As encounters at the southern border continue to increase, and midterm elections approach, Democrats seem to be shifting their messaging on border security. The Daily Wire’s Ben Johnson joined Georgia Howe and John Bickley for Thursday’s episode of “Morning Wire” to explain Democrats’ changing strategy on the border.
Johnson highlighted President Joe Biden’s “surprising” mention of border security during his “State of the Union” address on March 1. He also mentioned that “the message has filtered down through the party ranks. The newspaper Roll Call, which covers Capitol Hill, ran a story on Tuesday, titled ‘Democrats Emphasize Border Security as Midterms Loom.’”
Democratic House members like Abigail Spanberger (VA) and Elissa Slotkin (MI) are supporting tighter border security “through technology or by hiring more Border Patrol agents,” Johnson said.
Border encounters in February were up 63% from the same month last year as nearly 165,000 illegal immigrants flooded into the U.S. last month. “Our southern border is still totally uncontrolled,” Johnson said. “The number of encounters at the border in February increased 63% compared to last year, which was the largest in U.S. history.” He went on to explain that the 165,000 number doesn’t even account for migrants who escaped border patrol apprehension. From October through February alone, 220,000 illegal immigrants got away from Border Patrol agents, Johnson explained, citing a February Fox News report.
Johnson pinned the blame on the Biden administration for the drastic increase in border crossings and the decrease in deportations since President Donald Trump left office in January 2021. “All in all, ICE has reported 2.5 million border encounters during the Biden presidency,” he said. “Of course, that includes a record-breaking 1.7 million known illegal entries in 2021. As the number of border crossings hit a record high last fiscal year, deportations fell by 30% — and they look to be even lower this year.”
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) has spoken out about the crisis at the border recently, even as media attention has turned away from it to focus on other issues such as the war in Ukraine and record high inflation.
“Morning Wire” played a clip of Lankford discussing the border crisis with colleagues on the Senate floor. “So, not only on our Southern border are we seeing record numbers of high [sic] coming in, inside the country, it’s record low numbers actually being deported out. This is by design. This is not accidental. The policies that have been put in place on our southern border were put in place to encourage people, quite frankly, to be able to cross the border,” Lankford said, pointing to a graph that detailed border encounter numbers rising under Biden.
— Sen. James Lankford (@SenatorLankford) March 16, 2022
“And things will only get worse when the Biden administration rescinds Title 42,” Johnson told the hosts, referring to a Trump-era rule that allows Border Patrol to expel more migrants from the country due to COVID-19, even if they are seeking asylum.
When asked why an increase in border crossing poses such a risk, Johnson explained, “The administration tacitly admits an uncontrolled border poses a national security threat in a new ICE report released on March 11. It says that just over two-thirds of the people deported this year were classified as ‘threats to either border security or to public safety.’”
That report also states:
- The remainder represented other national security priorities or public safety threats.
- The percentage of convicted criminal removals increased from 56 percent of ICE removals in FY 2020 to 66 percent of ICE removals in FY 2021.
- 2,718 of those removed were known or suspected gang members.
- Another 34 were designated as known or suspected terrorists.
The likelihood of politicians in Washington getting anything done soon to ebb the flow of illegal immigration seems low, however. “Both parties are divided,” Johnson commented. “Even more moderate Democrats emphasize what they call comprehensive immigration reform, which includes amnesty for at least some portion of the population that’s in this country illegally. The party’s more progressive wing, led by AOC, still wants to ‘abolish ICE.’”
Even Republicans, who tend to favor more border security, don’t seem to have a cohesive plan, Johnson told “Morning Wire.” “On the other side, Republicans are also split, with some favoring partial amnesty, and others saying amnesty rewards lawbreaking with U.S. citizenship — so it’s not likely to get resolved before the midterms.”