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Mississippi congressional members unhappy with Biden’s border plan

President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Thursday March 7, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Joe Biden unveiled a new southern border plan on Tuesday, and none of Mississippi’s federal officials are too happy about it.

The proclamation delivered from the White House would bar non-citizens from being granted asylum when ports of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border are deemed “overwhelmed,” or hit 2,500 per day over seven days. That will stay in effect until 14 days after there has been a seven-day average of 1,500 or fewer.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi’s lone Democrat in Congress, did not endorse Biden’s executive order. Rather, he said Republicans’ intransigence on long-term legislation forced the president’s hand ahead of the November elections.

“President Biden acted in the face of Congressional Republicans cynically deciding to block bipartisan border security legislation,” Thompson said. “That being said, I am concerned about the impact of the executive order on vulnerable people coming to the United States for safety and protection. We must ensure continued access to asylum under U.S. law.”

Thompson, who serves as the ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, acknowledged that the U.S. immigration system is “broken” and needs to be fixed as America has recently seen record numbers for illegal immigration. Thompson hopes the executive order will reignite conversations in Congress after Republicans backed off a seemingly bipartisan border security package in February at the behest of former President Donald Trump and over concerns about Biden’s willingness to implement stricter regulations.

“To address the situation at the border for the long term, we must fix our broken immigration system and properly resource border management needs,” he continued. “I urge my Republican colleagues to join Democrats to pass real, lasting solutions to strengthen border security, reform our immigration system, and protect vulnerable asylum seekers.”

On the other hand, Mississippi’s GOP delegation members criticized the plan but for different reasons than Thompson. Of the ones who have issued responses, the statements have mirrored each other with questions over why the proclamation did not come earlier in a term that began in January 2021.

“I’m not buying this executive order issued by a politically desperate administration that has for too long refused to acknowledge the crisis it created,” Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith said while Sen. Roger Wicker added: “Today’s action does not make up for three and a half years of inaction. This order just reaffirms what Senate Republicans have been saying – President Biden has had the power to secure our border since his first day in office.”

Per numbers tracked by the Associated Press, the daily averages currently being experienced at the southern border are higher than the cap set by Biden on Tuesday, which means the strategy should go into effect immediately. Lawsuits from advocacy groups are expected, though.

If migrants arrive at the border but do not express fear of returning to their home countries, the proclamation requires them to be sent back. Anyone who expresses fear or intention to seek asylum will be screened by U.S. asylum officers but a a higher standard than before, according to the White House.

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