The Hamilton Spectator
GOP shifts attacks on Biden’s policy to Canada-U.S. border
Coalition worried about trafficking, lack of security
Canada’s border with the United States, the longest in the world and an enduring symbol of bilateral co-operation, has largely avoided becoming a partisan cudgel on Capitol Hill.
That, however, may be about to change.
Two House Republicans, Rep. Mike Kelly from Pennsylvania and Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke, have enlisted 26 fellow members of Congress for a new coalition focused on immigration, crime and national security at the Canada-U.S. border.
Kelly and Zinke co-chair what they’re calling the “Northern Border Security Caucus” — a group billed as bipartisan, although it’s unclear just how many Democrats, if any, are taking part.
Members “are concerned about the increased human and drug trafficking, along with the decrease in border patrol agents and lack of security, along the U.S.-Canada border,” Kelly’s office said in a news release. “Recent news reports, along with data compiled over the past two years, show a surge in illegal migrant crossings and drug trafficking across the northern border.”
House Republicans expected to attend a launch event Tuesday include North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong, Minnesota Rep. Pete Stauber, Rep. Claudia Tenney of New York, Michigan Rep. Lisa
McClain and Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas.
Officials from the National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents U.S. Border Patrol agents, are also expected to attend Tuesday’s event, including vice-president and Fox News fixture Hector Garza.
Kelly and Zinke first began soliciting interest in the caucus back in January with an invitation to all members of Congress, known in Capitol Hill parlance as a “Dear Colleague” letter. But the rhetoric in that letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press, suggests the caucus is as much about attacking one of President Joe Biden’s weakest political flanks as it is about national security.
“Southern states have been overwhelmed with record illegal immigration, drug smuggling and crime that has continuously poured into the local communities. The Biden administration has sat back and watched these great states bear the brunt of disastrous and dangerous policies,” the letter reads.
“Understandably, all the attention has been on the southern border. Meanwhile, America’s northern border has been ignored all while quietly facing its own crises.”
Those challenges include what the letter describes as a “fifteenfold” increase in what U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials call “border encounters” in the last two years, as well as a spike in drug smuggling.
From October through January, the first four months of fiscal 2023, the agency recorded 55,736 encounters at or near the Canada-U.S. border.