Majority Leader Schumer Announces Senate May Debate Foreign Aid, Border Security Next Week
FAIR Take | November 2023
Over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Schumer released a public letter calling on Congress to fund the Biden Administration’s $106 billion supplemental budget request without crucial border security policy changes. Schumer’s letter comes just two weeks after Congress passed a Continuing Resolution to fund the government through the end of January. That continuing resolution kept the administration’s funding priorities in place, without any reforms to immigration policy.
The Biden Administration’s supplemental budget request does include $13.6 billion in border funding. However, that funding would support the processing and release of more illegal aliens into the country rather than detaining those aliens, reforming asylum, or limiting the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary’s parole authority.
In his letter, Majority Leader Schumer dismissed the need to make serious policy changes to our immigration system. Instead, he characterized the ongoing discussions over border security as a partisan distraction that threatens to derail America’s national security goals in Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific region. “The biggest holdup to the national security assistance package right now is the insistence by our Republican colleagues on partisan border policy as a condition for vital Ukraine aid. This has injected a decades old, hyper-partisan issue into overwhelmingly bipartisan priorities,” Schumer said. “Democrats stand ready to work on common-sense solutions to address immigration, but purely partisan hard-right demands, like those in H.R. 2, jeopardize the entire national security supplemental package.”
However, Schumer’s determination to maintain the status quo ignores critical national security threats at our own borders. Since President Biden took office, the number of suspects on the FBI’s terrorist watchlist apprehended attempting enter to the country illegally has skyrocketed, moving from just 3 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 to 172 in FY23. Likewise, over 70,000 Special Interest Aliens were encountered by U.S. border agents between October 2021 and October 2023, including 6,386 Afghans, 3,153 Egyptians, 659 Iranians, and 538 Syrians. And last fiscal year set a record at more than 3.2 million illegal aliens apprehended, with the latest figures bringing the total number of illegal aliens encountered under President Biden to nearly eight million, along with at least 1.7 million “gotaways” that evaded the Border Patrol.
Majority Leader Schumer announced in his letter that the Senate will consider the Biden Administration’s supplemental request as early as next week. However, some Senate Republicans, have said they will not approve additional funding for our immigration agencies without meaningful policy changes to help stem the tidal wave of illegal immigration taking place at our southern border. On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said, “We want to secure our border. We want to stop the flow of illegal immigrants in this country and the crime and the drugs and potential terrorism it could open this country up to.” He added, “In return for providing additional funding for Ukraine, we have to have significant and substantial reforms to our border policy, specifically asylum and parole, the processes that are being abused at our border for millions of illegal migrants to come into this country over the last three years.”
On Monday, Senate Minority Leader McConnell echoed Senator Cotton in a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter). “America faces grave national security challenges, beginning at home on our southern border. To pass the Senate, supplemental legislation to address threats from Iran, Russia, and China must also include serious policy changes to bring Washington Democrats’ border crisis under control.”
Fortunately, the Senate already has a blueprint to secure our borders and solve the crisis: H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act, which the House of Representatives passed in May. Failure to act now, in the face of unprecedented illegal immigration and terror threats, would be a fundamental betrayal of the American people. Platitudes and more money to process in illegal aliens are not acceptable – Congress must ensure that real policy changes are implemented to put an end to the Biden Border Crisis.
To learn more about FAIR’s efforts to ensure border security measures are included in any government spending package, visit our activist toolkit here.