The White House and Senate Democrats are dismissing a Republican proposal to implement sweeping border security measures and asylum limits to solve the ongoing crisis at the southern border as a “total non-starter.”
A Senate Republican working group on Monday released a series of measures that are largely drawn from the House GOP signature border and immigration legislation, H.R. 2, passed in the Republican-controlled House earlier this year. The measures would be a condition for Republicans to agree to a $105 billion request for aid for Ukraine and Israel – which also includes $14 billion for border operations.
The Senate proposal would require Homeland Security to resume construction of the border wall, which was abruptly ended by the Biden administration in 2021. It would also mandate DNA collection and push for Border Patrol retention by increasing overtime and improving recruiting.
The bill would also see significant restrictions in the federal government’s ability to release migrants into the interior, and would bar DHS from using class-based criteria to use humanitarian parole – which is used to parole thousands of migrants, including 1,450 a day via the CBP One app, every day. The authority has also been used to parole tens of thousands of Afghans and Ukrainians.
The proposals would also raise the “credible fear” standard used to initially judge an asylum claim, would tighten asylum limits for those who have traveled through third countries without claiming asylum, and would make migrants ineligible for asylum if they have committed felonies or serious crimes.
The proposals also include a requirement that DHS keeps families in custody while charges for illegal crossings are pending – a move designed to prevent migrants bringing children with them to secure a quicker release from custody due to current limits on how long minors can be detained.
The proposals were introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla.
“We must make policy changes to reduce the flow of immigration. The world is on fire and threats to our homeland are at an all-time high,” Graham said in a statement. “President Biden’s border policies are not working and it’s time to change course. Our proposal makes the necessary changes that our country needs at this critical time.”
“President Biden’s immigration policies have put American workers last and exposed our communities to crime and terrorism. This border package will cut off the flow of illegal migration, prioritize legitimate claims to entry, and restore order,” Cotton said.
But the plans were immediately rejected by the White House, although it kept the door open for a “serious conversation” on immigration.
“President Biden supports comprehensive reforms to our immigration system. That is why on his first day in office, he sent a bill to Congress to address it,” White House spokesperson Angelo Fernandez Hernandez said in a statement.
“If Republicans want to have a serious conversation about reforms that will improve our immigration system, we are open to a discussion. We disagree with many of the policies contained in the new Senate Republican border proposal,” he said. “Further, we do not see anything in their proposal about creating an earned path to citizenship for Dreamers and others. Congress should fund the President’s supplemental request to secure the border now.”
The White House and Senate Democrats introduced a proposal in 2021 that would have included broadened legal immigration pathways and, most controversially, included a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. Republicans rejected it. The most recent supplemental funding request calls for $14 billion for border operations – including money for migrant services and housing, anti-fentanyl technology and more border agents.
Democrats in the Senate similarly rejected the measures.
“They know full well that this is a total non-starter,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Making Ukraine funding conditional on hard-right border policies that can’t ever pass Congress is a huge mistake.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the framework was “not a good starting point – it is not consistent with American values and it would not secure our border.”
Some on the right were not happy with the proposals either, pointing to certain aspects of H.R. 2 that were left out, including restrictions on unaccompanied minors.
Lora Ries, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Border Security and Immigration Center, accused Republicans of taking a “tired, old, feckless approach of negotiating with themselves to produce an ineffective and weak border security proposal that would only be further weakened in negotiations.”
“The Biden Administration has set our border and immigration systems on fire. We face daily, real terror threats in our homeland because of Biden’s policies. Congress needs to act like it, get serious, and pass HR 2, in its entirety,” she said. “Congress also needs to direct ICE funding to find the terror threats in the U.S. and detain them, preemptively. Americans shouldn’t have to wait for a terrorist attack for Congress to act.”