A growing number of Congressional Democrats are signaling their apprehensions about border and immigration policies included in a broader $118 billion supplemental spending bill covering various unrelated topics.
Democratic leadership in Congress has spoken favorably of the border and immigration proposals reached by bipartisan Senate negotiators. They have accused Republicans who criticized the deal of taking a “hard-right” and “extreme” position for demanding stricter limits on immigration. However, some Democrats argue that the border security bill limits immigration too much.
Ms. Barragán said there are “some good provisions” in the proposal but “many more that are not in line with our values.” Among her criticisms were claims that the border proposal removes due process safeguards in the U.S. asylum system. She also faulted the deal for not including legal pathways for illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens.
Ms. Barragán said she understood that Democrats who negotiated the bill were constrained by the conflicting border and immigration demands of their Republican counterparts and other contentious topics. The $118 billion spending supplemental bill includes approximately $60 billion in new U.S. aid for Ukraine. But, Ms. Barragán said, “We cannot just throw up our hands and accept bad immigration policies that gut asylum and could set back real bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform ten to fifteen years, for temporary aid.”
Like Ms. Barragán, Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas) also faulted the border deal for not including explicit pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants, including so-called “Dreamers”—who are non-citizens brought into the United States as children by illegal immigrant parents.
“Any bill that claims to address immigration and fails to include all Dreamers is unacceptable,” Ms. Garcia wrote in a Monday press statement, adding, “Real reform would include a pathway to citizenship for ALL Dreamers. With this bill, Dreamers have been betrayed by the Senate.”
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) criticized the Senate deal for not doing enough to provide citizenship to those illegally residing in the country and said, “major chunks of this legislation read like an enforcement wish list” Democrats might expect under a Republican administration like that of President Donald Trump.
Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) argued that the bill appears to reflect “Trump-era” immigration policies disfavored by many Democrats.
“The deal includes a new version of a failed Trump-era immigration policy that will cause more chaos at the border, not less. It is in conflict with our international treaties and obligations to provide people with the opportunity to seek asylum. It fails to address the root causes of migration. And it fails to provide relief for Dreamers, farm workers, and the other undocumented long-term residents of our country who contribute billions to our economy, work in essential jobs, and make America stronger,” Mr. Padilla said in a Monday press statement.
Congressional GOP Unsatisfied With Border Security Provisions
On Monday, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) proclaimed the immigration and border proposals offered on the Senate side to be a nonstarter.
“Any consideration of this Senate bill in its current form is a waste of time. It is DEAD on arrival in the House,” Mr. Johnson wrote.
Speaking with NTD’s “Capitol Report” on Tuesday, Rep. Josh Brecheen (R-Okla) expressed a criticism shared by many rank-and-file Congressional Republicans, that the bill does too little to stop the flow of illegal border crossings.
“Many of us are absolutely convinced that we have to have a finality, a seal of the border, no more tolerance of heightened numbers of illegal immigration,” Mr. Brecheen said. “We can talk about visas, and we can talk about green cards, and legal structures, but it has to be after we get a salve to the border, when we seal the border.”
In a Monday press statement, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the overall supplemental spending bill will directly address U.S. security challenges and said “it’s now time for Congress to take action.”
Other Republican Senate leaders have expressed more skepticism that the supplemental spending bill will move along quickly.
When asked on Tuesday about the chances the Senate will pass a motion to end debate and vote on the spending supplemental by Wednesday, Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told The Hill “it’s unlikely” because Republican Senators “want more time to evaluate” the proposal.
Republican Senate Conference Chair John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) credited the Republican negotiator on the Senate border deal, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), for working “relentlessly” but said President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats “failed him and failed the country” and the border proposal they eventually reached “doesn’t meet most Americans’ standard of securing our border.”
That the border and immigration components of the $118 billion spending supplemental are being attacked from both ends of the spectrum of political debate poses challenges for the bill’s passage in a divided government.
Schumer, Jeffries Seek to Blame Republicans, Assure Wavering Democrats
Amid the primarily Republican pushback on the Senate border deal, Democratic Congressional leaders have accused their counterparts on the other side of the political aisle of moving the goalposts on the border security and immigration policy.
“For years, years, our Republican colleagues have demanded we fix the border, and all along they said it should be done through legislation. Only recently did they change that, when it looked like we might actually produce legislation,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in remarks on the Senate floor on Monday. “Well, we are producing legislation in a bipartisan way, and now, unfortunately, many on the hard-right are turning their back on this package. Everyone is asking the same question: are MAGA Republicans serious about fixing the border or is this merely political?”
“For months, the extreme MAGA Republicans were demanding that Democrats sit down and have a discussion about ways to address the challenges at the border under the leadership of Senator Schumer. That’s exactly what has happened, and now, because the House Republicans have been ordered by Donald Trump not to do anything to fix our broken immigration system, they are walking away from the issue, and in doing so, they’re walking away from the American people.”
When asked to address the criticisms of the bill coming from those on the political left like Ms. Barragán and Mr. Padilla, the Democratic House Minority Leader said, “We’re going to sit down over
the next few days and have a conversation about the path forward in terms of fixing our broken immigration system and addressing the challenges at the border.”
In his Monday floor remarks, Mr. Schumer said if Democrats had not had to negotiate with Republicans on the supplemental spending bill, it “of course would look different.”
“But we live in an era of divided government, and that means that both sides have to compromise if we want to pass a bill. This bipartisan agreement is not perfect, but given all the dangers facing America, it is the comprehensive package our country needs right now,” Mr. Schumer concluded.