House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tried to criticize the White House’s border policy Tuesday, but it ended up sounding more like a compliment.
Or worse, a campaign ad for Joe Biden.
McCarthy was talking to reporters after an Oval Office meeting on debt ceiling negotiations when he mentioned that an Afghan national on the U.S. government’s terrorist watchlist was recently arrested while seeking to cross the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego.
“Why?” he asked, before launching into his attempted attack on Biden’s border policy.
“We caught more people in the month of February on the terrorist watchlist than we caught the entire time of the last administration,” he said.
The government typically uses the number of border apprehensions as a proxy for how many people are attempting to enter the country without authorization, so it’s not unusual, particularly for Republicans, to frame more apprehensions as a sign that the border is out of control.
But while the House speaker’s fiery rhetoric might have appealed to some, many noted that apprehending more people who are potential threats actually seems like a good thing.
Consequently, McCarthy set himself up for a whole bunch of Twitter mockery.
Chad Gilmartin, the deputy spokesman for McCarthy, insisted to HuffPost that the increase in apprehensions doesn’t necessarily equate to overall success, since, he said, “at least 1.5 million illegal immigrant ‘gotaways’ have evaded capture” after entering the U.S. under Biden’s tenure.
“Who would argue that over 175 terrorism suspects crossing our border is a positive trend?” he added.
The House speaker isn’t the first politician to get pushback for his comments on border enforcement
In July 2021, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) tried to criticize the Biden administration for seizing “enough fentanyl to kill 238 million Americans” at the southern border the previous month.
Biggs was then thoroughly mocked online for suggesting that he was upset about the successful interception of the highly addictive drug.