American people ‘exhausted’ by lawmakers ‘kicking the ball’ on immigration: Border town mayor

Democrats and Republicans alike caved to election year politics and refused to compromise on the recently revealed and defeated bipartisan border security bill, said a Texas border mayor who believed the failed legislation would “stop the bleeding.”

“I think either party, their actions are because it’s an election year,” McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos told Fox News. “The American people, our Border Patrol, they’re exhausted. They’re tired of this.”

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Lawmakers are “just kicking the ball and trying to do whatever they can, but for the purposes of politics, not for the purpose of benefiting the American people,” he added. 

A long-awaited bipartisan border security deal aimed at stemming the historic flow of migrants crossing the southern border was released Sunday night, but quickly faced fierce opposition from Republicans in both chambers. The deal collapsed, however, after a key vote on the bill failed 49-50, with all but four Republicans opposing.

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President Biden, whose administration has overseen record numbers of migrant encounters at the southern border, blamed former President Trump for sabotaging the bill and threatening lawmakers with retribution if they backed the legislation. Trump, for his part, used his influence over Republicans up for re-election to urge them to reject the border deal. 

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But Villalobos blamed both men for failing to enact real change alongside lawmakers.

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“I don’t trust many people at all anymore,” Villalobos said. “At the time that President Trump was there, [Republicans] had the majority and nothing occurred. Now you have Biden. Nothing is occurring until very close to the election.”

Among Republicans’ many criticisms of the $118 billion spending package, House GOP leaders said the bill incentivized more illegal immigration and didn’t include aggressive enough measures to secure the border. House Speaker Mike Johnson repeatedly called the bill “dead on arrival” after the Senate bill was released. 

The bill provided $20 billion for immigration enforcement, including hiring Border Patrol agents and officers to evaluate asylum claims, along with $650 million for border wall construction and reinforcement. It also gave Biden and the Department of Homeland Security authority to close the border if migrant encounters hit 5,000 over a seven-day average or 8,500 in one day. 

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“We finally had a bill that at least would kind of stop the bleeding,” Villalobos said. “But unfortunately … nothing’s going to happen because of the election.”

“Take care of the American people first and set politics aside,” Villalobos added. “We know we have issues. Let’s take care of them. Probably after this next election we can solve it.”

Ramiro Vargas contributed to the accompanying video.