President Joe Biden on Friday urged Congress to pass a bipartisan bill to address the immigration crisis at the nation’s southern border, while vowing to shut down the border the day he signs it into law.
“What’s been negotiated would — if passed into law — be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country,” Biden said in a statement. “It would give me, as President, a new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed. And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law.”
Biden’s Friday evening statement comes after a hectic week on the Hill, as Senate negotiators try to salvage monthslong talks to reach a border deal and unlock aid for Ukraine. The White House has continued to engage in talks and has publicly signaled optimism that a deal can be struck, even as House Republicans say any bill is dead on arrival in the lower chamber. Donald Trump has also tried to scuttle the talks, adding another layer to complicated negotiations.
The border has long been a vexing issue for the Biden White House. The president has seen record levels of migrant crossings since taking office in 2021, further inundating a border already heavily strained by irregular migration and an overwhelmed asylum processing system.
The president on Friday also asked Congress to provide the border funding he requested in October, which would provide money for an additional 1,300 border patrol agents, 375 immigration judges, 1,600 asylum officers and improved technology to detect fentanyl.
“Securing the border through these negotiations is a win for America,” Biden said. “For everyone who is demanding tougher border control, this is the way to do it. If you’re serious about the border crisis, pass a bipartisan bill and I will sign it.”
The White House’s decision to have Biden weigh in speaks to the precarious nature of the dealmaking, and the urgency facing his administration to take action on the border — particularly during an election year, when Republicans will use the issue to rally their base.