Team Biden tries to boost immigration legislation with border chaos

Migrant Asylum Ban
FILE – Migrants from Venezuela line up in the cold weather for hot drinks and food from volunteers at a makeshift camp on the U.S.-Mexico Border in Matamoros, Mexico, Dec. 23, 2022. The Supreme Court is keeping pandemic-era limits on people seeking asylum in place indefinitely, dashing hopes of immigration advocates who had been anticipating their end this week. The restrictions, often referred to as Title 42, were put in place under then-President Donald Trump at the beginning of the pandemic to curb the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File) Fernando Llano/AP

Team Biden tries to boost immigration legislation with border chaos

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With illegal immigration soaking up headlines as the calendar turns to 2023, President Joe Biden is aggressively promoting a nearly two-year-old reform bill as his primary solution.

Biden sent an immigration bill to Congress on his first day in office in January 2021, and though it went nowhere while Democrats controlled both chambers, the White House has been pushing it again with Republicans set to take over the House.

SOUTHERN BORDER COULD BE THE DEFINING ISSUE OF 2023 FOR BIDEN

“Today’s order gives Republicans in Congress plenty of time to move past political finger-pointing and join their Democratic colleagues in solving the challenge at our border by passing the comprehensive reform measures and delivering the additional funds for border security that President Biden has requested,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday.

The statement came in response to the Supreme Court’s keeping Title 42 in place for now, but Jean-Pierre has mentioned the legislation repeatedly in recent weeks.

“We have reached out. We’ve done outreach to Congress,” she said during a Dec. 19 press briefing. “We have asked them and put forth this piece of legislation.”

Both parties seem to agree that more needs to be done to secure the border, which has seen record crossings in each of the last two years, but they are at odds about how to approach it.

Republicans mostly praised the stay of Title 42, which will allow the Department of Homeland Security to continue turning back immigrants and potentially prevented a flood of asylum-seekers from crossing the border this week. But they, too, spoke of legislative fixes that will be needed as a long-term solution.

“SCOTUS’s temporary stay of Title 42 protections will forestall a surge of trafficking and drugs. Lives will be saved,” tweeted Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). “Yet as Democrats recently rejected my effort to remedy this situation legislatively, it falls to @POTUS to enforce the laws currently on the books.”

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) and Rep.-elect Nick LaLota (R-NY) echoed those sentiments, with LaLota adding, “If the Biden administration won’t act to keep Americans safe and support law enforcement, Congress must act.”

Biden’s bill was not successful during the last Congress and likely faces even longer odds under a divided government in 2023 and ’24.

A crucial point of contention is how to address people who illegally crossed the border years or even decades ago. Biden’s bill promises to provide “an opportunity to earn citizenship,” which conservatives decry as amnesty.

“The upcoming Congress must exclude amnesty of any type, mandate and appropriate resources for completion of the southern border wall system, and substantially reform the asylum system, by clarifying that an alien is ineligible for asylum in the U.S. if they traversed a safe third country,” wrote the Heritage Foundation’s Hannah Davis.

Progressives say it is the Republicans who are being unreasonable when it comes to immigration reform.

“At every turn, Republicans in Congress have blocked bipartisan, meaningful immigration reforms and billions in additional funding to improve border management, processing, and oversight,” CAP Action CEO Patrick Gaspard said this week. “They have spread false, racist, xenophobic narratives about vulnerable migrants seeking asylum while decrying the humanitarian effects of what they themselves have wrought in refusing to work across party lines to fix our decades-out-of-date immigration system.”

Gaspard praised the recently passed omnibus spending bill for increasing resources to combat the flow of illicit drugs across the border and called for the end of Title 42 in favor of permanent immigration reform.

Plenty of time is now available for the two sides to negotiate, as the Supreme Court decision keeps the current framework in place for six months. Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) has signaled he’s open to working across the aisle, with a spokesperson mentioning Biden’s reform efforts specifically.

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Biden is likely to continue pushing for the passage of his preferred legislation in the coming months, especially as immigration threatens to become one of the biggest issues he faces in 2023. But getting such reform through Congress will be difficult and would rank as one of the president’s most impressive bipartisan accomplishments if he were successful.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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