Three senators met behind closed doors to reach what they consider to be a bi-partisan compromise on the sticky situation at the border. The bill, crafted by Senators James Lankford (R-Okla.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), is an attempt to overhaul border security and migration policies. The proposed measures include raising the standard for asylum eligibility, expediting asylum case processing within six months or less, and deporting those who fail to qualify for asylum. In addition, they have proposed billions of dollars in foreign aid.
Their proposed bill faces challenges in the Senate, requiring a minimum of 60 votes to overcome potential filibusters. Conservative senators, influenced by former President Donald Trump, have mobilized against the deal. At the same time, some progressives and members of the Hispanic Caucus express concerns that Democrats may be conceding too much and feel excluded from negotiations.
On the surface, it seems to be a bi-partisan grand slam. But a closer look reveals exactly why House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has declared the proposed bill “dead on arrival.”
The bill sets aside $20 billion to “enhance and expand border security efforts,” coinciding with a surge in arrests for illegal crossings at the US-Mexican border. President Joe Biden could close the border if average daily crossings surpass 4,000 in a week if passed. The threshold for mandatory closure increases to 5,000 average daily crossings or a single-day total exceeding 8,500.
Additionally, the bill seeks to streamline the asylum review process by funding more asylum officers while tightening eligibility criteria for asylum claims. The bill maintains Biden’s discretion to grant parole case-by-case and authorizes an extra 250,000 immigrant visas over the next five years.
House Speaker Mike Johnson labeled the proposal “dead on arrival,” citing various concerns, including a lack of focus on true border security, inadequate solutions for immigration challenges, and the absence of any language about “Dreamers.”
The Senate’s border deal encompasses detailed foreign aid provisions targeting several regions, addressing Ukraine, Israel, Asia-Pacific allies, and humanitarian efforts.
Ukraine would receive a substantial $60 billion aid package to support its “sovereignty, security, and stability.” The aid focuses on bolstering Ukraine’s defense capabilities, providing humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by conflict, and strengthening security cooperation with the U.S.
Meanwhile, Israel is slated to receive $14 billion in military aid, reinforcing the strategic partnership between the U.S. and Israel and enhancing defense capabilities through funding for advanced military equipment and joint defense programs.
In Asia-Pacific, nearly $5 billion is directed toward U.S. allies, including Japan and South Korea, to promote security cooperation and stability and counter shared threats. Additionally, $10 billion is designated for humanitarian efforts, extending support to regions like Gaza, where civilians face ongoing challenges due to conflict, focusing on providing essential services, relief, and support to vulnerable populations.
The immigration deal has prompted mixed reactions among Republicans, with some criticizing efforts to derail it and labeling such opposition as “immoral” and “solely for political reasons.” Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) prioritized solving the border problem over political maneuvering. At the same time, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) urged colleagues to prioritize “sound policy over politics.” Former President Donald Trump’s vocal opposition to the deal has influenced some conservatives who fear repercussions from voters who support the current GOP frontrunner.
Concerns about border security persist, with Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) highlighting the necessity for a deal that effectively secures the border without any loopholes. The Republican Party remains divided on whether to accept or reject the deal, with some believing it falls short of sealing the border while others feel it’s essential to address the issue quickly and in a “bi-partisan” way.
House Speaker Johnson has shared his thoughts on the Senate’s border deal, shaped by recent visits to the border with colleagues. He expressed his doubts that the bill would deter illegal immigration in any meaningful way and has mentioned that he isn’t ready to support a border deal soon. He shares former President Donald Trump’s belief that any legislation addressing the border should offer comprehensive solutions.
While Biden pleads for Congress to fix the crisis he created, the administration knows that the same pen he used to destroy the border security America enjoyed under Trump could be used to end it. But that defeats the purpose. Biden is holding fast to former President Barack Obama’s pledge to “fundamentally change the country” …one illegal immigrant at a time.