Joe Biden urges Congress to pass comprehensive border reform during State of the Union

Feb 7, 2023, 8:44 PM | Updated: 10:33 pm

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress as ...

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress as Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) listen on February 7, 2023 in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. The speech marks Biden's first address to the new Republican-controlled House. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — President Joe Biden used his State of the Union address Tuesday night to urge Republicans and Democrats to work together on issues including the border.

He called on the divided Congress to come together to pass bipartisan immigration legislation and touted developments at the border from the past month after taking criticism for much of his presidency.

“We now have a record number of personnel working to secure the border, arresting 8,000 human smugglers and seizing over 23,000 pounds of fentanyl in just the last several months,” Biden said. 

“We launched our new border plan last month, unlawful migration from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela has come down 97% as a consequence of that.”

A surge in Cuban and Nicaraguan arrivals at the U.S. border with Mexico in December led to the highest number of illegal border crossings recorded during any month of Biden’s presidency.

The White House countered with a plan for new enforcement measures to increase security at the border and expand legal pathways for migration.

The president visited the border for the first time in office on Jan. 8 in El Paso, Texas.

Biden instructed Congress to at the very least provide equipment and officers to the border for greater security and create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those on temporary statuses, farmers and essential workers.

“Here in the people’s house, it’s our duty to protect all the people’s rights and freedoms,” Biden said.


Biden also addressed the fentanyl crisis, which continues to be an epidemic.

He told the story of a guest at the Capitol that is becoming more common.

“Joining us tonight is a father named Doug from Newton, New Hampshire,” Biden said. “He wrote Jill and me a letter about his daughter Courtney. … He shared a story all too familiar to millions of Americans. Courtney discovered pills in high school. It spiraled into addiction and eventually death from a fentanyl overdose. She was just 20 years old.

“He told us he wants to start the journey towards America’s recovery.”

Just last month, Glendale police seized more than 16,000 fentanyl pills during one bust.

Biden said fentanyl is killing more than 70,000 Americans each year and called for a major surge to stop fentanyl production, sale and trafficking.

Several Republicans shouted, “Border,” as Biden spoke about fentanyl, with one yelling, “It’s your fault.” Senate Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy even motioned to shoosh fellow Republicans who were heckling.

After pausing briefly, Biden called for more drug detection machines to inspect cargo halt entry of pills at the border.

“Working with couriers like FedEx to inspect more packages for drugs,” Biden said. “Strong penalties to crack down on fentanyl trafficking.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Joe Biden urges Congress to pass comprehensive border reform during State of the Union