U.S. Senators in both parties have finalized a deal on stricter border and immigration policies that is headed toward an uncertain floor vote in the coming days.
The $118 billion agreement, which was released Sunday afternoon and negotiated for months, would tighten the standard for migrants to receive asylum, automatically shut down the southern border to illegal crossings if migrant encounters hit certain daily benchmarks, and send billions of dollars to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan as well as the border.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to hold a procedural vote to advance the package Wednesday, though it’s unclear if the legislation has the necessary 60 votes to clear the chamber. About 20 to 25 Republican senators are ready to evaluate the specifics and a similar number are leaning against the deal, according to lead GOP negotiator Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.). At least a handful of Democrats are also expected to vote against it.
President Joe Biden praised the agreement in a Sunday night statement that called on Congress to send it to his desk: “If you believe, as I do, that we must secure the border now, doing nothing is not an option,” Biden said.
The border-foreign aid deal faces even more difficult odds in the House. Speaker Mike Johnson said on NBC’s Meet The Press on Sunday that the House would take up a $17 billion Israel aid bill instead of the supplemental funding package. In a Saturday letter to House Republicans, Johnson had said the chamber would not swiftly consider the bipartisan deal.
Lankford and GOP allies hope that the release of the text will dispel the notion that the bill would allow 5,000 undocumented immigrants to cross into the country daily. Under the parameters of the legislation and the current situation at the border, which sees crossings sometimes exceeding 10,000 per day, the border would be shut down for illegal crossings immediately.
The bill would preserve orderly asylum appointments at ports of entry as a way for immigrants to seek legal entry into the country, requiring that those ports process at least 1,400 migrants daily during periods when the border is shut down.
In addition to mandating a border shutdown at 5,000 daily encounters, the bill would allow the president to invoke that authority at 4,000 per day. Once the border is shut it would stay sealed to illegal crossings until encounters of unlawful crossings drop to about 2,000 per day. In addition, the use of presidential parole authority, which gives the president wider latitude to allow more undocumented immigrants into the country, would be curtailed. And the bill speeds up the asylum screening process significantly.
San Miguel Times