January 29, 2024

By Don Jacobson


Jan. 29 (UPI) — Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, cited by some as a possible Republican vice presidential candidate, is issuing an alarm over what she says is an “astonishing” number of encounters with illegal migrants at the northern U.S. border.

Stefanik, the No. 4 House Republican and staunch ally of former president and current GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trumpwas scheduled to hold a press conference along with Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., about “securing the U.S. northern border” Monday in Washington.

The event comes three days after Stefanik and several other New York Republican lawmakers demanded in a letter to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul that she follow the example of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in taking state-level measures to stem the flow of migrants along the northern U.S. border with Canada.

Linking Hochul with what she called the “far left” immigration policies of President Joe Biden, she criticized the Democratic New York governor for not joining in with 25 Republican governors who have backed Abbott in a standoff with the White House at Eagle Pass, Texas, an illegal crossing hotspot at the center of an intensifying clash on immigration policy.

“As an all-time high number of illegal immigrants cross our borders and bleed into New York, your refusal to reverse course has created an unsustainable environment that has taken a financial and humanitarian toll on the state,” Stefanik wrote, adding, “With Joe Biden and Alejandro Mayorkas refusing to act, it is past time for our governors to take decisive action to protect their citizens and our country.”

In her letter, she said an “astonishing” total of more than 91,000 encounters occurred between border officials and illegal migrants in the Swanton and Buffalo sectors of the northern United States during 2023.

Stefanik also cites the burden of illegal immigration on New York City, where Mayor Eric Adams in 2022 declared a humanitarian crisis over the influx of migrants to the city.

She blamed the situation on “far left state politicians” who “invited” the influx through establishing sanctuary city programs. Adams and other mainly Democratic mayors of northern cities, however, point the finger at Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star,” under which he has transported more than 85,000 asylum seekers to the cities of Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C., according to statistics published by Abbott’s office last month.

Hochul was among a group of Democratic governors who last week urged Biden and Senate leaders to reach a deal on a legislative package that would provide “desperately needed” funds to address the migrant surge at the border.

The president said Friday he backs the creation of a bipartisan measure now under negotiation in the Senate, through which the administration would be given new emergency powers to “shut down” the border if migration levels exceed certain thresholds. Biden said if the bill were passed, he would was use the new authority “immediately.”

Senate negotiators are expected to unveil the measure this week, but the talks already have prompted Trump to urge his congressional allies to scuttle any proposed deal unless it is “perfect.”

Some GOP lawmakers said Trump is opposing the measure in order to deny Biden a victory on the volatile topic of immigration ahead of November’s presidential election.

Stefanik said she “would be honored to serve in any capacity in a Trump administration” when asked about the vice presidential role on NBC’s Meet the Press earlier this month, adding, “We need to make sure that President Trump is in the strongest position to win in the general election.”