President Joe Biden’s new border policy is a major reversal after years of claims that “the border is secure” and denials that the president had the power to act unilaterally. Now that he’s acknowledged he has the executive authority to stop undocumented migrants at the border, his actions have New Hampshire Democrats cheering, but they’ve left most Republicans unimpressed.

“When House Republicans blocked bipartisan border legislation, I called on the (Biden) Administration to take this necessary action,” U.S. Rep Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) posted on social media. “These provisions will help, but they should have come sooner. We must do more. This cannot be the end of the conversation.”

The “necessary action” taken by Biden on Tuesday temporarily halts asylum claims from migrants only when the seven-day average of daily border crossings tops 2,500. Critics point out, however, that the order does nothing to halt the 1,500 illegal migrants being released daily into the country via CBP One Mobile App, the 30,000 illegal migrants being flown in directly from foreign countries including Haiti and Venezuela, and unaccompanied minors.

Earlier this year, House Republicans released a document outlining more than 60 instances in which they say the Biden administration intentionally encouraged illegal immigration.

Pappas’ fellow Granite State Democrat, outgoing U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, claimed the order bars migrants who cross the border “unlawfully” from “receiving asylum,” but said it is “not a permanent solution.”

“There’s no question that our immigration system is broken,” Kuster said in a statement, calling it an issue that has “spanned both Democratic and Republican administrations.”

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) in her response picked up on the talking point emphasized by Pappas and the White House blaming Republicans for rejecting an earlier proposal tying $118 billion in aid for Ukraine and Israel with an update in immigration policy.

Hassan claimed Biden’s order “recognizes the need to help manage the flow” of migrants but again called for the passage of the rejected “border security package” and blamed the crisis on “Senate Republicans (working) at Donald Trump’s behest.”

U.S. Sen Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) similarly criticized Republicans in a statement posted to social media for “turn[ing] their backs on a comprehensive border security bill.”

“His action is aimed at increasing America’s security at the border, but it’s time Republicans drop the political games and work with Democrats to pass a border bill that will stop the flow of illicit drugs and help resolve the border crisis in a sustainable, safe and humane way,” Shaheen added.

Yet while Shaheen and Hassan are not up for reelection, and Kuster has opted not to run for another term, Pappas remains the sole incumbent out of New Hampshire’s all-Democrat Congressional delegation who will have to face voters in November.

His Republican challengers — which include entrepreneur and U.S. Army veteran Chris Bright, former Executive Councilor Russell Prescott, and former U.S. Army reservist Hollie Noveletsky — were quick to condemn Pappas and Biden.

Noveletsky put the border crisis squarely on Biden and added that Democrats like Pappas were responsible for “enabl(ing) him.”

“Now, with his approval rating at all-time lows and facing a tough uphill climb for reelection, Biden suddenly wants to look tough on the border,” Noveletsky added in her statement. “This action today is nothing more than political pandering that is desperately attempting to save Biden’s floundering reelection bid.”

Prescott, in a statement to NHJournal, said the crisis calls for “new leadership in NH-01” that “will focus on defending our state and protecting the rule of law.”

“Politics-playing Pappas is once again pretending to care about the border crisis during an election year when it’s politically expedient,” Prescott added.

Chris Bright said, “For years, Biden, Mayorkas, Pappas and the open border crowd insisted there is no border crisis and that there was nothing Biden could do about it by himself. So, today’s too little, too late executive order is nothing more than election-year pandering. If Biden wants to truly address the border, he can just as easily re-implement all the Trump-era executive orders that he never should have rescinded in the first place.”

Meanwhile, Democrats looking to succeed Kuster include former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, state Sen. Becky Whitley (D-Hopkinton), and Maggie Goodlander, a former U.S. Department of Justice official who served under Biden.

None of the Democrats would comment on Biden’s new immigration policy.

NH-02 Republican candidates Vikram Mansharamani and Lily Tang Williams have both been critical of Biden’s handling of the southern border.

“This is just election-year politics,” said Mansharamani. “The Democrats have proven that they are not serious about securing the border. The correct number of acceptable illegal immigrants per day is zero.”

In announcing his executive order, Biden said “the border is not a political issue to be weaponized” before proceeding to claim he was “moving past Republican obstruction” to “do what I can on my own.”

“Republicans left me with no choice,” Biden added.


EDITORS NOTE: A previous version of this story misattributed a quote to Chris Bright. The error has been corrected and the quote above is accurate. NHJournal regrets the error.