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Thune: Democrats Can’t Cover Up Their Open-Border Record

“[T]he vote on border legislation the Democrat leader has announced for this week isn’t really about addressing illegal immigration. It’s about giving the American people the impression that Democrats care about illegal immigration.”

May 21, 2024

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor about the ongoing crisis at the southern border and Leader Schumer’s shameless ploy to blame Republicans for a disaster of President Biden’s making. Thune noted that the president has the authority to clean up the chaos he created at the border, a point Thune also made in an opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, April border numbers came out last week, bringing us up to more than 1.5 million migrant encounters at the southern border so far in fiscal year 2024.

“1.5 million.

“In just seven months.

“Between official U.S. Customs and Border Protection encounters and known gotaways – individuals the Border Patrol saw but was unable to apprehend – we’re closing in on a staggering 10 million migrant encounters at our southern border under President Biden.

“That’s substantially more than the population of New York City.

“In fact, it’s more than the population of all but the largest U.S. states!

“And there are still eight more months in the president’s term.

“Mr. President, after three years of half-measures, deflections, and outright ignoring the raging crisis at our nation’s border, the president and Democrats appear to have finally woken up to the fact that their border crisis might be a major political liability for them in the upcoming election.

“And fear for their election prospects is doing what three years of chaos at the southern border could not – get them focused on illegal immigration. Sort of.

“Because the vote on border legislation the Democrat leader has announced for this week isn’t really about addressing illegal immigration.

“It’s about giving the American people the impression that Democrats care about illegal immigration.

“If the Democrat leader were serious about addressing the crisis at our southern border, he would be bringing up legislation that actually stood a chance of making it out of both houses of Congress and to the president’s desk.

“But he’s not.

“Instead he’s bringing up a vote that he knows will fail in the hope of giving political cover to vulnerable Democrats – and with the side benefit, he hopes, of putting Republicans in a difficult spot.

“Political theater at its finest.

“And if the Democrat leader goes through with this vote this week, he should expect some difficult conversations.

“Perhaps he would like to explain why, if Democrats are so concerned about illegal immigration and securing the border, they have repeatedly banded together this year to oppose commonsense amendments that came to the floor.

“You would think that if Democrats were really worried about addressing the illegal immigration crisis, they might have supported Senator Blackburn’s motion to allow state and local law enforcement to detain criminal illegal aliens for ICE to deport them.

“Or Senator Lankford’s amendment to prohibit funding from being used to release special-interest aliens – individuals who may pose a threat to the United States – during legal proceedings.

“Or Senator Hagerty’s amendments to prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to fly illegal immigrants into the United States or have them count in the census.

“The list goes on.

“It’s hard to understand why anyone would oppose such commonsense measures.

“And yet Democrats did.

“So it’s just a little hard to swallow their newfound enthusiasm for border security.

“Mr. President, needless to say, it’s not just Democrats in Congress scrambling for political cover.

“The president is also desperately trying to make himself appear serious on the border.

“Two weeks ago, his Department of Homeland Security proposed a rule to expedite the deportation of criminals and terrorists.

“But if the president thought this would make him look serious on border security, he was wrong.

“Because the president’s new order is a reversal of his own policy established earlier in his administration.

“That’s right.

“The only reason the president had to – finally – allow for the immediate deportation of criminals and terrorists is because his administration had created a situation that allowed these individuals to stay in the country.

“I’m glad President Biden is making a small attempt to clear up part of the mess he’s made, but I’m afraid “Vote for me; I’m cleaning up the historic disaster I’ve created” may not be the most convincing election slogan.

“And, Mr. President, let’s be very clear, we are here today, with three successive years of record-breaking illegal immigration at our southern border, because of President Biden.

“On the day he took office, the president began dismantling the border security policies of his predecessor.

“And illegal immigration began surging in response.

“And, Mr. President, it’s never stopped.

“And so while I appreciate that my Democrat colleagues would like to make it seem like this is a congressional matter, in order to take the president off the hook and put Republicans on it, the truth is we don’t need congressional action to fix the crisis at our southern border.

“President Biden created this border crisis.

“And he can end it today, using the very same authority that he used to dismantle so many border security policies when he became president.

“Mr. President, we have five more months until Election Day.

“And I suspect this won’t be the last attempt by Democrats to try to convince people that they want to address illegal immigration.

“But after three-plus years of a Democrat-created border crisis, will the American people really believe that the arsonists are serious about putting out the fire?

“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”