Immigration legislation exposes House Republican rift

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An attempt by House Republicans to advance a border security bill earlier this week was scuttled after opposition from more moderate Republicans delayed not only a promise by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to a handful of lawmakers, but also a key campaign promise a Republican base eager for stricter immigration laws.

The bill introduced by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) and sponsored by 58 Republicans, would authorize the Homeland Security Secretary, currently Alejandro Mayor, to unilaterally ban all undocumented migrants from entering the United States through any port of entry. if the Secretary deems it necessary to restore “operational control” of the border. If immigration agencies cannot, for whatever reason, process undocumented migrants according to legal procedures, a similar response from the Secretary would be required. If the secretary doesn’t comply, the bill would give state attorneys general the power to sue the federal government.

But The three-page bill has angered dozens of House Republicans, many of whom fear it would prevent migrants and unaccompanied children fleeing violence from seeking asylum in the United States, a traditionally protected provision of the country’s immigration laws. Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Tex.), who represents the largest stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border of any lawmaker, is one of two Republicans who have taken the initiative to oppose the bill.

Republicans can only afford to lose four votes to pass any legislation through their razor-thin majority without Democratic help. The gap recently narrowed to three after Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) was injured in a fall last week, leaving it unclear when he could return to Washington.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) reviewed December Republicans intended to introduce “meaningful, ‘ready-made’ legislation,” including a border security bill, in the first two weeks after taking control of the House. McCarthy then went further, promising to speed up the bill as part of a “gentleman’s agreement” earlier this month that won a 21-term majority, including Roy, who prevented him from becoming speaker. Opposition from the moderates thwarted these plans.

“We cannot allow the Republican Party to be hijacked,” Gonzales said of his colleagues who pushed for the legislation. “Trying to ban legal asylum applications is, one, not Christian, and two, to me, it’s very un-American. So there’s a lot at stake.”

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In its current form, the bill will likely never pass the Democratic-controlled Senate. But the response exposed deep divisions over border security that continue to plague the party, even as Republicans across the spectrum have sharply criticized the Biden administration’s approach to the issue.

Rep. Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) and two other members of the Main Street Caucus, a group of self-described pragmatic Republicans, secured a commitment from McCarthy aides on Friday that the bill would be returned to the House Homeland Security Committee. According to Bacon, than being quick to the floor.

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“We’re confident that if it goes to committee, some of the areas we’re concerned about, like the asylum rules, will be fixed or improved,” he said.

Discuss what is proposed in the draft law

Some Republican lawmakers are focusing on measures to help border communities overwhelmed by migrants, while more conservative lawmakers have pushed to immediately halt the historic flow of migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border until the wall is built. The disagreements threaten the ability of House Republicans to fulfill campaign promises to pass legislation securing the border, which could also stop the flow of fentanyl into the US

Republicans highlighted the record number of people Crossing the U.S.-Mexico border as a contrast between them and the Biden administration, even threatening to impeach Mayorca and fighting for a pandemic-era border restriction that gives law enforcement discretion to immediately deport migrants, including asylum seekers, based on public health concerns.

But some House Republicans, particularly those who sat in Congress when previous immigration bills failed, have privately expressed skepticism that bipartisan immigration legislation could clear the House this Congress, blaming far-right lawmakers who have criticized many of the bipartisan efforts. as an amnesty offer.

Responding to criticism from his own party, Roy said the bill would require law enforcement to detain migrants seeking asylum but would not prevent migrants from doing so. He accused Gonzales of deliberately misrepresenting his bill, saying it would effectively ban asylum claims.

“No one is trying to ban asylum,” Roy said.

The immigration pivot shows that Biden is facing the hard realities of border politics

The Border Safety and Security Act, as written, specifies that DHS has the authority to “suspend the entry of any non-US national … for any period during which DHS is unable to detain such person or return the person to a foreign country.” While the GOP majority supports the need to crack down on illegal immigration and reform the asylum process, the scope of the bill suggests that whenever detention centers are overcrowded, the government could be required to immediately turn away any undocumented immigrant, including asylum seekers. from entering the United States from any port of entry.

In a letter to lawmakers Tuesday, obtained by The Washington Post, El Paso Bishop Mark J. Seitz, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ immigration committee, expressed concern and stressed that the bill “goes against the morals of our nation. principles”.

