Vulnerable House Dems do a U-turn on illegal immigration after calling crisis ‘non-existent threat’

A handful of vulnerable House Democrats, all of whom dismissed concern about the southern border crisis and voted against measures to enhance border security in the past, have attempted to show their attention to the issue as they campaign for re-election.

Three Democrats in competitive House races this election cycle — Reps. Yadira Caraveo, D-Colo., Gabe Vasquez, D-N.M., and Eric Sorenson, D-Ill. — have introduced bills, resolutions and amendments over the last year that would do little to limit the flow of migrants entering the country illegally, but they acknowledge the crisis.

Caraveo, who represents Colorado's 8th Congressional District, introduced a package of legislation earlier this year pertaining to some of the immigration struggles facing the United States.

The first-term lawmaker introduced two bills — the HELP for Interior Cities ACT and the ANTI-Drugs Act — in February and insisted both pieces of legislation address "the needs of Colorado communities in the wake of a recent increase in migrant arrivals."

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"This comprehensive plan would deliver funding to interior cities like Denver that are in need of support, reduce the financial burden placed on local governments, and stem the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S. It would also deliver much-needed funding to law enforcement both at the border and here in Colorado," she said of the measures at the time.

The HELP for Interior Cities ACT does little to address the flow of migrants entering the country and provides additional funding for migrant shelters located in cities not found along the border. The ANTI-Drugs Act, however, would make an already-existing Department of Homeland program titled "Operation Stonegarden" permanent and give law enforcement agencies grants for equipment and "personnel, including overtime and backfill, in support of enhanced border law enforcement activities."

Prior to introducing the measures, Caraveo was one of 211 Democrats who voted against the Secure the Border Act of 2023. That measure, which passed in the House, would have expanded the type of crimes that make someone ineligible for asylum, limited the eligibility to those who arrive at ports of entry, mandated a system similar to the E-Verify employment eligibility verification system and created additional penalties for visa overstay.

Caraveo was also one of 210 House Democrats who voted against a GOP-led effort in the House to impeach Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas.

During her previous tenure in the Colorado state House of Representatives, Caraveo joined other Democrats from across the nation to send a letter urging the Biden administration to relax immigration rules and "divest from immigration enforcement agencies like ICE and CBP."

Another Democrat who has brought attention to the issue in recent months is Vasquez, who represents New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District.

Earlier this month, Vasquez introduced a resolution that "condemns Republican inaction on common-sense solutions to our Nation’s broken immigration system and the challenges our Nation faces at the border."

Like Caraveo, Vasquez voted against the Secure the Border Act of 2023. Last October, however, he introduced a package of immigration bills amid a skyrocketing number of illegal immigrants arriving at the U.S. border. Those measures aimed to increase penalties for smugglers and cartels who engage in violent crimes, provide pathways for certain migrants to lawfully work in the U.S. and fund additional personnel at ports of entry.

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Prior to joining Congress, Vasquez lashed out at then-President Trump amid immigration woes in 2018 and insisted the idea of "sending the military to quell a non-existent threat" is "beyond stupid."

In a November 2020 post to Twitter, now known as X, Vasquez responded to one social media user who called for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection by writing, "the only ICE we need to be melting."

Vasquez was also one of many Democrats who applauded President Biden's decision to terminate construction of a border wall along the southern border. In a January 2021 post on social media, he said, "As of today, all construction on this racist, environmentally destructive, massive waste of money comes to a grinding halt. This vanity project was little more than a glorification of xenophobia and an insult to border communities. Lets tear it down."

Like Caraveo and Vasquez, Sorensen, who represents Illinois' 17th Congressional District, voted against the Secure the Border Act of 2023, which would have largely increased the total number of CBP agents.

Sorensen introduced two amendments to the Secure the Border Act — one that would require the hiring, training and assigning of "not fewer than 500 additional CBP officers" at points of entry and another that would have appropriated $25 million to "improve coordination" and "expand" a fentanyl task force.

Both amendments were not considered prior to a vote on the bill in the House, and Sorensen cited a lack of bipartisan cooperation in voting against the legislation.

After introducing the amendments, Sorensen went on to vote "nay" on impeachment efforts against Mayorkas earlier this year.

Sorensen, like most of his colleagues on his side of the aisle, has expressed opposition to the Trump-proposed idea of a southern border wall. In a November 2019 post promoting an Illinois restaurant, he wrote, "We don’t need border walls, we need more pancakes and burritos!"

