White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) inviting Biden to go to the U.S.–Mexico border, but would not say whether Biden accepted the invitation.
“Look, he’s been there. He’s been to the border,” Jean-Pierre said.
Critics panned the statement as false, with Biden having never taken a trip to the border.
“President Biden has not been to the border,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) wrote on Twitter.
“Categorically false. He has never stopped at the southern border in his entire career,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) added.
Jean-Pierre did not say what she meant, but then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed in 2021 that Biden driving near there in 2008 counted.
“He did drive through the border when he was on the campaign trail in 2008, and he is certainly familiar with the fact, and it stuck with him, the fact that in El Paso, the border goes right through the center of town,” Psaki said at the time.
The 2008 trip took Biden by the border for just a few minutes, according to David Wade, who worked for Biden at the time.
Psaki was speaking after Biden told a CNN town hall, when asked why he was not going to the border, “I’ve been there before.
“I mean, I know it well,” he said at the time. “I guess I should go down but the whole point of it is, I haven’t had a whole hell of a lot of time to get down [there]. I’ve been spending time going around looking at the $900 billion damage done by hurricanes and floods and weather, and traveling around the world.”
Confronted over whether things had changed between 2008 and 2021, Psaki said, “no.”
Illegal Immigration Surge
Biden quickly altered or ended key Trump-era immigration policies, including construction of the border wall and the Title 42 pandemic powers. Officials have also drastically reduced deportations.
Since Biden took office, illegal immigration has exploded to record levels. The number of apprehensions at the southern border set new fiscal and calendar year records in 2021, even with lower numbers at the end of former President Donald Trump’s presidency. Those records have already been broken in 2022.
Illegal immigrants speaking to various outlets have said that Biden’s policies have encouraged them to make the trek.
Biden administration officials have repeatedly claimed that the border is not “open.”
“It is not,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a Biden appointee, told senators during a May 4 hearing in Washington.
While Title 42, which enables quick expulsion of many illegal aliens, is poised to end, “that does not mean the border is open,” Mayorkas added in a later briefing.
On Wednesday, Jean-Pierre said that the Biden administration has been working to secure the border.
“Since he took office President Biden has been taking action to fix our immigration system and secure our border,” she said. It wasn’t clear what she meant.
The press secretary also attempted to blame Republicans, saying they weren’t willing to negotiate legislation that would be aimed at “fixing a situation that’s been around for decades now.”
McCarthy, who is vying to become the next House speaker when Republicans take control of the lower chamber in January 2023, has urged Mayorkas to resign in part because of the belief that the border is secure.
“We have lost operational control of our Southern border, empowering drug cartels and human traffickers,” he said during a recent press conference.
McCarthy invited Biden to the border during a meeting on Nov. 29 that also featured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
“He asked me about the border. So I told him about my trip,” McCarthy said.
The Republican just traveled to the border to review operations and meet with officials there.
McCarthy recounted how tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have come across a single freeway in recent months, and that border agents told him not deporting people was having a negative effect on border security.
“The border agents themselves are cut short, that there’s not enough of them, that they’re sitting and working the job as processing, where you could have somebody else with their job so they could be out front, I explained to the president what I saw, where you can see the videos of these cartels literally shooting tracers at our national guard. A woman hung because she didn’t pay the cartel, her feet cut off, put on fire, that the cartels controlling as you watch them [go] across,” McCarthy said.
“The control of our border is lost right now. That is why I asked [the] Homeland Security secretary to resign. And come January, we’ll have an investigation of why the border has become the situation it is and not allow them to continue along the same path.”