The GOP-led House on Thursday passed its first major border security bill since gaining control of the lower chamber, timed to coincide with the end of a pandemic-era policy tightening border control.
The bill passed 219-213 almost entirely along party lines – all but two Republicans voted in favor and every Democrat against. Two Democrats and one Republican did not vote.
The bill faces strong headwinds in the Senate, where due to Democrats’ narrow majority it is not likely to pass.
How it works: The GOP’s Secure the Border Act would restore construction on a southwest border wall and hinder asylum access. It would also cut a program that lets U.S. officials quickly accept or turn back some migrants from Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba and Nicaragua, who can apply to come to the U.S. for two years legally and work. Ukrainian refugees could also be impacted, in theory, since they are in the U.S. under the same type of agreement.
Why now?: The vote comes as Title 42 is set to end at 11:59 p.m. Thursday when the pandemic public health emergency is terminated. The policy allowed Customs and Border Protection to turn migrants away in an effort to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in holding facilities.
Because a wave of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. are expected at the southwest border with the policy’s end, the Pentagon is deploying 1,500 active-duty troops to help U.S. Customs and Border Patrol manage the expected surge.
What the Senate wants: The Senate is proposing its own bill, which has bipartisan support and is led by Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz. Their bill, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, would give the Biden administration a two-year extension on the functions of Title 42. It would allow the administration to expel migrants, but it would not be tied to a public health emergency like Title 42.
Why this matters: Members of Congress, including some in the president’s Democratic Party, have complained the Biden administration has no real plan for addressing the end of Title 42 and ongoing border crisis. They say their plans offer a solution in the absence of strong leadership.
What McCarthy is saying: “More than 11,000 migrants were caught yesterday crossing the border illegally, the highest single day total ever,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on the chamber floor Wednesday. “This is President Biden’s record on the border. Record crossings. Record carelessness. Record chaos.”
Senate Democrats respond: Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., criticized the administration for sending 1,500 troops to the border
“The Administration has had over two years to plan for the eventual end of this Trump-era policy in a way that does not compromise our values as a country,” he said in a statement. “I have offered them a strategic and comprehensive plan, which they have largely ignored. Trying to score political points or intimidate migrants by sending the military to the border caters to the Republican Party’s xenophobic attacks on our asylum system.”
Manchin, a Democrat up for reelection in a red state, said: “It is truly a shame we continue to govern from crisis to crisis. Despite ample notice about the pending expiration of Title 42, the Administration has failed to properly secure our southern border. The immigration crisis is only getting worse and our broken immigration system is ill-equipped to handle it.”
What Biden said: Biden on Tuesday said the border situation will be “chaotic for a while.” In New York on Wednesday, he said there has been “chaos at the border for a number of years.”
Part of the solution is to “fully fund the border security effort,” he said.
“The purpose of what we’re doing now is making legal immigration more streamlined, illegal immigration shorter term and moved — and moving in a direction that people know that there’s a legal way to get here and not legal way. That is what’s underway now.”
What can the bill expect in the Senate?: Following the bill’s passage by a narrow Republican majority, it is headed to the Senate where it faces an uphill battle thanks to Democrats’ narrow majority. If the bill makes it to President Joe Biden’s desk, he will veto it.
“While we welcome Congress’ engagement on meaningful steps to address immigration and the challenges at the border, this (House) bill would make things worse, not better,” reads a Monday statement from the White House Office of Management and Budget. “Because this bill does very little to actually increase border security while doing a great deal to trample on the nation’s core values and international obligations, it should be rejected.”
- Amreen Rashid Prity With over 04 years of experience in the field of journalism, Amreen Rashid Prity heads the editorial operations of the JK News Live as a Editor and she is also a Blogger.
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