Border Giveaway Fails in the Senate
Some 10 million people have crossed our borders illegally since President Biden took office three years ago, including nearly two million who are known to have evaded Border Patrol agents. The ongoing crisis represents a grave threat to our national security and is imposing unsustainable burdens on states and local governments. Public opinion has turned decidedly against the Biden administration’s disastrous open-borders policies and, in January, 14 House Democrats joined with their Republican colleagues in approving a resolution “denouncing the Biden administration’s open-borders policies, condemning the national security and public safety crisis along the southwest border, and urging President Biden to end his administration’s open-borders policies.”
In other words, Congress had its best opportunity to enact legislation that would force President Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to assert control over the border and end the abuse of our asylum laws, parole authority, and halt wholesale catch-and-release of illegal aliens. At the start of the year, the leadership of the House of Representatives reiterated their support for enacting H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act, by including it as part of a foreign aid package for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.
However, as the House was pushing for enactment of real border security and immigration enforcement, a Senate ‘Working Group’ was meeting behind closed doors on its own version of ‘border security.’ Three days before a key Senate vote on the foreign aid package, the Working Group unveiled a 370-page proposal billed as a bipartisan compromise on border security.
Working late into the night, FAIR’s legislative analysts found that there was virtually nothing in those 370 pages that would curb illegal immigration, secure our borders, stop abuse of asylum, or rein in the administration’s abuse of parole authority. In reality, it would have ratified ongoing illegal immigration at historically high levels. Just a few of the Working Group’s terrible provisions included:
- Illegal aliens would have continued to be released into the United States. In fact, the Senate deal would have created a whole new, “claim-and-release” process for asylum-seekers that actually encouraged asylum abuse.
- Provided only limited authority to expel illegal aliens. Mandatory expulsions would not have kicked in until illegal entries reached 5,000 a day over a seven-day period, while exempting entire categories of illegal aliens from being counted toward the triggering total.
- The president would have been permitted to continue granting parole to inadmissible aliens who present themselves at ports of entry, or those who apply to come directly from their home countries.
- Appropriated billions of dollars to NGOs and Homeland Security to continue the administration’s open-borders policies.
Even as millions of new illegal aliens would be ushered into the country, the proposal also included giveaways to special interests. Spouses and children of H-1B workers would be given employment authorization, while 50,000 additional green cards would be provided every year for five years.
The only thing compromised in the Senate ‘compromise’ proposal was the interests of the American people.
The final product had the blessings of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who designated Sen. James Lankford (Okla.) as the Republicans’ chief negotiator. But even McConnell turned against it, as members of his own caucus mutinied over what they correctly saw as a sell-out. In the end, the Senate Working Group’s proposal failed on procedural vote, 50-49. Only four Republican members voted in favor.
The fiasco was a squandered opportunity to address a border and illegal immigration crisis that is now the top issue of concern for American voters. Nevertheless, FAIR will continue to work with members of Congress who are committed to passing real border and immigration reforms in the coming weeks and months.