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Henry Cuellar (right). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

A Democratic lawmaker representing a border district warned the Biden administration against easing up too much on unauthorized immigrants, citing their impact on his constituents, local hospitals and their potential to spread the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told Axios he supports President Biden. But the moderate said he sees the downsides of efforts to placate pro-immigrant groups, an effort that threatens to blow up on the administration.

  • "You just can't say, 'Yeah, yeah, let everybody in' — because then we're affected down there at the border," Cuellar told Axios on Saturday.

The big picture: Border crossings are rising. Hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley area are already busy. The Border Patrol has less capacity than normal.

  • Cuellar hopes the administration continues using a Trump-era public health order to quickly expel migrant adults and families, at least during the pandemic. Activists have called for Biden to end the use of the policy, called Title 42.
  • He said smugglers will likely use the shift in immigration tactics from the Trump to the Biden administration to convince migrants to come to the U.S. "The bad guys know how to market this," Cuellar said.
  • Some immigrants are being allowed into the country without getting a COVID-19 test first — a concern for some non-governmental organizations caring for them, Cuellar said.
  • He complained about a contradiction between releasing some unauthorized immigrants into border communities while keeping legal, cross-border travel closed. Many local businesses depend on Mexican shoppers for 50% to 75% of their sales, he said.

Cuellar is not the first Texas Democrat to warn the Biden administration of the impact of growing numbers of immigrants on border communities.

  • Facing the weather emergency in Texas, Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano targeted the president in a video this month: "I am pleading and requesting with you to please put a halt to any measures regarding the release of immigrants."

Go deeper

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

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