2024March 2024Opinion

Britt’s Words on Border Security Highlight Republican Blindness

Andrea Hebel

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On March 7, U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.) issued the Republican Party’s response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address. Britt gave the speech from the middle of her beige kitchen, spending 16 minutes criticizing Biden’s policies as ineffective and out-of-touch in a stilted manner that Saturday Night Live barely had to change to parody. 

Britt’s most controversial talking points, however, came in the form of a tragic story about a woman who she met in Texas on a visit to the border in her first hundred days in office. The woman was brutally assaulted by drug cartels for numerous years, starting at age 12. Britt admonished Biden for allowing something like this to happen in America, when it would not be acceptable in most “third-world countries.”

This story is, undeniably, tragic. But here’s the problem. As Jonathan Katz, an independent journalist, revealed on TikTok shortly after the speech, this story did not happen under President Biden’s leadership. It didn’t even occur in the United States. It took place in Mexico, between 2004 and 2008 – under the leadership of George Bush, a Republican president. Britt’s publicist confirmed to The Associated Press that this was the story Britt was referring to.

Britt has defended her use of this story, revealing in an interview with Fox News that she did not mean to give the impression that it occurred under Biden’s presidency. She justified this through her use of the word “woman” to describe the victim, contrasted by the fact that the abuse started when she was 12. However, without a degree of critical thinking, this is not immediately clear to the listener. It also does not negate the fact that she very blatantly implied that it occurred on the U.S. side of the southern border, when it did not.

Britt’s speech highlights something that has been true of the Republican party throughout Biden’s term. Party elites are so concerned about regaining the presidency that they have failed to consider that they are not voiceless – they hold a majority in congress and are perfectly capable of creating and passing legislature, if they are willing to at least glance at a compromise with Democrats. Instead, as Britt’s speech shows, they aim to make the average American feel powerless and scared – about their ability to buy groceries and stay safe from scary powers abroad that threaten to invade at every corner – in the hopes that they will be seen as the saviors and their own failures will be ignored.

Immigration is perhaps the clearest example of that. It is no secret that there is a crisis on the southern border. Migrants are arriving at a pace that immigration systems and agencies simply cannot keep up with, as the U.S. Government Accountability Office reports. But that could have started to change last month. As The Washington Post reports, Republicans and Democrats spent 4 months negotiating the most stringent immigration reform since Ronald Reagan’s presidency. It would have designated $118 billion to enact sweeping changes to asylum, increase funding for asylum officers and border services, and increase the path to legal immigration for some migrants. It was not perfect – it was criticized by the ACLU and the American Immigration Council – but it was a step in the right direction, a sign that at least a bipartisan compromise could be made. Neither side was happy, which sometimes is good.

However, it soon proved dead-on-arrival in the Senate, as The Washington Post continues, not for its content – but because it was criticized by former President Trump, who implored Republicans to kill the bill so that he could turn it into a campaign issue.

Let that sink in.

A former U.S. President, and his legions of supporters, killed a bill that had a chance to solve real problems, but because of their arrogance and lust for power it didn’t come to fruition. Katie Britt can criticize Biden from her kitchen all she wants, but her party is what stands in the way of the U.S. and solid immigration reform. She is the one who voted “nay” on a bill that would have given her what she wants. 

A major reason why the border is insecure is because agencies are stretched so thin. The Washington Post reports that the bill’s failure means that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) now has a $700 million budget gap – which they plan to solve by the mass release of detainees from custody. If Britt and her fellow Republicans are so worried about continued incidents of immigrant terror, like the murder of college student Laken Riley by an illegal immigrant in February, another of her immigration talking points, then they should be most concerned with increasing funding to the organizations that can actually stop these incidents. Instead, they will inevitably continue to focus on scaring the American people instead of helping them.

Image courtesy of Getty Images

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