GOP shifts focus of attacks on Biden's immigration policy to Canada-U.S. border

WASHINGTON — A group of Republicans on Capitol Hill is turning its gaze towards Canada as it ramps up political criticism of President Joe Biden's immigration strategy.

Rep. Mike Kelly from Pennsylvania and Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke are launching a new congressional caucus focused on immigration, crime and national security at the Canada-U.S. border.

The "Northern Border Security Caucus," to be officially announced Tuesday, is being billed as bipartisan, although it's unclear if any of its 28 members are Democrats.

Republicans in Congress are usually far more focused on the U.S.-Mexico border, where illegal immigration is one of the Biden administration's weakest political flanks.

But that may be changing, thanks to a steady increase in the number of "encounters" being reported at or near the Canadian frontier with people in the country illegally.

From October through January, U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded 55,736 such encounters, more than half of the total number from the 2022 fiscal year.

Caucus 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 Tuesday's launch 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.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2023.

The Canadian Press