U.S.-Mexico Border Trouble Gives Republicans Foothold After Democratic Stimulus Win

The emerging problems at the U.S.-Mexico border have presented Republicans with a major opportunity for criticism of President Joe Biden's administration at a time when Democrats have recorded a significant victory on COVID-19 stimulus.

A record 7,000 unaccompanied migrant children were transferred to U.S. refugee agency shelters in February while there were more than 3,200 unaccompanied minors in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody on Monday, according to CNN. These numbers have placed strain on border facilities.

Republicans have harshly criticized the Biden administration for events at the border and pointed to the president's decision to reverse some of former President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policies.

While the White House has refused to call the situation at the southern border a "crisis," events have given Republicans a chance to criticize Biden on the familiar terrain of immigration and border security.

Biden and the Democrats are on course for a major political win as the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is due for final approval by the House of Representatives today. Recent polling shows the stimulus package is widely popular.

While Republicans did offer criticism of the stimulus bill, its popularity and successful passage in the Senate seem to have concluded the debate. However, the border issue represents a major challenge for Biden and many GOP figures have shifted focus to it.

"The border is approaching full-blown crisis, and the Biden Admin's response is ... nothing," Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) tweeted on Tuesday, sharing a Fox News report about CBP closing Arizona highway checkpoints in order to redeploy agents to the border.

"The Biden administration and Democrats need to stop denying the humanitarian crisis at our southern border," wrote Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), adding the hashtag "SecureTheBorder."

Hawley and Cruz were the two most prominent senators to object to Biden's Electoral College win on January 6 and faced backlash for their actions, including suggestions that they bore some culpability for the deadly Capitol riot.

Other Republicans also weighed in on the border. "There is a mounting crisis at our southern border and this isn't coincidental timing. The Biden admin has a duty to massively step up their motivation to address it instantly. Lead or get out of the way," tweeted Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY).

"The American people support legal immigration. I certainly do," said Senator John Kennedy (R-LA). "The American people also believe that illegal immigration is illegal. They believe that vetting people at the border isn't racist—it's prudent."

U.S. Border Patrol arrested more than 75,000 people along the U.S.-Mexico border in January. This is an increase from December, when the number of arrests was 71,000.

The situation at the border will likely continue to develop and Republicans, who have long emphasized the need to tackle illegal immigration and border crossings, may have found a foothold to help them successfully hit back at the Democrats.

A Migrant Child Holds a "Biden" Sign
Dareli Matamoros, a girl from Honduras, holds a sign asking President Biden to let her in during a migrant demonstration demanding clearer United States migration policies, at San Ysidro crossing port in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico on March 2, 2021. Republicans have taken aim at Biden for the current problems at the southern border. GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images