(The Center Square) – Many Republicans already are criticizing a border bill expected to be voted on in the U.S. Senate.
Former President Donald Trump blasted the proposed legislation Monday, and House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., called it “dead on arrival.”
More than 11 million illegal immigrants have come across the border into the U.S. since President Joe Biden first took office, more than the population of about 40 U.S. states.
“The ridiculous ‘Border’ Bill is nothing more than a highly sophisticated trap for Republicans to assume the blame on what the Radical Left Democrats have done to our Border, just in time for our most important EVER Election,” Trump wrote on TruthSocial before issuing a warning to Republicans: “Don’t fall for it!!!”
Trump went on to call the bill “a great gift to the Democrats, and a Death Wish for The Republican Party.”
A key problem at the southern border is an extraordinary number of asylum seekers as well as the practice of releasing migrants into the U.S. and telling them to return for court dates that are sometimes years in the future. Most do not return.
The bill is lengthy and technical and represented differently by both sides, but its backers say it would clamp down on the asylum process and allow the Department of Homeland Security to bar all asylum seekers if the border becomes overwhelmed. Republicans and Democrats have essentially already contradicted each other when discussing the contents of the bill. Another common theme is that Republicans say while the bill purports to solve one problem, it creates another by leaving loopholes that could be easily exploited.
Republicans see this as a major problem since they argue the laws needed to protect the border are already on the books, but that Biden has used administrative leeway to neglect enforcing them.
Democrats have argued that Republicans do not want to solve the border crisis now so they can use it as a political cudgel going into the November presidential election. Republicans say Democrats are attempting to pass a confusing bill that neutralizes the border crisis politically without actually solving the border crisis.
Biden has repeatedly called on Congress to pass a border bill and has generally backed the border deal.
Johnson shared a common point of criticism for the bill among Republicans: a provision requiring the Department of Homeland Security to close the border entirely if border agents have an average of 5,000 or more encounters in a week.
Many Republicans have said the border is already in crisis and needs to be shut down immediately.
“I’ve seen enough,” Johnson wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “This bill is even worse than we expected, and won’t come close to ending the border catastrophe the President has created. As the lead Democrat negotiator proclaimed: Under this legislation, ‘the border never closes.’”
The bill seems to have little chance of passing the Republican-controlled House in its current state, but it remains unclear if it can even make it out of the Senate.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., blasted the bill on X Monday, one of several Republican senators to use strong language against the bill.
“The bill codifies catch-and-release under so-called ‘alternatives to detention’ for any alien who says they *intend* to apply for asylum or another protection,” Cotton wrote. “The bill gives immediate work permits to everyone who says they want asylum, as long as they pass an initial screening by liberal bureaucrats. This will be a huge magnet for more illegal immigration.”
Notably, Cotton said the bill creates a backdoor path for the DHS Secretary authority to grant migrants’ asylum claims.
Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, criticized the legislation as well, saying online that “granting [DHS Secretary Alejandro] Mayorkas the ability to grant asylum claims without going through immigration court is perhaps the worst provision of the bill.”
Politics have been front and center of the debate, which is unsurprising since the bill comes during a presidential election year and border crisis as Trump appears determined to make the border key to his campaign.
“Only a fool, or a Radical Left Democrat, would vote for this horrendous Border Bill, which only gives Shutdown Authority after 5000 Encounters a day, when we already have the right to CLOSE THE BORDER NOW, which must be done,” Trump said. “It takes the HORRIBLE JOB the Democrats have done on Immigration and the Border, absolves them, and puts it all squarely on the shoulders of Republicans. Don’t be STUPID!!! We need a separate Border and Immigration Bill. It should not be tied to foreign aid in any way, shape, or form! The Democrats broke Immigration and the Border. They should fix it.”
Senate Republican leadership took fire for the legislation as well, with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, calling it a “disqualifying betrayal.” The internal angst within the party is notable since similar frustration in the House led to a mutiny that ousted former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
“Senate GOP leadership screwed this up – and screwed us,” Lee said on X late Sunday. “Even while refusing to let us see the bill they claimed to be negotiating on our behalf – for MONTHS – they were never in doubt, insisting we’d be dumb and even unpatriotic NOT to support it. This is a disqualifying betrayal.”