Last July, Sorensen joined 201 other Democrats, including Vasquez and Caraveo, in voting against a measure that would have prevented the use of facilities of certain schools that receive federal financial assistance to provide shelter or housing to illegal immigrants. Additionally, the trio of Democrat lawmakers rejected a measure that aimed to prohibit the federal government from using certain federally administered lands to provide housing for illegal immigrants.

Caraveo and Vasquez are both seeking re-election to their seats that have been labeled "Democrat Toss Up" by the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election analyst. Sorensen's seat has been labeled as "Lean Democrat."

CBP records show the first six months of fiscal year 2024 had 1,340,801 total encounters, exceeding the first six months of fiscal year 2023, which set a record of 1,226,254 total encounters.

Caraveo, Vasquez and Sorenson did not respond to Fox News Digital's requests for comment.

Heartland voters feeling strain of mass migration: ‘Every state is a border state’

The oft-repeated claim by Republican politicians, "Every state is a border state," appears to be resonating with voters across the country and notably in states that are thousands of miles away from the U.S. southern border

"Every state became a border state when President Biden took office and immediately reversed commonsense policies that protected our borders," Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, told Fox News Digital in a statement. 

Immigration surpassed all other issues in a poll by Gallup in February, as more Americans agreed it was "the most important problem facing this country today." The number of respondents to say so jumped eight points from January, to 28%. The previous issue cited as most important by Americans was "government," followed by immigration, inflation and the economy in general. While immigration concerns managed to climb, government, inflation and economic worries remained relatively steady. 

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The issue ranked as the most important for the first time since 2019, prior to President Biden taking office and during former President Trump's administration. This was the year Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border following congressional refusal to grant him requested funds for border wall construction. 

"The federal government’s inaction at our nation’s borders has led to a crisis with direct impacts upon all fifty states," New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu told Fox News Digital in a statement. 

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In the state, which is more than 2,000 miles from the U.S. southern border, 83% of residents said they consider illegal immigration a serious issue for the country. Among those residents, 58% said it is "very serious," according to a March University of New Hampshire Survey Center (UNHSC) poll. 

Andrew Smith, director of the UNHSC, noted that the percentage of those who agree that illegal immigration is a "very serious" issue nationally has remained steady for more than a decade. 

Julie Kirchner, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), told Fox News Digital in a statement, "Americans are not only seeing total chaos at the borders, where foreign nationals are literally tearing down barriers and assaulting border agents, they are witnessing first-hand how the crisis impacts every aspect of society."

At the same time, the March polling revealed that support for the construction of a border wall has surged since 2017, when opposition among New Hampshire residents was at more than half. Now, 52% in the state are in favor of the border wall, while 39% are against it. 

"Every state, including New Hampshire, has experienced firsthand the economic and emotional toll associated with the federal government’s failed response," said Sununu. 

Reynolds claimed, "It’s clear to Iowans, and the American people, that the only way this chaos and crisis at the border can be fixed is at the ballot box," crediting Biden with the widespread effects of illegal immigration. 

Democratic strategist Eric Koch pushed back on the idea the surging concern over immigration is Biden's fault, however. He noted that Republicans and Democrats in the Senate had been negotiating a border package "that President Biden said he would have signed." The deal was ultimately sunk after former President Trump came out against it and Republican lawmakers followed suit. 

"Trump and Republicans don't actually want to solve problems and walking away from the bipartisan border deal only confirms that," Koch added. 

A White House spokesperson told Fox News Digital in a statement, "The Administration spent months negotiating in good faith to deliver the toughest and fairest bipartisan border security bill in decades because we need Congress to make significant policy reforms and to provide additional funding to secure our border and fix our broken immigration system."

The statement accused Republicans of placing "partisan politics ahead of our national security" in rejecting the border deal.

"Even without significant action from Congress, DHS is maximizing its enforcement operations," the spokesperson said. 

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In South Carolina's recent Republican presidential primary, 37% of voters pointed to immigration as the issue that was of the most significance to them ahead of casting their vote, according to a Reuters exit poll. 

The economy came in second at 33% in the state, which is similarly more than 1,000 miles from the southern border. 

"Every state is a border state because the Biden administration policies are to allow hundreds of thousands of aliens to illegally enter the United States and then be transported by federally funded NGO’s to wherever they choose," said James Massa, CEO of NumbersUSA. 

"A reason those non-border state voters are so focused on this is because of the right-wing media obsession with the issue," claimed Democratic strategist Kaivan Shroff, who chalked some of the concern up to a tactic to rally the Republican base.

