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Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: John Moore, Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Some swing voters are concerned President Biden isn't doing enough to discourage a surge of migration to the southern border — and they're worried about the buildup of child migrants in detention facilities.

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, the mounting immigration crisis — as well as rising fears about inflation — are presenting new litmus tests for the president, at a time when Biden hoped to be able to focus on the upsides to expanding COVID-19 vaccinations and stimulus.

These were among the biggest takeaways from our latest Engagious/Schlesinger swing-voter focus groups on governance in the Biden era.

  • The two March 16 sessions included 12 women and men — from a mix of the most competitive swing states — who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 but Biden in 2020.

The big picture: Two months into the new administration, none of the swing voters are expressing buyer's remorse over Biden.

  • But in addition to their concerns about undocumented immigration, most are concerned about unintended consequences of last week's passage of the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus.
  • Eleven of 12 said they're concerned about inflation and the national debt. Only seven support the new child tax credit, and only one supported making it permanent.
  • While focus groups are not statistically significant samples like polls, the responses show how some voters in crucial states are thinking and talking about national priorities and expectations for Biden.

Driving the news: While the Biden administration is turning away families attempting to cross the southern border without documentation, it has taken a stance of not turning back unaccompanied minors, citing humanitarian concerns.

What they're saying: Several of the focus group participants say pleas from Biden and other top officials for migrants to stay home or wait until reforms are in place aren't enough.

  • "I'm not sure that the countries that are sending their children up here are getting the message," said Connie B. from Michigan.
  • Janet H. from Arizona said migrant children who arrive at the border "aren't our problem" and the U.S. "cannot be the world's savior."
  • "I think he's not being firm enough, to say, 'Hey, people. It's not that we're against immigration, but... if you send your kids or you try to come here, we literally have nowhere to house you,'" said Kimberly M., a teacher from Arizona.
  • On the flip side, Rob K. from Minnesota said Biden's policies are "no different" from Trump's and "they're still putting these kids literally in cages."

Yes, but: Many of these swing voters were no fans of Republicans' own visits to the border to try to showcase the surge.

  • Frank R. from Florida, who is an immigrant, said Republicans are taking advantage of a tragic situation "to be able to get political gain." He said Biden "has bigger fish to fry" and that COVID-19 should remain his primary focus.
  • David C. from Texas said Republicans are trying to win back political control.
  • Kimberly M. and Connie B. suggested boosting foster parenting programs for migrant children.

The bottom line: "Swing voter support for Biden’s border policies is like sand falling through an hourglass," said Engagious president Rich Thau, who moderated the focus groups. "Right now there’s a reservoir of goodwill, but it’s depleting as time passes and impatience grows."

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
5 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania.