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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."

Go deeper

U.S.-Mexico border patrol arrests reach all-time high

Migrants attempting to cross in to the U.S. from Mexico are detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Photo: Nick Ut/Getty Images

Border patrol made nearly 1.7 million arrests of immigrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2021 — the highest number on record, according to new agency data released on Friday.

Why it matters: Unauthorized crossings are beginning to decline, but still remain far above the usual numbers this time of year. The administration is also tracking other large groups of migrants headed toward the U.S.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (L) and Sen. Joe Manchin (R) at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 13, 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.