"The irony here is Biden and Democrats have put forth a bipartisan border deal that would address many of the cited concerns Republicans have been focused on, and the deal was killed because of Trump," he added, echoing both the White House and fellow strategist Koch. 

As Massa pointed out, non-governmental organizations are involved in the transportation of illegal immigrants to various locations within the U.S., and many of these NGOs also receive federal reimbursement and advance payments from the Department of Homeland Security for providing shelter or other eligible services to migrants released by DHS. 

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"The border crisis is funded with taxpayer dollars, regardless of state," he claimed. 

He further said that illegal immigrants are choosing to travel further into the U.S. once being paroled by DHS, opting to settle in states "that have sanctuary policies and/or benefit programs."

Illegal immigrants have also been transported by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's administration to locations that have touted "sanctuary" policies for illegal immigrants, which some have pointed to as a trigger for concerns about the border across the country. 

"Since launching the border transportation mission in April 2022, Texas has transported over 112,000 migrants to self-declared sanctuary cities to provide much-needed relief to our overrun and overwhelmed border communities as the Biden administration leaves thousands of migrants in Texas border towns," said Renae Eze, Abbott spokesperson. 

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Republican strategist Doug Heye noted that "complaints from Democratic politicians that they can’t handle this crisis on their own" lend some credence to the claim that every state is now effectively a border state. 

Leaders of cities such as Chicago and New York, among others, have been overwhelmed by the illegal immigrants pouring in, prompting them to request assistance from Biden and the White House and plead with Abbott to halt his busing program.

"The sheer hypocrisy of these Democrat mayors knows no bounds, going to extreme lengths to avoid fulfilling their self-declared sanctuary city promises, yet they remain silent as President Biden transports migrants all around the country and oftentimes in the cover of night," added Eze. 

Iowa GOP strategist David Kochel suggested the "squealing of [Democratic] mayors … is definitely related to the busing."

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the House trying to impeach Mayorkas next week

House Republicans are aiming to tee up debate and a floor vote next week to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

As of this Friday, the House Rules Committee has not officially put impeachment on its schedule for Monday. But Fox is told that that could happen over the weekend if Republicans are satisfied with the whip count on impeachment. At this stage, the Rules Committee is only slated to prep a health care bill for the floor at its meeting Monday. The two impeachment articles must go to the Rules Committee before heading to the floor.

If the Rules Committee prepares the articles of impeachment on Monday, the full House could debate and vote on impeaching Mayorkas as early as Tuesday. If the Rules Committee meeting slips to Tuesday, then floor action on Mayorkas will likely shift to Wednesday. 

And even if the Rules Committee convenes on Mayorkas, the House won’t necessarily need to bring those articles of impeachment to the floor right away if the GOP brass is concerned about the vote count. 

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The decision to go to the floor is about the math. 

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., resigns Friday to run an arts organization in western New York. When the House returns on Monday, it will have 431 members — 219 Republicans and 212 Democrats. That’s a seven seat majority. And the retirement of Higgins helps the GOP make the math work in their impeachment quest. With a delta of seven seats between the majority and minority, Republicans can now lose three votes on their side and pass something without assistance from Democrats. The margin was two votes prior to Higgins stepping down. 

But it’s more complicated than that. 

It is doubtful that House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., will be back next week after receiving cancer treatments. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., should return after being injured in a car accident. But there are always a handful of members out on any given day for health and other reasons. So if Republicans go to the floor to impeach Mayorkas, they need to make sure everyone who is a yea on impeachment is present. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., is a no right now. Johnson told Fox Business Friday morning that he would work on Buck this weekend. 

So, if things go the way the GOP leadership wants, the House could vote on Tuesday or Wednesday to impeach Mayorkas. If the leadership doesn’t put impeachment on the floor, the math won’t work. 

Keep in mind that the Republican hand could either get better or worse if for some reason the House doesn’t vote next week on impeachment. 

There is a special election in New York on February 13 to replace former Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., who was expelled. Former Rep. Tom Suozzi, R-N.Y., is running against GOP nominee Mazi Melesa Pilip. If Suozzi wins, the GOP majority shrinks again. But a Pilip victory serves as a Republican reinforcement. 

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If and when the House votes, it considers two articles of impeachment. One accuses Mayorkas of disregarding the law. The other charges Mayorkas of lying to Congress, saying the border was secure. 

