Opinion: GOP frustration grows over immigration surge

Almost every other week it seems there is another group of Republicans in Congress who trek to the southern border with Mexico.

The visits have become routine. GOP lawmakers meet with Border Patrol agents and immigration officials. They get a glimpse of migrants trying to get across the border and issue a call for action by President Biden.

And nothing changes.

“What’s shocking to me is how normal the chaos has become,” said U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point.

During a visit to the Texas border on Monday, the Georgia Republican labeled the scene ‘eye-opening.’ He called on Democrats to recognize the threat from the record number of migrants.

“They cannot continue to hide behind the label of blissful ignorance,” Ferguson said, as Republicans argue it’s long overdue for President Biden to do something to reverse the increase.

The numbers tell a clear story. Since Biden took office, there has been a dramatic surge at the border.

In 2016 under Barack Obama, about 46,000 migrants a month came across. By 2019 under Donald Trump, it hit an average of 81,000 per month.

Under Joe Biden, migrant numbers are now averaging 194,000 per month so far this fiscal year.

“Last month, there were over 200,000 illegal crossings at our southern border — the highest for any June on record,” said U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens.

In an act of protest earlier this year, the GOP Governors of Texas and Arizona started using charter buses to ship migrants to Washington, D.C.

Derided as a political stunt — the move actually got under the skin of Mayor Muriel Bowser and other D.C. officials, who now want the feds to pay for the costs of dealing with those migrants.

“Americans do not sympathize with Mayor Bowser,” said U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, as Republicans mocked D.C. leaders for complaining about the burdens of illegal immigration.

A month ago, the U.S. Supreme Court gave the green light for the White House to get rid of Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ program, which forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico.

But no new policy has been rolled out yet and Republicans claim any reversal would mean an even larger immigration surge.

At the same time, President Biden is taking flak from more progressive Democrats who want immigration reform legislation.

But there is no real prospect for major immigration policy changes in Congress, no matter how much Democrats call for action.

Instead, polls clearly show most Republicans want to tighten border controls — with a strong majority of Independents in agreement.

It’s left Democrats playing defense on immigration, with the GOP more than happy to remind voters about that during this election year.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com