A journalist pressed a top White House adviser Sunday on why President Joe Biden declined to visit the southern border during a recent visit to Arizona.
Margaret Brennan, moderator of CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” challenged Keisha Lance Bottoms, director of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement, to provide an explanation after Biden said earlier this month he was forgoing a trip to the border because “there are more important things going on.” As noted by Fox News, Biden has yet to visit the U.S.-Mexico border during his presidency as illegal crossings hit record highs.
After Bottoms argued, “simply because people don’t see the president at the border, doesn’t mean that he’s not working,” Brennan retorted, “Right. But why doesn’t he go to the border? He was just in Arizona, why wasn’t it worth his time?”
"Why doesn't he go to the [southern] border?" @margbrennan asks senior White House adviser Keisha Lance Bottoms on President Biden.
“I can't speak to why he has or has not gone," she says. "But what the president has done is continue to lean in on this immigration issue." pic.twitter.com/dkirUnxikl
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) December 18, 2022
“Well, you have to remember, Margaret, when the president travels it is not like you or I jumping on an airplane and getting off and going to our destination, everything comes to a halt,” Bottoms said. “So all of these things are in consideration for the president, is that the best use of resources, all of the resources that will be diverted on the ground when the president makes a visit.”
Brennan followed up, asking, “Is that why he didn’t go?”
“I can’t speak to why he has or has not gone — I’m just speaking to the fact that it’s a bit more disruptive for the president of the United States to travel than you or I,” Bottoms said.
“But what the president has done is continue to lean in on this immigration issue,” Bottoms added. “It’s something that he ran on, and what we know over the past two years, every single thing that the president has run on, he’s put time and resources into addressing that. So immigration, we know, is a problem that he did not create. Our issues with immigration are decades-long issues, and he will continue to lean the end through the White House and through Congress to get comprehensive immigration reform done.”
A flashpoint in the immigration debate right now is the fate of Title 42, which allows U.S. border agents to turn away migrants and asylum-seekers on an expedited basis because of a public health emergency — in this case, the COVID pandemic. Republican-led states are trying to keep the Trump-era policy in place as the Biden administration works to wind it down. Amid concerns about a surge in crossings, Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) said on ABC’s “This Week” that ending Title 42 would bring “total chaos” to the southern border. The policy is set to expire on Wednesday.
The Biden administration needs to help of Congress to act on this “global issue,” Bottoms said during the CBS interview.
“If Title 42 goes away, we will then go back to Title 8,” she said, “which allows for a process which is the reason why the administration has asked Congress to fund more than $3 billion to help us provide the resources that will be needed to process these migrants to make sure that people are treated humanely, to make sure that the bordering communities have the resources that they need.”