Developments

As expected, a Senate “test vote” failed, 49-51, on a $110.5 billion bill to fulfill the Biden administration’s request for additional 2024 money for Ukraine, Israel, the border, and other priorities. All 49 Republican senators voted “no,” along with Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who opposes military aid to Israel without conditions, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), who had to vote “no” for procedural reasons.

Schumer scheduled the vote partly to reinvigorate negotiations, which stalled last week, between a small group of senators. Republicans are demanding that the bill come with language clamping down on the right to seek asylum at the border, limiting the 1950s-era presidential authority to offer humanitarian parole to migrants, and other restrictions on immigration.

“I am willing to make significant compromises on the border,” President Joe Biden told reporters. “We need to fix the broken border system. It is broken.”

Changes that Democrats appear inclined to adopt include expanding the number of asylum seekers placed in expedited removal proceedings after being encountered at the border, and requiring them to meet a higher standard of “credible fear” in initial interviews with asylum officers, usually while in custody days after crossing the border.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), the party’s main negotiator on a potential deal with Republicans, told National Public Radio “right now there are far too many people crossing the border and being released into the country, many of them don’t have a legitimate claim of asylum,” but “I don’t think it’s in the best traditions of this country to deny people with legitimate claims of asylum access to the United States.”

Border Patrol reported “8,000+ apprehensions” of migrants border-wide on December 5. Reporters for CNN, CBS News, and Fox reported the actual number as one of the highest daily migrant apprehension totals ever: “10,300,” “10,200+,” “more than 10,000,” and “more than 12,000” when including port-of-entry encounters.

Panama has now counted 500,000 migrants passing through the Darién Gap in 2023, EFE reported. The previous full-year record for migration through this dangerous jungle region, set last year, was less than half that (248,284).

Analyses and Feature Stories

“‘There is a fundamental shift in the Democratic Party on immigration’ over the past six months,” Muzaffar Chishti of the Migration Policy Institute told the Associated Press. Democrats have stopped avoiding discussions of adjusting border policy: “Their backs don’t go up when they see someone saying we want to make some changes in the policies at the border.”

Of nearly 500 mostly Haitian unaccompanied migrant children whom the U.S. Coast Guard apprehended at sea, in the Caribbean or Florida Straits, between July 2021 and September 2023, all but 12 were sent back to their countries of origin. “It’s often unclear where they go once they return,” reported a ProPublica / New York Times investigation by Seth Freed Wessler.

On the Right