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Wyoming delegation calls Biden’s border order a desperate ‘election year stunt’

Even as leading Democrats and other progressive-oriented groups criticize President Joe Biden’s Tuesday immigration decision as too harsh, Wyoming’s Republican congressional delegation remains unimpressed by the president’s border enforcement.

U.S. Senators John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis, and Rep. Harriet Hageman all call Biden’s executive order an election year ploy and an attempt to appear tough on voters who see him as weak on immigration.

“Unfortunately, this executive order looks more like an election stunt than a genuine long-term solution to address our border crisis,” Lummis said.

Barrasso and Hageman agreed, saying Biden is going through the motions to try to appease voters.

“Joe Biden and open-border Democrats are terrified that voters will hold them responsible for the crime, drugs and terrorists pouring into the United States,” Barrasso said in a press release on Tuesday. “With the election just months away, the White House is in a panic. They should be.”

When Biden took office in January 2021, he issued 94 border-related executive orders, many of which reversed policies of former President Donald Trump’s administration.

“He and his bureaucrats broke the border wide open and allowed more than 11 million illegal immigrants into the country,” Hageman said. “He allowed barbaric human trafficking to take place and enough fentanyl to cross the border to kill every human being in America. Now trailing in the polls and with a dismal assessment of this critical issue, he has taken the initiative to ‘take action’ at the border.”

Hageman said the order still allows for nearly 1 million border crossings per year.

Many polls suggest Americans have become more conservative on immigration, with members of both parties showing support for border measures once denounced by Democrats and embraced by Trump, as the number of people entering the country has reached record levels .

What it does

Biden’s executive order will cut off access to asylum for migrants crossing the US-Mexico border illegally. Unless they meet certain exceptions, they will be sent to Mexico or returned to their country of origin.

Senior Biden administration officials told reporters on Tuesday that the order will be rescinded if there are fewer than 1,500 encounters per day on average at U.S. ports of entry. According to Customs and Border Protection, there were 179,725 encounters by Border Patrol agents along the southern border in April, for an average of 5,991 encounters per day.

“Despite the amplified impacts at our border from the Lawful Pathways rule and related measures that have led to record returns and removals, encounter levels exceed our ability to achieve those impacts in a timely manner due to the outdated laws and limited resources we have available,” reads the executive order proclamation.

Lummis said she wished Biden had made his order sooner.

“President Biden has tried to shift blame for months, saying he couldn’t solve the crisis at the border, and it was up to Congress to address this problem,” she said. “What we’re seeing today is what I’ve been saying all along: President Biden could take executive action to stop border crossings if he actually wanted to stop the flow of illegal aliens coming into our country every day.”

Immigration and the elections

Immigration is one of the key concerns for the 2024 elections.

Even in Wyoming, it has become a major issue, with the Legislature awarding $750,000 to the governor’s office to reimburse local law enforcement agencies assisting at the southern border during the most recent legislative session.

The issue is a major weakness for Biden’s re-election chances, and the president is eager to blame Republicans for record high immigration levels.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Biden came out of the gate attacking Republicans. He said he would prefer to resolve border issues through bipartisan action, but blamed former President Donald Trump and other Republican lawmakers for blocking a bipartisan deal twice this year.

“Donald Trump told them to do that,” Biden said. “He didn’t want to solve the problem. You want to use it to attack me. That’s what he wanted to do. It is a cynical, extremely cynical political move.”

Hageman is grateful that the bipartisan deal was blocked.

“It is also worth noting that under the disastrous so-called ‘bipartisan’ border security bill proposed by the Democratic-led Senate, twice the number of asylum seekers would be admitted each day,” she said. “Thank God that terrible legislation died before it ever came to the House of Representatives.”

The executive order was met with both praise and protest from Democratic lawmakers.

Many Democrats don’t like it

There was no audience in the room when Biden delivered his executive order comments on Tuesday, which are likely representative of the divisions within his party over the border plan. However, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham was there, with whom Governor Mark Gordon has worked on several projects for the Western Governors’ Association.

According to CNN, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said he was “disappointed” that Biden’s executive action does not include a path to legalization for immigrants, but also said the president had no choice.

The American Civil Liberties Union told CNN on Tuesday that it will sue the Biden administration over the new executive action. Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said Biden’s asylum ban is very similar to one under former President Donald Trump that was blocked in federal court in 2018.

“We successfully sued President Trump,” Gelernt said. “We think it will remain illegal. And so we will challenge that in court.”

Trump is not impressed either

The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee have also rejected the order.

Former White House senior adviser Stephen Miller made several inflammatory claims during a call with reporters, calling Biden’s new move “pro-child slavery, pro-child trafficking, pro-child sexual servitude.”

Miller was the architect of some of the Trump administration’s most controversial immigration policies, such as a “zero tolerance” policy for illegal border crossings that led to children being separated from their parents.

Trump has sharpened his immigration focus since taking office, describing the migrant crisis as an “invasion” by dangerous criminals, who in some cases “are not people.” Some of his policy proposals include mass arrests, detention and deportation.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at [email protected].

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