By Federation for American Immigration Reform
With a foreign aid package scheduled to hit the Senate floor as early as this week, eleven Senate Democrats issued a joint statement to demand that any agreement to tighten U.S. asylum laws and improve border security also include an amnesty for illegal aliens. The Democrats who signed the statement included Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Alex Padilla (D. Calif.), Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship and Border Safety. They were joined by Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
The statement signals the concern that some Democrats have about ongoing negotiations in the Senate, where Republicans have demanded that negotiators include meaningful immigration policy changes as part of a foreign aid package that would spend billions on Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. It reads: “As negotiations surrounding the supplemental aid package progress, we are concerned about reports of harmful changes to our asylum system that will potentially deny lifesaving humanitarian protection for vulnerable people, including children, and fail to deliver any meaningful improvement to the situation at the border.” Ironically, the statement also criticizes Republicans for seeking immigration policy changes as part of the foreign aid package, saying that the addition of policy provisions to the aid package would set a dangerous precedent and forsake our allies. Yet, at the same time, these Democrats are demanding amnesty.
By issuing the stern statement, the Senators hope to rein in their Democrat colleagues negotiating the immigration provisions and ultimately stop them from making meaningful changes to the law. The Democrats’ negotiators include Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.). The Republican negotiators include Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).
Senators Durbin, Padilla and others promoting open borders are beginning to feel the heat as the White House ramps up pressure for Congress to act on the foreign aid package. On Friday, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters, “We want to see all four priorities taken up by Congress and all four funded. The reason why it’s a supplemental is because they’re all urgent. And as I said earlier, we’re running out of runway on Ukraine, and I would tell you the same thing for Israel.”
Early last week, Biden press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Administration has “had conversations with members of Congress” regarding the supplemental request. Jean-Pierre strongly objected to H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act, but did not comment specifically on the negotiations. According to the Associated Press, the Biden Administration is not overtly involved in the negotiations on Capitol Hill, but it has not told Democrats not to make a deal with the Republicans. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has been on calls with senators of both parties in recent days as talks continue.
With immigration on the table, the question now is whether Senate Republicans will hold the line and demand real reforms, such as the provisions found in H.R. 2, or whether they will be satisfied with half measures that sound good on paper, but have little impact on the crisis. For his part, Senator Thom Tillis has signaled he will not support a border security package that does not garner support from at least 25 Republican senators.
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— Chuck Callesto (@ChuckCallesto) December 4, 2023
EDITORS NOTE: This FAIR column is republished with permission. © COPYRIGHT 2023 FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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