Lawmakers urge Congress to take action on southern border to keep migrant decline

A pair of lawmakers on opposite sides of the aisle on Sunday warned the decline in migrants at the U.S. southern border is likely not permanent and called for congressional action to maintain the drop.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas), in two separate interviews on CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” agreed illegal crossings have decreased in recent months but poured cold water on the numbers staying that way.

When asked by “Face the Nation” anchor Margaret Brennan if the decline in migrant crossing numbers is because of the Mexican government or the Biden administration’s policies, Murphy said, “It is because of, I think, smart, effective diplomacy between the United States and the Mexican government.”

According to internal government data obtained by CBS News last week, illegal crossings at the southern border are down by more than 50 percent compared to the record-high figures observed in December.

“I don’t know that it’s permanent,” Murphy continued. “And so, I think we have to just recognize that without updating the laws of this country, without surging more resources to the border, we can’t count on the numbers staying as low as they are today.”

Gonzales, meanwhile, argued the decrease does not relate to President Biden’s action at the border.

“Well, first off, it doesn’t have to do with what Joe Biden has done. We’re on pace for 1.3 million people to come over illegally. The numbers are down. The explanation is Mexico,” he said Sunday. “In many, many ways this is just Mexico carrying Biden a couple rounds. Now Joe Biden wants to secure this thing long-term, I think he needs to stop looking at the Senate for a solution and look to the House.”

Gonzales noted Mexico will hold elections next month and have an incentive to keep the border crossing numbers low ahead of the June 2 race.

For the second time in recent months, the Senate last week voted down a bipartisan border security bill negotiated over the fall and winter by Murphy and Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz).

Murphy on Sunday said he and many colleagues were “heartbroken” over the failed vote.

“And remember, today, you have about 3000 people crossing the border on a daily basis. That’s still a high number compared to what we saw 10 years ago,” he said. “And so, for many of us, we are just heartbroken.”

“We’re sick over the fact that our Republican colleagues in Congress continue to vote against bipartisan border security that would give us the opportunity to actually give the president the resources and the authorities to make this a permanent change, to get the numbers under control on a permanent basis,” he added.

Gonzales suggested Biden needs to have more “conversations” with members of the House rather than in just the Senate, where the border bill was negotiated.

“The House is where I believe you start if you truly wanted to solve it. Now, if you want to make it about politics and just blame someone else, then you hold it in the Senate and you say we’re trying, we’re doing the best we can,” Gonzales said.

The Hill reached out to the White House for comment.

Murphy maintained his party supports bipartisan border security, repeating the accusation Republicans and former President Trump are looking to use the border as an issue to run on this November.

“President Trump’s desire [is] to keep the border a mess because he thinks that it helps him politically. This is as clear a contrast as has ever been available to the Democratic Party on the issue of the border,” he said. “Democrats support bipartisan border security, Republicans want the border to be a mess, because it’s good politics for them. And the president and every Democrat running for office should be talking about that.”

Following last week’s vote, Biden slammed Republicans for blocking the legislation, arguing the GOP does not care about securing the U.S.’s southern border.

“Congressional Republicans do not care about securing the border or fixing America’s broken immigration system. If they did, they would have voted for the toughest border enforcement in history. Instead, today, they put partisan politics ahead of our country’s national security,” he said in a statement Thursday.

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