“If enacted, this legislation would eliminate access to protection for vulnerable persons on the move, including asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, victims of torture, and victims of human trafficking fleeing life-threatening situations,” Seitz wrote.

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Gonzales led the charge on Roy’s bill, which is also supported by a dozen other Texas Republicans, but noted that the asylum application could save unaccompanied children traveling to the United States, as well as Afghan and Ukrainian refugees. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.), who said she would also vote against the bill, and called it unrealistic to handle the immigration crisis with such a hard line, as it could negatively affect the discussion and implementation of legal immigration reforms.

“Are we stupid? come on This country was built on common sense. Look at Albert Einstein, we gave him a piece of paper to get in,” Salazar said, referring to the German-Jewish physicist who settled in the United States after Adolf Hitler came to power. “We are letting the modern-day Albert Einstein slide.”

McCarthy’s deal on the detentions during his speaker’s battle irked other Republicans, who said privately that many of the concessions were made without consulting the entire GOP conference. It allowed other factions outside the hard right to make leadership claims if necessary, given the narrow margin of majority.

In addition to the general concern about the proposal, several Republicans were upset and called for it the speaker blames the demand for the House to return to “regular order,” making sure every bill is done in committee, as well as trying to force leadership to let Roy’s bill skip that lengthy process.

“I think it’s going to be very difficult for people to support that.” [the bill]. It’s not a traditional arrangement to vet and fix in a way that all sides have a voice on the issue,” Rep. Nancy Mace (RS.C.) said in an interview. “If we only talk about border security, the Senate will never pass.”

Republicans could have sent the bill to the Rules Committee, which sets the parameters for the bill’s debate before it gets there. But that committee has yet to be formally established, given the delay in electing McCarthy as speaker. Several laws related to law enforcement were delayed earlier this month because they were not yet in committee to make minor changes.

Returning the bill to the Homeland Security Committee would allow it to be amended so that could allay the concerns of some Republicans. Many of the members who served on the committee last term were part of McCarthy’s task forces, which drew input from across the GOP’s ideological factions to create an immigration reform framework that aides said could serve as a model for reforming the bill.

Staunchly conservative House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who is one of the bill’s sponsors, said he was open to moderates proposing amendments to it.

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“Border security is national security” Perry said. “And if they want to explain to their constituents why they’re not interested in a secure border and a safer nation, then God bless them.”

Biden’s immigration plan would limit illegal border crossings

But Roy tried to woo Republicans concerned about the bill, saying he would not oppose the bill moving to the Homeland Security Committee rather than sending it directly to the courts — as long as Republicans don’t try to water it down. provisions.

“We’re not going to water it down with a bunch of exceptions that swallow the rule,” Roy said. “If these guys want to start making exceptions to the rule – the rule is a secure border – stop the flow.” [of migrants]allowing people to apply for asylum but having to be detained while the process takes place is an indisputable hill to die on because it won’t stop the flow.

Gonzales and Bacon also worry that passing tough bills like Roy’s could hurt House Republicans politically, especially in parts of the country where the party has made significant gains among Hispanic voters.

“If you want to lose the majority, do it this way,” Gonzales said.

In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Scalise said the House plans to put together a “package of bills to secure the border” to eventually send to the Senate. adds on Twitter. it would force the upper house “to write and say whether they are for open borders or for stopping the flow of deadly drugs and illegal immigration”.

Gonzales introduced the legislation along with three other Texas Republicans, including Rep. Monica De La Cruz, who is the only other one. Republicans who represents the Texas border district, would double funding for the Southern Border Grant Program, which helps strengthen border patrol and law enforcement.

Since entering Congress last term, Salazar, a Cuban-American, has made immigration reform her singular mission, most recently proposing a solution to the visa-challenged legal immigration process. The second part of her proposal, an updated version of which is expected in the spring, will consist of proposals often supported by Republicans and Democrats to help undocumented immigrants such as Dreamers and farmworkers gain citizenship and fund more border security.

Salazar said he plans to talk to his Freedom Caucus colleagues about how to help more people “come out of the shadows to work with dignity,” which will only help strengthen the U.S. economy, as it has done for decades.

“American exceptionalism, we’re the big elephant in the room, saving the room.” But to continue to be the saviors of the world … we have to fix the economy and fix immigration,” Salazar said. “Reality hits us in the face and we have to face it.


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