi — are suing to block the White House from letting Title 42 expire.
But senators on both sides of the aisle are attempting to cobble out legislation that would pump the breaks on Biden’s decision to roll it back next month, before they believe the Department of Homeland Security would be ready to handle an expected surge in migrants at the southern border.
In addition to migrants traveling from Central and South America, Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s attack on their homeland have also come to the southwest border hoping to get into the United States (pictured: Refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine await processing of their applications at the Unidad Deportiva Benito Juarez along the border with the United States in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico on on April 9)
The Department of Homeland Security said last month, before the CDC announcement, that it was preparing for an influx of as many as 18,000 migrants per day once the order was lifted (pictured: Vehicles wait to enter the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) San Ysidro Port of Entry along the US-Mexico border in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico on April 9, 2022)
Democratic Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema warned the federal government was not prepared ‘in a way that is both safe for our border communities and respects the humanitarian crisis that is coming,’ according to Axios.
Last last month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told reporters it was bracing for a scenario where as many as 18,000 migrants are encountered at the border per day, once Title 42 was lifted.
Psaki was asked about White House’s plan if that many people try to cross the border each day by Fox’s Peter Doocy at a press briefing late last week.
‘I don’t know where you’re basing your specific numbers on, Peter, but what I would tell you –‘ she began before Doocy cut her off by reading a report on the DHS statement.
Pointing out the language of the projection, Psaki said, ‘Well, “up to,” and we’ll see what happens.’
Since Biden took office in January 2021, CBP has encountered more than 2.2 million migrants and the border – and that number could as much as triple with the end of Title 42 next month
Trump blasted Biden’s decision in a campaign-style Save America rally in Selma, North Carolina over the weekend.
‘With last week’s announcement that the Biden administration will rescind the crucial Title 42 protections I put into place to quickly remove illegal aliens … Biden is willfully opening the floodgates to a tidal wave of illegal immigration the likes of which the world has never seen before,’ the former president said.
On Sunday, Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar became the eleventh Democrat in Congress to break from the White House and sign onto the bill fighting to keep Title 42 in place.
‘We all believe in immigration reform, but we don’t want chaos at the border. We want law and order at the border,’ Cuellar told Fox News.
Bills keeping Title 42 in place have the backing of six Democrats in the House and five in the Senate.
Cuellar said his party was ‘going to be hit hard by the Republicans’ if its members do not ‘stand up and do the right thing.’