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15 House Democrats call on Biden to take border executive action


A group of House Democrats facing a tough campaign cycle has called on President Biden to take executive action on the United States' border with Mexico. 

The legislators from Minnesota, Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Michigan, among other states, urged Biden in a letter first obtained by CBS News to "immediately take further action to restore order at the Southern border and fix our broken immigration system." 

Mr. Biden has faced harsh criticism from Republicans and from some within his own party over his approach to immigration and the border ahead of November's general election. That dynamic is playing out as Mr. Biden runs against former President Donald Trump, his presumptive Republican challenger, for another term. 

In April, CBS News polls of three presidential battleground states (Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) showed that a majority of likely voters view the U.S.-Mexico border as a major factor in their vote for president. 

Angelo Fernández Hernández, a White House spokesperson, responded to the letter in an email, saying that "congressional Republicans chose to put partisan politics ahead of our national security, and rejected what border agents have said they need." 

"We continue to call on Speaker Johnson and House Republicans to pass the bipartisan deal to secure the border," Hernández said, despite the clear opposition from Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson to the deal. 

Yet the collapse of a bipartisan border deal in the Senate earlier this year provided Democrats an opportunity to counter long standing GOP attacks on the issue. 

The new letter, led by Minnesota Democratic Rep. Angie Craig, points to the torpedoing of that deal by Republicans as a sign that Mr. Biden should take action of his own. 

"It has become clear that the current situation remains untenable, but with Republicans playing politics on border security, it is time for your administration to act," the letter said. "We urge you to use all tools at your disposal, including executive action, to better address security at the Southern border, interdict illicit fentanyl and allow for orderly legal immigration." 

Among the 15 Democratic House members who signed the Tuesday letter are Rep. Elissa Slotkin, who is running for an open Senate seat in Michigan, as well as Reps. Susan Wild and Matt Cartwright, two Democratic incumbents in the presidential battleground state of Pennsylvania. Fellow Reps. Susie Lee and Steven Horsford from the politically crucial state of Nevada also signed on to the letter. 

The lawmakers note in their letter that "all of our constituents, no matter our congressional district, have felt the impacts of the current border situation." 

Last week the House passed a Republican led measure that in part denounced "the Biden administration's open-borders policies," in a bipartisan 223 to 191 vote. Thirteen Democrats joined 210 Republicans in supporting the effort— including Craig and three members who also signed Tuesday's letter to Mr. Biden. 

Similar GOP criticism also passed the House earlier this year with a small level of Democratic support. Most Democrats however have voted against those messaging efforts. 

Democrats narrowly lost control of the House in the 2022 midterms, handing the chamber back to Republican leaders for the first time since early 2019. The narrow GOP majority however has struggled frequently since taking over. Democrats would only need to win a small number of seats to win control back in this fall's general elections and the border is likely to be an issue that plays an important role in House campaigns between now and Election Day. 

Jack Pandol, the communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, responded to the letter by saying in an email that "extreme Democrats play Lucy with the football every election year - promising to lock down the border after opening the floodgates the year before." 

"It's a pathetic charade that says more about Democrats' political freakout over their open borders policies than it does about their willingness to end the crisis." Pandol said. 

Tuesday's letter is the latest demonstration of how the border and immigration in general can be a contentious issue as Mr. Biden looks to maintain enthusiasm from both centrist- minded Democrats and the more progressive- focused voters. 

Over the past months, Mr. Biden has been considering taking executive action to reduce illegal border crossings, which soared to record levels last year. One of the moves being explored would involve the president restricting asylum by invoking an authority known as 212(f) that allows presidents to suspend the entry of foreigners when their arrival is deemed to be "detrimental" to U.S. interests. The administration, however, has yet to announce any new border measures.

The Biden administration recently announced a new regulation enabling a large number of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to enroll in the Affordable Care Act's health insurance. 

During fundraisers in Texas in late March, Mr. Biden repeatedly accused Trump of bringing "chaos" to the border by spearheading a GOP effort in Congress to tank the bipartisan Senate border deal. Mr. Biden has also criticized Trump's inflammatory rhetoric on immigration, after the former president said undocumented migrants were "poisoning the blood of our country."

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