White House officials say border security and immigration are issues President Biden has taken “very seriously since day one,” and blamed Republican political stunts for slowing down progress.
During Tuesday’s White House press briefing, Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre whether anyone at the White House thinks the southern border is secure.
In response, Jean-Pierre said Biden has been working since “day one” on border security, making immigration a priority, adding that was why he proposed a comprehensive immigration reform plan policy.
“The president is coming forward and trying to come up with solutions,” she said. “But the difference here is that you have Republicans, as you know, who are doing political stunts. And, you know, and we’ve called that out over and over and over again.”
She said Biden is willing to work with Congress, Republicans, Democrats and Independents to work on these issues that matter to the American people.
“But, this is an issue that the president has taken very seriously since day one of his administration,” Jean-Pierre added.
On day one of President Biden’s term, he signed one executive order regarding the southern border, which was to stop construction of a wall.
The White House website said Biden declared “an immediate termination of the national emergency declaration that was used as a pretext to justify some of the funding diversions for the wall.”
The order also put an immediate pause on wall construction projects for a close review of the legality of the funding and contracting methods used.
In another executive order, Biden fortified protections for “Dreamers,” or young immigrants brought to the country as children after former President Donald Trump tried to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
Biden’s memorandum called on Congress to enact legislation providing permanent status and a path to citizenship for people who came to the U.S. as children and lived, worked, and contributed to the country.
But in terms of providing security along the border on day one, none of the president’s executive orders suggest he did so.
During a 2019 Democratic presidential primary debate, Biden said the U.S. is a country that tells people struggling under oppression or poor conditions, “You should come,” as he argued for a more open asylum policy.
He then changed his tune after taking office and having to deal with migrants on the southwestern border – many being kept in poor conditions like those the Democrats considered a scandal under the Trump administration – and telling the migrants to remain in place.
“I can say quite clearly don’t come over,” Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopolous in 2019. “So don’t leave your town or city or community. We’re gonna make sure we have facilities in those cities and towns run by department of — by DHS and also access with HHS, the Health and Human Services, to say you can apply for asylum from where you are right now.”
Biden has not visited the southern border since becoming president. His administration has sued to end the Trump-era Title 42 protocol and has sued states to stop them from constructing barriers on their borders with Mexico. Arizona is removing shipping containers it placed on the border to deter illegal crossings, in response to a Biden administration lawsuit against it.
Doocy rephrased his question on Tuesday to Jean-Pierre, asking if the White House believed the border was secure.
Jean-Pierre said Biden has taken historic actions that no other president was able to do, adding that 23,000 agents were mobilized to the border to manage the influx of immigrants crossing the border illegally, without much support from Republicans.
She never answered the question directly, and instead spoke about what the president has done to address the issue.
“I just said it moments ago. He’s willing to work with Republicans,” she said. “He’s willing to work with Democrats. He’s willing to work with Independents to work on this issue, to move forward with his comprehensive plan that he put forward on day one of his administration.”