What to Know in Washington: Political Battle on Border Sharpens

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Lawmakers are flocking to the US-Mexico border this week, as Republicans wield immigration politics against the Biden administration and Democrats rush to soften the blow.

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) plans to tour border facilities with Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) in Laredo, Texas, on Friday.

His trip comes a day after Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), joined by freshman GOP lawmakers during his first border trip as speaker, toured US Customs and Border Protection operations in Cochise County, Ariz., on Thursday.

“This has all got to change, that’s our commitment, and that’s what we’ll make happen,” McCarthy said during a press conference, referencing drug trafficking and border-crossers who evade authorities.

John Moore/Getty Images
Immigrants in keep warm by a fire at dawn after spending a night in El Paso alongside the Texas-Mexico border fence on Dec. 22, 2022.

Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva, whose district includes much of the Arizona-Mexico border, was also in the region Thursday to tout investments in CBP facilities.

The competing messaging underscores how lawmakers have locked in border security as a key political battleground in the lead-up to the 2024 elections. Congressional delegations and committees have taken or announced at least a half-dozen border trips so far this year. Ellen M. Gilmer previews the border battles to come.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Giuseppe Macri in Washington at gmacri@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Katrice Eborn at keborn@bgov.com

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