Talks continue, haltingly, in the U.S. Senate as Republicans demand legal changes tightening asylum and other migration pathways, in exchange for supporting a $106 billion emergency funding request for Ukraine, Israel, the border and other priorities. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said that negotiations between a small group of senators were “on ice.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who is not one of the negotiators, implied that the talks were more like blackmail terms than a search for a compromise: “This is not a traditional negotiation, where we expect to come up with a bipartisan compromise on the border. This is a price that has to be paid in order to get the supplemental.” The Democrats’ lead negotiator, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connectictut) replied, “Apparently I’ve wasted the last 3 weeks of my life since this was never a negotiation – just a take it or leave it demand. 🙃”

Semafor reported that Republicans triggered the current impasse in negotiations with a demand “to provide the president new authority to shut down the asylum system at will,” an authority similar to the pandemic-era Title 42 expulsions policy.

Some reports indicated that House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) would demand that the funding bill include all of H.R. 2: a draconian bill, passed by the House on a party-line vote in May, that would all but shut down asylum. Republican negotiator Sen. Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) denied this: Johnson will “get what we send him.”

Sen. Schumer intends to put the appropriation bill up for a “test vote” on Wednesday; it is very likey to fail amid opposition from the chamber’s 49 Republicans, who only need 41 votes to filibuster the bill, keeping it from coming to a final vote.

Mexico’s migration agency (National Migration Institute, INM) is running out of money for the year, and has suspended migrant deportations and other activities involving transport of personnel, the Associated Press reported. Mexican authorities encountered a record 588,626 migrants during the first 10 months of 2023.

While it considers the case, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has prohibited Border Patrol from reaching asylum seekers on U.S. soil by cutting through concertina wire that Texas police and National Guardsmen have laid along the Rio Grande. This temporarily reverses a November 29 district court decision allowing federal agents to cut the razor-sharp wire. Texas’s state government had filed suit in late October seeking to stop Border Patrol from cutting the wire.

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) voiced concern that large numbers of arriving asylum seekers could cause CBP to close other ports of entry in order to free up personnel to process migrants, as happened last week at the temporarily shuttered crossing in remote Lukeville. Hobbs did not rule out sending the state’s National Guard to the border, but is holding off for now.

Analyses and Feature Stories

The El Paso Times’ Lauren Villagrán visited Sololá, in Guatemala’s highlands, the home region of many of the 40 migrants who died in a horrific March 2023 fire in a Ciudad Juárez migrant detention facility.

“The average wait time for non-Mexicans is two months after making an account and requesting an appointment” with the CBP One app, a senior CBP official told Bloomberg. “For Mexicans, the wait time is currently a little over 3 months,” the official added, noting that Mexican citizens have daily limits to prevent them from crowding out other nationalities. This is curious, since the result is that Mexican asylum seekers are forced to wait in the same country where they face threats.