The House will likely vote on each article separately. Mayorkas would be impeached if the House adopts either article. Moreover, the House does not always approve both articles of impeachment in such an inquest. In 1997, the House only adopted two of the four articles of impeachment leveled against former President Clinton. 

Think of impeachment as an indictment. It’s then up to the Senate to act as a "court" and judge whether the accused is guilty of the charges in a trial. 

The impeachment of cabinet officials is rare. The House has now impeached multiple Presidents and federal judges. But only one cabinet member, Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876. 

If the House approves impeachment articles, it must next take a separate vote to appoint "impeachment managers." It then dispatches the article or articles of impeachment to the Senate. 

"Impeachment managers" are House members who serve as prosecutors. They present the findings of the House before the Senate. Senators sit as jurors. 

Fox is told that the House wants to get the impeachment articles to the Senate quickly after the vote. The Senate is trying to consider a major border security bill next week. So there could be a bit of a parliamentary traffic jam as the Senate potentially grapples with both the border bill and maybe the start a Senate trial. But it’s also possible a trial could wait until the week of Feb. 11. 

T,his scenario produces a rather shocking split screen. The Senate is dealing with a border security bill as it entertains an impeachment trial against the Homeland Security Secretary. 

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There is a bit of a ceremony to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate from the House and for the Senate to receive the articles. In this case, Acting Clerk of the House Kevin McCumber and House Sergeant at Arms William McFarland escort the articles of impeachment and House managers across the Capitol Dome to the Senate. The Senate gathers, usually with all senators sitting at their desks. Senate Sergeant at Arms Karen Gibson then receives the House entourage at the Senate door and reads the following proclamation to the Senate. 

"All persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States articles of impeachment against Alejandro Nicholas Mayorkas." 

The articles are then presented to the Senate and the managers are introduced. That is all which usually happens on the first day of a Senate trial – although Fox was told the Senate might try to squeeze everything 

Under Senate impeachment trial rule III, the body is supposed to wait until the next day to swear-in senators as jurors. But Fox is told that could happen on day one in this instance. 

According to Senate rules, the "trial" must begin the day after the Senate receives the articles at 1 p.m. Trials are supposed to run Monday through Saturday. There were Saturday sessions in both impeachment trials of former President Trump in 2020 and 2021. 

It is unlikely that U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over a possible Mayorkas trial. Senate impeachment rule IV requires the Chief Justice to preside over cases involving the President or Vice President. In this case, it’s likely that Senate President Pro Tempore Patty Murray, D-Wash., will preside over a Mayorkas tribunal.

Now we get to perhaps the most interesting question of all: How much of a trial is there? 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., ducked questions from yours truly last fall about what a potential impeachment trial for President Biden or Mayorkas would look like. 

Schumer again sidestepped a question this week when asked if he would "hold" a trial. "Let’s wait and see what the House does," replied Schumer. 

But regardless, the Senate cannot immediately bypass a trial. If the House impeaches, the Senate is compelled to at least receive the impeachment articles, the House managers and swear-in the senators. 

At that point, the Senate can decide to hold a full trial, or potentially, move to dismiss or actually have straight, up or down votes on convicting or exonerating Mayorkas. 

In the 1998 impeachment trial of former President Clinton, late Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., made a motion to dismiss the charges. 

In 2010, the Senate was on the verge of launching an impeachment trial of former federal judge Samuel Kent, but he resigned after the House impeached him and before the Senate began the trial. The House notified the Senate it did not want to continue with the trial. So the Senate eventually conducted a vote to discharge itself of responsibilities regarding Kent. 

The Senate could so something similar this time. 

But here’s the rub: There will eventually be either a vote to convict or exonerate Mayorkas or dismiss the charges. Senate Republicans will watch very closely if Senate Democrats engineer any vote to short-circuit the trial. The GOP will take note of how multiple vulnerable Democrats facing competitive re-election bids in battleground districts vote.

If they vote to end the trial or clear Mayorkas, Republicans will likely enroll that into their campaigns against those Democratic senators. Keep in mind that Fox polling data revealed that border security was the number-one issue facing voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. Republicans will examine the trial-related votes of Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Jon Tester, D-Mont., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz. – if she runs.

But first, we have to see if the House has the votes to impeach. Everything hinges on that.

Mayorkas claims border encounters have dropped ‘significantly’ as he faces investigation, possible impeachment

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says border encounters "dropped significantly" since the agency announced new border actions, but he didn't provide details to support the claim.