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Following the Senate’s February 7 rejection of a spending bill with negotiated language limiting asylum access, the majority-Democratic Senate leadership introduced a new spending bill with no border or migration content at all, except for fentanyl-related provisions. The new bill contains just foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel, and other countries, without the earlier bill’s $20 billion in border spending and changes to immigration law.

This new bill cleared an initial hurdle on February 8 despite the objections of some Republicans holding out for tough border and migration language: by a 67-32 vote, senators cleared it for debate. (That’s the stage at which the earlier bill with the “border deal” language failed on February 7, by a 49-50 vote.)

This may not be the end of the story for border legislation, though. Democratic and Republican Senate leaders are negotiating Republican amendments that may be brought to the chamber’s floor during the next few days’ debate. (The Senate is postponing the beginning of a two-week recess and working through the weekend.)

Those amendments could include some or all of the Senate negotiators’ “border deal” language limiting asylum access; some or all of H.R. 2, a hardline bill thoroughly gutting asylum that passed the Republican-majority House of Representatives last May without a single Democratic vote; or some hybrid of the “border deal” and H.R. 2.

Those amendments would be unlikely to pass: as they are not germane to what is now a bill with no border or migration content, they would need 60 votes to win approval.

Putting off the start of a two-week recess, the Senate convenes at mid-day today and could vote on a “motion to proceed” after 7:00pm. Amid a confusing set of possible paths guided by arcane procedural maneuvers, senators might find themselves in a heated floor debate during Sunday’s Super Bowl.

As preliminary numbers show a 50 percent drop in migration along the U.S.-Mexico border, CBS News noted that Arizona and California now make up 60 percent of recent weeks’ Border Patrol apprehensions. In fiscal year 2023 those states made up 41 percent of Border Patrol apprehensions.

The conservative Daily Caller reported on Border Patrol agents’ February 6 apprehension of a migrant from Colombia who was identified as having terrorist ties because of prior membership in the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) paramilitary group, which collaborated with the country’s U.S.-backed military, disbanded in 2006, and was removed from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2014.

CBP does not report the nationalities of apprehended migrants who show up on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Terrorist Screening Data Set, but recent years’ increase coincides with growth in migration from Colombia, a country that has had five groups on the terrorist list this century, of which the largest two have long since demobilized.

Analyses and Feature Stories

“Many people in Ciudad Juárez and other parts of the border have reported waiting up to three months to receive an appointment through the [CBP One] application, while others receive it in a matter of days or weeks,” reported Verónica Martínez of the Ciudad Juárez-based La Verdad. Martínez’s feature documented many challenges that asylum seekers face while trying to use the app.

A Semafor analysis examined whether hardline Trump-era policies, especially “Remain in Mexico,” succeeded in reducing migration, as their backers claim. Arrivals of asylum seekers did fall in the months after June 2019, when Trump ramped up “Remain in Mexico,” but that makes it one of many attempted crackdowns on asylum-seeking migration over the past 10 years that had only short-term effects. Whether “Remain in Mexico” would have joined that list of policies with temporary effects is unknown, as the pandemic and Title 42 policy came nine months after June 2019, shutting the U.S. border.

“Right now, with the patience of the American public running thin, both Republicans and Democrats seem more interested in pursuing policies that will help them look tough on the border in an election year, rather than a comprehensive approach to fixing the problem,” read a “seven questions” explainer at Vox.

“In 1996 and 2006, Congress passed the last significant border and immigration bills to date. Both were hawkish messages to voters in election years, and both have become infamous for their unintended consequences,” wrote Rafael Bernal and Saul Elbein at The Hill.

At the Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein looked at Republican candidate Donald Trump’s plan to deploy National Guard soldiers from Republican-leaning states into Democratic-leaning states to carry out what Trump calls “the Largest Domestic Deportation Operation in History.”

Covering last weekend’s right-wing “convoy” rally near Eagle Pass, Texas, the New Yorker’s Rachel Monroe concluded that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) “insurrection-adjacent rhetoric seems to have breathed new energy into a movement that was thrown off by the events of January 6th.”

On the Right