FIRST ON FOX: The White House says a government analysis of a budget proposal laid out this month by a conservative House caucus would make the U.S. southern border less secure by eliminating funding for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staff and reducing the ability to combat drug trafficking.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, the White House said the proposal by the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) is a “five-alarm fire for hardworking families” that endangers public safety and border security.
The caucus is proposing measures that would cut current spending and place a cap on future spending. It would also claw back money from unspent COVID-19 funds, the expansion of the IRS and elsewhere. Members have said that the cap would save $3 trillion over the long term.
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However, the White House is now going on the offense against the plan, and cites a new analysis by agencies and the Office of Management and Budget that it says shows the proposal “will make out border less secure” and cut funding for thousands of CBP staff.
“While the President’s Budget proposes record funding to support the men and women working day and night to secure our borders, House Republicans are pushing draconian cuts to this critical national priority that would endanger Americans’ safety,” a White House official told Fox News Digital.
“Their draconian cuts would eliminate funding for more than 2,000 Customs and Border Protection agents and officers and severely undermine our ability to secure the border and combat drug trafficking—allowing an additional 150,000 pounds of cocaine, nearly 900 pounds of fentanyl, nearly 2,000 pounds of heroin, and more than 17,000 pounds of methamphetamine into our country,” the official said.
“At the same time, their efforts to block our highly effective border enforcement measures will result in a significant increase in unlawful border crossings, which are down to the lowest levels in two years because of the measures President Biden put in place earlier this year,” they said.
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The official was referring to measures implemented in January, including a humanitarian parole program for up to 30,000 migrants a month from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti combined with an expansion of Title 42 expulsions to those nationalities. Since then, border numbers have dropped from the 251,000 encountered in December to just over 150,000 in January and February. The program has been challenged by a coalition of 20 Republican states.
Republicans have sought to blame the administration for the historic migrant surge — which saw over 1.7 million migrant encounters in FY 21 and more than 2.3 million in FY 2022 — arguing that policies such as a narrowing of interior enforcement, increased “catch-and-release” and the ending of border wall construction have encouraged illegal migration. The administration has instead blamed Republicans in Congress for failing to engage on a sweeping immigration reform bill the administration unveiled on Day One, while also not approving requests for border funding — including those in two spending bills and a nearly $5 billion proposal made in December.
Speaking to Fox News Digital on Monday, House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry dismissed the White House criticism as “smear and fear.”
“The president complaining about anybody’s actions or success on the border is like a pyromaniac talking to people about fire prevention,” he said.
“The border has seen a huge influx of people coming across starting in his administration,” he said. “More people have come across this border in his two years than came across in Barack Obama’s eight years combined with President Trump’s four years. So it’s a little rich coming from him.”
Perry also said that most Border Patrol agents Republicans have spoken to said they don’t need more resources: “They’re willing and able to do the job. They need a president and a secretary of Homeland Security who will enforce current law.”
Meanwhile, the ongoing budget battle over President Biden’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2024 is heating up. President Biden has called on Congress to pass a debt ceiling increase with no conditions attached to it. The White House has accused Republicans of pursuing cuts that would “have damaging impacts on seniors, families, and communities across the country” and would endanger public safety, raise costs for families, hurt national security and send jobs overseas.
“The White House will put those House Republican priorities in sharp contrast with the President’s Budget, which invests in America, lowers costs for families, protects and strengthens Medicare and Social Security, and reduces the deficit by $3 trillion over 10 years, while ensuring no one making less than $400,000 per year pays a penny more in new taxes,” the official said.
Perry called on Biden to negotiate the debt ceiling request and said that, with banking failures and continued inflation, it is necessary to end “unbridled spending” from the administration.
“Somebody has to be reasonable here and talk about reining in this federal spending. And if it’s not going to be the president, the Freedom Caucus is happy to do it,” he said.
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Meanwhile, the border is bracing for the end of Title 42, the public health order allowing for the rapid expulsion of migrants at the southern border, which will end on May 11 along with the public health emergency. That has raised fears of additional surges at the border once the order drops.
The administration has also proposed an asylum rule that would presume ineligibility for asylum if migrants have crossed illegally while also failing to claim asylum in a previous country through which they passed. That, however, has been met by pushback from immigration activists and even some Democrats.
Source: Fox News