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Congress’ early review of new Biden border plan: Almost no one is happy

President Joe Biden hasn’t yet unveiled his planned executive order on border security, but the reviews from his party are already in on Capitol Hill: Democrats are painfully divided between frustrated progressives and party leaders on the defensive.

Many Congressional Hispanic Caucus members have criticized the Biden administration’s decision to strengthen restrictions for those seeking asylum restrictions, openly chiding him for failing to pair it with any policy that could offer certain undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship.

“I’m disappointed that this is a direction that the President has decided to take. We think it needs to be paired with positive actions and protections for undocumented folks that have been here for a long time,” Hispanic Caucus Chair Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) told reporters Tuesday morning.

Progressives are also openly dissatisfied with Biden’s embrace of a core provision of the bipartisan border deal that former President Donald Trump encouraged Republicans to kill earlier this year.

“It’s disappointing and I’ve made that clear to the White House as well. It does not solve the problem at the border,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said Monday night.

“It makes it so that we have bought into sort of this idea that you can fix the border without fixing the legal immigration system. What you need is more resources, more legal pathways, modernization of the system — none of those things are happening with this,” Jayapal added.

Congressional Democratic leaders on both sides of the Capitol were left to defend the administration’s move as the only step left open to the president given lawmakers’ inability to act on a Senate bill that many in the GOP effectively abandoned after one of their own helped to negotiate it.

“The president is left with little choice but to act on his own,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a Tuesday floor speech. “Republican intransigence forced the president’s hand.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries told reporters Tuesday morning: “It’s important that President Biden is planning to take decisive action given the fact that extreme MAGA Republicans have decided to try to weaponize the issue of the challenges at the border as opposed to solving the issue legislatively.”

Other Hispanic Caucus members withheld immediate criticism of the order before its release.

“I would hate to see folks who are seeking refuge, including in our state, uniting with other family members, be prohibited from doing so,” said Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.). “I’ll be analyzing it, but I have concerns right now.”

Biden did get some lukewarm backup from centrists for his attempt to address spiking migration at the southern border.

“I’m just thankful that something has happened,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (I-W.Va.) on Monday. “Anything is an improvement to what we have.”

And a group of centrists known as the New Democrats praised the order as reducing “the burden on Customs and Border Protection, immigration courts and the immigration system, and the communities we represent.” They added, however, that it was still up to Congress to pass border and immigration legislation.

Republicans gave Biden no credit for taking the steps, as expected, arguing that the order is coming months too late.

“Why did you wait until now if you were serious about [the border]?” asked Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a contender to be the next Senate GOP leader. “The simple answer is, he’s not serious about securing the border.”

“Too little, too late,” Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) warned Biden, calling the order a “superficial gesture” that is “not going to save your political life.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he spoke to Trump ahead of Biden’s announcement and indicated that the former president told him of the executive order: “This is a scam, and people will see through it.”

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