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(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker Mike Johnson on Wednesday led a delegation of 64 Republicans in a trip to the southern border as the GOP seeks to ramp up election-year pressure on President Joe Biden and Democrats to reach a deal on immigration restrictions.

The group toured the Eagle Pass, Texas, port of entry and held an afternoon news conference, during which the GOP lawmakers continued their demands for tougher restrictions and criticism of President Biden amid the tumult at the southwest border.

“It’s been an eye opener,” Johnson said at the news conference. “One thing is absolutely clear: America is at a breaking point with record levels of illegal immigration and today we got a firsthand look at the damage and the chaos the border catastrophe is causing in all of our communities. The situation here and across the country is truly unconscionable.”

Johnson called it a “disaster of the president’s own design.”

President Biden, returning to Washington late Tuesday, put the onus on Republicans to agree to bipartisan legislation to fund immigration operations.

“We gotta do something,” he told reporters when asked about the situation at the southwest border. “They ought to give me the money I need to protect the border.”

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates, in a statement early Wednesday, slammed Republicans for blocking Biden’s request for funding and leaving Washington for holiday recess without a resolution.

“In fact, right now, instead of joining the Biden Administration and members of both parties in the Senate to find common ground, Speaker Johnson is continuing to block President Biden’s proposed funding to hire thousands of new Border Patrol agents, hire more asylum officers and immigration judges, provide local communities hosting migrants additional grant funding, and invest in cutting edge technology that is critical to stopping deadly fentanyl from entering our country,” Bates said.

The Biden administration has put forth a supplemental funding request that includes nearly $14 billion for the border as well as aid for Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine. The border provisions would include money to hire more border agents and immigration judge teams. Republicans have been insistent on tying the aid to more sweeping border changes, including tougher asylum protocols.

“If President Biden wants a supplemental spending bill focused on national security, it better begin by defending America’s national security,” Johnson said, which prompted a “here here” and “that’s right” from other members in attendance.

Johnson, who contended Biden can act unilaterally without legislation to make border changes, called for the administration to reinstate former President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy and other provisions. He also called H.R. 2 — the GOP immigration bill passed by the House last year that would restart border wall construction and more — the “necessary ingredient.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier Wednesday hit Republicans for continually pointing to H.R. 2, which Democrats have rejected as “draconian.”

Rep. Jim Jordan, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, went so far as to say “no money” should be used “to process or release into the country any new migrants.”

“We should put that one sentence in must-pass legislation,” Jordan said.

The influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border is fueling a fierce immigration debate that will be a central campaign message for Republicans in 2024.

The U.S.-Mexico border saw a record number of migrant encounters in December. Sources told ABC News that preliminary data showed there were 302,000 encounters last month alone — an increase from the 242,416 encounters in November and 240,9988 in October.

Though the White House announced Tuesday it was reopening the Eagle Pass port of entry along with three others in Arizona and California due to the drop in migrant encounters in recent days.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, House Republicans are moving ahead with their effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

The House Homeland Security Committee is expected to hold its first hearing on Jan. 10, a spokesperson for the panel confirmed to ABC News. The committee, which has conducted a yearlong probe into Mayorkas, is seeking to impeach him for his handling of and his role in the “unprecedented crisis at the Southwest border.”

Responding to the committee’s proceedings, a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson told ABC News the GOP majority is “wasting valuable time and taxpayer dollars pursuing a baseless political exercise.”

Mayorkas has been involved in the congressional negotiations over border provisions, and recently traveled to Mexico City with Secretary of State Antony Blinken to meet with the country’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador and their Mexican counterparts behind closed doors to address urgent immigration issues.

Key Senate negotiators returned to Washington on Tuesday to continue talks on the supplemental aid package, sources familiar with the discussions told ABC News. The rest of Congress isn’t due back until next week.

Biden administration officials, in a press call Tuesday, said talks are “moving in the right direction.”

Schumer also said Wednesday that progress was being made, but noted “this is a very difficult issue” with challenges to overcome.

He also appeared to knock the Republican delegation to Texas, saying it was “nice” to go to the border “but the way to get something done is work as we are in the Senate on a bipartisan solution to the border crisis, which will then unlock money for Ukraine, Israel, the Indo-Pacific and humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza.”

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