The conversation surrounding illegal immigration has heated up on Capitol Hill after a bus sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott containing such migrants arrived on Wednesday in Washington, The Hill reported.
Abbott, a Republican, said in a statement after the first bus arrived that the purpose was to nudge the Biden administration ''to more immediately meet the needs of the people they are allowing to cross our border,'' according to NBC News.
The action is also motivated by President Joe Biden's decision to end enforcement of Title 42, a provision that allows the surgeon general to implement stronger immigration restrictions and limitations to asylum claims in the event of a public health emergency.
The rule has been in place since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, and proponents have warned that repealing it could lead to millions more entering the country.
"We're talking about astronomical numbers," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told Newsmax's "Prime News" earlier this month, adding that lifting Title 42 could potentially lead to "6.5 million" people entering the country a year; up from the current "2.5 million."
The ''publicity stunt,'' a characterization reiterated by White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday, appears to be working.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., accused Abbott of using immigrants who entered the country illegally to his political advantage of embarrassing the White House.
''Republican leaders don't see immigrants as human. Just props to get some laughs and clicks,'' Murphy said. ''And let's be 100% clear. The idea was to savage Biden and Democrats no matter what they did.''
Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Wednesday that he hopes ''this gets liberal elites and the Biden administration to actually care about the millions of illegal aliens who are streaming across our southern border.''
The White House also criticized Abbott's recent order for state troops to increase truck inspections at the Texas border. Psaki called the inspections ''unnecessary and redundant'' and ''significantly impacting the local and regional supply chains,'' according to The Hill.
Both Abbott and Paxton are seeking reelection this year. Abbott defeated seven other candidates in the March 1 GOP primary. He faces former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke in the Nov. 8 general election, along with Libertarian hopful Mark Tippetts and two independents, according to Ballotpedia.
Paxton, meanwhile, faces George P. Bush in the May 24 Republican runoff. Rochelle Garza and Joe Jaworski are running in the Democratic runoff.
Libertarian Mark Ash will also be on the general election ballot.
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