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GOP rebuttals to Biden's State of the Union focus on the border and immigration

Alabama GOP Sen. Kate Britt, left, and Texas Rep. Mónica De La Cruz delivered rebuttals to President Biden's State of the Union.
Screenshot by NPR
Alabama GOP Sen. Kate Britt, left, and Texas Rep. Mónica De La Cruz delivered rebuttals to President Biden's State of the Union.

The U.S.-Mexico border was a top talking point in the rebuttal speeches given by Sen. Katie Britt, R-Ala., and Rep. Mónica De La Cruz, R-Texas, following President Biden's State of the Union address Thursday night.

Britt reiterated the GOP argument that Biden created a "border crisis" and echoed her colleagues in using the death of Georgia student Laken Riley as an example of a crime committed by someone who has crossed the border. An undocumented Venezuelan immigrant has been arrested for the crime.

"That could've been my daughter. It could've been yours," Britt said. "Tonight, President Biden finally said her name. But he refused to take responsibility for his own actions."

The sentiment was also shared in the Spanish-language rebuttal given by De La Cruz. Read her rebuttal — in both English and Spanish.

"You don't have to look any further than the border to see the disaster that Biden has caused," De La Cruz said, also using Riley's death in her speech. "At the beginning of his term, he stopped enforcing our laws."

Immigration has bubbled as a top political issue over the past several months, with both Biden and former President Donald Trump visiting the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas, the congressional Republican-led effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over what they say was the Biden administration's system to parole migrants and a killed attempt at a border deal. Coming into the State of the Union address, Biden was greeted by GOP member Marjorie Taylor Green, R-Ga., who handed him a "Laken Riley" pin and others who wore red "Stop the Biden Border Crisis" buttons.

But both rebuttal speeches also focused on broader political themes such as threats to U.S. national security from China, inflation and the closing question to viewers: "Are you better off now than you were three years ago?"

"Republicans support working families who care about their children's education. We want safe communities, a strong economy and secure borders," De La Cruz added.

Rep. Mónica De La Cruz
/ Rep. Mónica De La Cruz/Screenshot by NPR
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Rep. Mónica De La Cruz/Screenshot by NPR
Rep. Mónica De La Cruz

She ended with a nod to Trump's campaign slogan: "Our country can be great again if we return to our values, like opportunity and faith."

Britt specifically addresses IVF and TikTok

Britt also voiced support for IVF, a procedure that has been in legal limbo in her state, stating: "And we want families to grow. It's why we strongly support continued nationwide access to in vitro fertilization. We want to help loving moms and dads bring precious life into this world."

Britt also called out Biden on TikTok, the popular social media app owned by Chinese company ByteDance.

The White House said this week they're backing a bill in Congress that would allow the president to ban TikTok unless it severs ties with ByteDance, citing national security concerns over the company's use of data.

The president has already signed a law that bans the app on government devices. But that hasn't stopped Biden from joining the platform for his campaign. Last month"BidenHQ" joined TikTok, in an attempt to reach younger voters.

"He bans TikTok for government employees, but creates an account for his own campaign," Britt said. "You can't make this stuff up."

Earlier in her remarks, Britt said the Chinese Communist Party was "spreading propaganda" through TikTok. "The CCP knows that if it conquers the minds of our next generation, it conquers America."

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.
Deepa Shivaram
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.