On the same day the U.S. Senate unveiled a massive bipartisan legislative package supporters claim “takes meaningful steps” toward reducing the flow of illegal immigrants, Gov. Chris Sununu was in Eagle Pass, Texas, at the front line of the current border crisis.
Sununu was one of a dozen GOP governors who spent Sunday with Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) observing the chaos at the border up close. Customs and Border Patrol reported more than 302,000 migrant encounters at the border in December alone — the largest single-month total in history.
The Center for Immigration Studies reports the Department of Justice’s own numbers show 159,379 undocumented migrants given court dates and released into the United States “failed to appear as required before immigration judges (IJs) in FY 2023, an all-time record.”
“GOP governors are on the ground to show our support as this crisis affects all 50 states,” Sununu said in a statement. “(President Joe) Biden is refusing to follow the law, but we will stand with Texas on the front lines protecting the safety and welfare of our citizens.”
Sununu was also among 25 Republican governors who signed a statement supporting Abbott’s attempts to secure the border.
Eagle Pass may be 2,200 miles from Concord, but the border security issue is already at the center of the 2024 Granite State election cycle.
For example, U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) — who represents one of the few competitive congressional seats in New England — sent a press release Friday with the headline “Pappas Votes to Help Restore Order at the Border.” Pappas touts his votes for the “Agent Raul Gonzalaz Officer Safety Act,” which “creates a new standard for deporting any noncitizen who admits to evading border patrol while operating a motor vehicle.”
And Pappas broke with a majority of House Democrats to back a bill making “foreign nationals inadmissible to the United States and deportable if they are convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
However, Pappas also has a record of voting against building a border wall, and he opposed a sweeping border security bill passed by the House last year. Critics say he’s not committed to border security; he’s merely hoping to protect himself politically on the issue.
Pappas told radio host Chris Ryan on Friday he will vote against impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, calling it “a colossal waste of time” and insisting that Congress “should be focusing on immigration policy, giving the president and the administration the authority they need to secure the border, to make sure that we’re stemming the flow of illegal immigration into this country.”
Republicans point out Biden has the same “authority” President Donald Trump had, and yet there has been an explosion of illegal crossing at both the northern and southern borders on Biden’s watch.
One problematic part of the bill is the section that, as The New York Times reports, “effectively shuts down the border to new entrants if more than an average of 5,000 migrants per day try to cross over unlawfully in the course of a week, or more than 8,500 attempt to cross in any given day.”
Another provision would grant the president the power to shut down the border to illegal crossings at an average of 4,000 a day. But even that would mean 1.46 million undocumented crossings allowed under the law in a year — essentially the population of New Hampshire.
Are Granite State Democrats going to support a measure like that in an election year?
Shortly after the bill’s text became available to the public Sunday night, U.S. Sen. Jean Shaheen –- who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee — released a statement praising the deal, which would funnel $60 billion to Ukraine and $14 billion to Israel.
“Our immigration system has been broken for a long time, and Congress still needs to take additional action to ensure a better, safer, and more humane process,” Shaheen said.