Sep 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

CBC members nix border visit

A Haitian migrant with a child on their shoulders is seen crossing the U.S.-Mexico border at the Rio Grande River.

A Haitian migrant carries a toddler on his shoulders today as he crosses the Rio Grande River. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus weighed visiting the U.S.-Mexico border this week to investigate the conditions faced by Haitian migrants and protest allegations of inhumane treatment by U.S. agents.

Why it matters: It's a thorny proposition both in terms of timing and messaging. Going assures a new wave of negative headlines for President Biden amid sinking popularity. And with congressional deadlines in the coming days over infrastructure, a possible government shutdown and debt-limit crisis, Democrats can't afford to lose any votes in the House.

  • The lawmakers instead opted for a White House meeting on Wednesday with Domestic Policy Council director Susan Rice and senior adviser and former CBC chairman Cedric Richmond, as well as members of Biden's national security team.

What they're saying: "I was the person that, prior to arranging to go to the White House, had wanted to go to the border. Part of the problem is we have to do the people's work, and it's not easy to get to the border," Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), the current chair of the CBC, told Axios.

  • "I thought it would be better, actually, if we could get a meeting with those people who are in the room to make the decisions on it."
  • "It is impossible to miss votes. And some of these are critical votes. ... We have votes in the House to send dollars to other countries."
  • Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), another CBC member, told Axios' Hans Nichols: "If members want to go to the border, that would be their prerogative."

Beatty said that during the meeting at the White House, she told Rice, Richmond and the others "this is not only deplorable and horrific, but we wanted it to stop."

  • "We wanted an investigation, we wanted it quickly. We wanted to know about what dollars that they put into Haiti if you're going to send people who haven't been there for decades back, and you know, asylum."
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