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Biden, Senate pitch border deal to House

Bipartisan negotiators unveiled a new bill to address illegal immigration

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla. chief negotiator and architect of the Senate border and foreign aid package at the Capitol in Washington, Monday Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite

Biden, Senate pitch border deal to House

On Sunday evening, U.S. Senate leadership unveiled a compromise border security proposal that was months in the making. Leaders in the House of Representatives rejected it before the night was over.

“I’ve seen enough,” House Speaker Mike Johnson posted Sunday evening on X, formerly known as Twitter. “This bill is even worse than we expected and won’t come close to ending the border catastrophe the president has created.”

As part of a $118 billion national security package with aid to Ukraine, Taiwan, and Israel, the bill seeks to increase border funding and personnel, limit the administration’s use of catch-and-release parole, tweak the asylum system, and construct more of the southern border wall. Its chief negotiator and architect, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said the plan is a rare shot at making a substantive difference on the southern border.

“Our immigration laws have been weak for years,” Lankford said in a statement released on Sunday night. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to close our open border and give future administrations the effective tools they need to stop the border chaos and protect our nation.”

Results from a Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll last Monday indicate that 35 percent of respondents see immigration as the nation’s top issue, outpacing the 32 percent of Americans who said rising prices were their number one concern.

“Usually the economy is most important because it captures a variety of issues like inflation, unemployment, and wages,” said Jared Pincin, an associate professor of economics at Cedarville University. “Immigration or border security are specific issues. Specific issues, on average, poll lower—outside of high-profile circumstances.”

Johnson blasted the Biden administration’s handling of border security in his first floor speech as House speaker.

“If you’re watching the metrics in 2023, the Obama administration detained 82 percent of illegal aliens. How did we go from detaining 82 percent to releasing 85?” Johnson said, referencing the administration’s catch-and-release metrics. “Since President Biden assumed office there have been more than 7 million encounters with illegal aliens just at our southern border alone. Thirty-five of our 50 states don’t have a population that large. Yet that’s how many people have been apprehended in just the past three years.”

Recently, President Joe Biden has shifted his tone on border policies, going so far as to say he would ‘close the border’ if given congressional authority to do so. Republicans argued the president already had that authority but lacked the will to exercise it.

“For too long, we all know that the border’s been broken. It’s long past time to fix it,” Biden said of the Senate proposal. “What’s been negotiated would—if passed into law—be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country.”

Johnson has called on Democrats to pass a Republican-led bill called HR 2. The package would expand construction on the border wall, shrink asylum eligibility, impose stiffer penalties for overstaying a visa, and strengthen the government’s deportation authority. While similar to the Senate bill, many of the measures in the House bill go further.

Some Republicans have pushed back on Johnson for seemingly dismissing the Senate’s efforts out-of-hand. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, blasted Republicans who had already made up their minds, saying he wants time to review the legislation.

“Unfortunately there’s a lot of emotion about this border deal and no analysis of the facts by people who should know better,” Crenshaw said in a post on X. “Many people (who are apparently very fast readers) have already tweeted completely false statements about the legislation. I will not reactively be against something that I haven’t examined closely and that actually decreases illegal immigration.”

“I ran my first campaign on border security, and I meant it,” he added.

Leo Briceno

Leo is a WORLD politics reporter based in Washington, D.C. He’s a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and has a degree in political journalism from Patrick Henry College.


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