It’s Monday, September 20th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast here.
1) Border Crisis Worsens
The Topline: Over the weekend, images emerged showing thousands of migrants huddled in squalid conditions under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. Over the weekend, the White House restricted media access to the site.
“It is the federal government’s job to secure our border, but the Biden Administration has failed to do it’s job. So Texas is stepping up and doing what the federal government is supposed to do.”
– Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R)
Over the last week, a growing number of migrants have crossed the Rio Grande river into Texas and formed a makeshift camp under a bridge in the city of Del Rio. A week ago, there were roughly 400 people in that camp, but now that number is around 14,000 — almost half the population of Del Rio itself.
Reports show the majority of those in the camp are Haitians who’ve been living for years in Central and South America and are coming to the U.S. now.
Immigration officials say they’re completely overwhelmed by the surge and have no way to process everyone coming in. 400 customs and border agents were rushed into the city to help stem the flow, and on Sunday, they reportedly sent three flights of detainees back to Haiti’s capital, but there are still well over 10,000 people in the camp.
A Shift: Two years ago, 64% of illegal immigrants caught at the border were coming as part of a family unit, but that number’s been cut nearly in half now, and the majority of those detained are single adults, mainly men. Just 38% of those detained at the border are coming as part of a family unit.
Texas Vs. Biden Administration
On Thursday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) said Customs and Border Protection asked for help securing 6 points of entry in the state that had been overwhelmed by migrants. He immediately responded by mobilizing state law enforcement and national guard units to the border. However, six hours later, Abbott said the Biden administration stepped in and reversed the decision, saying Texas officials weren’t in fact needed.
The governor called the move a “flip flop,” and announced that he’d be keeping his people at the border anyway to serve as a deterrent against more illegal immigration. On Sunday, Texas law enforcement flooded the city of Del Rio where migrants were continuing to cross the border and set up a barrier with their vehicles. For the most part that move seems to have helped stem the flow, as the surge of new migrants in the area has slowed. He also signed into law a measure that would allocate an additional $2 billion to border security.
The Biden Administration and Democrat officials say the surge is happening because of the poor living conditions in the home countries of these migrants. They also claim other factors like climate change have played a role in driving migrants out of Central and Latin America.
Republicans say the poor conditions in those countries are not anything new, but what is new is America’s stance on allowing illegal immigrants to enter the country. They also say it’s not a coincidence that the number of migrants attempting to enter the country illegally surged in the months after President Biden took office.
In August, there were 208,000 migrant encounters at the southern border — a 317% increase over last August. Officials say they haven’t seen this many people at the border in over 20 years. There’s also been a huge surge in the number of migrants allowed to stay.
Last July under President Trump, 92% of those detained at the border were expelled from the country. This July, only 47% were expelled.
2) Booster Shots Could Impact Biden Approval Ratings
The Topline: In a possible blow to the Biden administration, FDA advisors say they do not recommend Covid vaccine booster shots for most people in the U.S., potentially affecting public opinion on the president’s handling of Covid-19.
An influential FDA advisory committee on Friday rejected a plan to recommend booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine for Americans 16 and older.
The advisors did say, however, that they recommend boosters for people 65 and older and other Americans who are at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19.
Remember: This is just a recommendation, and the FDA is not required to follow it, but the FDA often takes the advice of this committee.
The Biden administration previously said it wanted to start offering booster shots to the general public as early as this week if the FDA approved them, which now appears unlikely. Before the advisors gave their opinion, at least two FDA scientists had warned they weren’t sure booster shots are the way to go, saying the data doesn’t clearly show they’re necessary.
This latest setback comes as the administration is facing increased resistance to their vaccine mandates.
Some politicians, as well as employers, are fighting back against President Biden’s vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more employees, and in the past few days, multiple high-profile celebrities have also spoken out against mandates.
Biden’s Approval Rating
On Friday, the same day the FDA made its recommendation against booster shots, Biden was dealing with several negative headlines, including at the border and lingering criticisms about Afghanistan.
According to RealClearPolitics’s average of polls, the president’s job approval ratings are underwater, dropping to under 46%. Towards the beginning of April, Biden’s approval was 10 points higher at 56%. Polling from 538 shows a similar trend, with Biden’s disapproval up to nearly 49%.
Data also shows that Biden’s handling of the pandemic has become less popular, with only 51% approving of how he’s handling it, compared to 62% on July 4th.
3) France Recalls Ambassadors From The U.S.
The Topline: A recent foreign policy agreement between the U.S., U.K., and Australia has left France angry, with the country removing its ambassadors from the United States in a historic move.
The U.S., U.K., and Australia announced an Asia-Pacific security pact — a historic agreement which aims to counter the military threat of China in the region.
The key part of the agreement allows Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time — using technology provided by the U.S. — marking one of Australia’s largest defense partnerships in decades.
China condemned the agreement as “extremely irresponsible,” with the Chinese Communist Party’s foreign ministry spokesman saying it “seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race.”
Meanwhile, China’s embassy in the U.S. accused the U.S., U.K., and Australia of demonstrating a “Cold War mentality.”
The move comes as China is ramping up militarily in the Pacific and beyond.
The deal meant the French government lost out on a deal with Australia to build 12 submarines for $66 billion.
France’s foreign minister called the move a “stab in the back” by Australia and aimed a jab at Biden, criticizing what he called a “brutal and unilateral decision.”
The French canceled a gala in Washington, D.C., which was planned to commemorate the 240th anniversary of the Battle of the Capes, a pivotal French naval victory during the American Revolution.
Then, France announced it would be recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia in protest — the first time this has happened in the history of the alliance between France and the United States.
Reports show France’s President Macron will have a phone call with President Biden sometime in the coming days, but it’s unclear what can be done given that France was effectively the collateral damage of a broader effort to counter the aggression of Communist China.
Since the E.U. is actively seeking a cooperative relationship with China, this move by the U.S., U.K., and Australia made it clear the E.U. isn’t the geopolitical force it once was.
Other Stories We’re Tracking
Pentagon officials admitted on Friday that a drone strike targeting ISIS-K terrorists in Afghanistan likely killed 10 innocent civilians — including 7 children – instead. The head of U.S. Central Command said of the strike: “We now assess it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K. It was a mistake.”
A new Fox News poll on Sunday found a majority of Americans say the country is less united since President Biden took office – 54 % say the country is less united now, while just 37% say the country is more united.
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