Rep. Henry Cuellar says President Biden is hurting Democrats ahead of midterm elections while helping cartels by moving forward with his rollback of Title 42.
Cuellar, D-Texas, is one of many Democrats up for reelection criticizing the Biden administration’s decision to end the pandemic-era immigration policy, which made it easier to quickly deport migrants.
He’s joined by the likes of senators Mark Kelly, D-Ariz.; Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.; and Democratic Senate candidates in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin. Several House Democrats are distancing themselves from the administration on this issue.
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“In the past, I was the lonely voice on this. But now we’ve got Democratic senators, Democratic members of Congress from other parts of the country that are not only looking at the P for policy, but they’re also looking at the P for politics,” Cuellar told Fox News Digital Thursday.
“This is not good for Democrats in November. You know, in talking to some of my Republican colleagues, they’re saying, ‘We can’t believe the White House is giving us this narrative. We can’t believe that they’re hurting Democrat candidates for the November election,'” Cuellar added. “And you know this, you look at the polls. The Republican voters are not happy by what’s happening at the border. The Democratic voters are not happy. And if you look at the independent voters, they’re not happy about this decision. So who are we trying to please?”
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But Cuellar warned that the ramifications of Biden’s handling of the border go beyond electoral politics. There are consequences for communities on the border — including his South Texas constituents — and for criminal organizations that will welcome the decision, he said.
“Once the Title 42 is taken away, it provides an incentive to the criminal organizations to say, ‘Hey, now we can promote this, we can market this saying that the border is open,’” Cuellar said. “And they make a lot of money.
“Seniors to landowners to public officials — both at the city and the county — are saying, ‘Look, we want to treat the migrants with respect and dignity, but you just can’t have them just rush in large amounts,'” Cuellar said of the ramifications of a border surge. “They are processed, they’re released or taken over to bus stations or other places, airports. … So you know who carries the burden of taking care of those folks? It’s going to be the local communities, the local not-for-profits.”
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The White House is emphasizing that it made its decision to lift Title 42, which will go into effect May 23, with clear eyes. White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday there will be a deployment of resources to deal with the anticipated surge.
“As we’ve been talking about, DHS has a plan,” she said. “DHS is implementing a comprehensive strategy … to address a potential increase in the number of border encounters.
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“This strategy includes acquiring and deploying resources to address increased volumes. That … involves moving officers, agents, DHS volunteer force personnel to rapidly decompress points along the border and more efficiently process migrants.”
Republicans, meanwhile, are railing against the administration for the decision and promising to fight it in the courts and in Congress.
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A number of red states Thursday filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order that would keep Title 42 in place. And Senate Republicans are demanding a vote on an amendment to keep Title 42 as a condition for allowing a new COVID-19 funding bill to pass.
“Ending Title 42 will be a national security and humanitarian disaster for Americans,” Senate Republican Conference Chair John Barrasso, R-Wyo., told Fox News this week. “It is the height of hypocrisy to end this important public health tool at the very same moment Democrats are seeking billions more for COVID. The Biden administration can’t have it both ways, and Republicans will fight to keep Title 42 safeguards in place.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has accused Republicans of holding the COVID-19 funding bill hostage over the “extraneous issue” of Title 42 and opposes such a vote. But a Senate GOP aide told Fox News it’s possible a vote on a Title 42 amendment could happen at a 60-vote threshold.
A vote at that threshold would make it much less likely the coronavirus funding bill would pass. But it would allow Republicans to force vulnerable Senate Democrats on the record on Title 42, which they could then use to bash Democrats ahead of the midterms, exactly what Cuellar was warning about.
“[If] Republicans now are going to accept the 60-vote threshold … I think they’re doing it because they just want the issue in the campaign,” R Street Institute Senior Fellow for Governance James Wallner said this week.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz and Erin McEwan contributed to this report.