December 6, 2023
In exchange for supporting Ukraine aid, Republican legislators continue to demand reduced access to asylum and parole, among other border-hardening measures.
A classified Senate briefing about the need for Ukraine and other aid in the Biden administration’s $106 billion supplemental funding request reportedly got ugly: Republican senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) walked out early, after some screamed profanities in the presence of the secretaries of defense and state and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- Karoun Demirjian, Marc Santora, “Ukraine Aid Falters in Senate as Republicans Insist on Border Restrictions” (The New York Times, December 5, 2023).
- Al Weaver, Alexander Bolton, “Tempers Erupt at Classified Senate Briefing on Ukraine” (The Hill, December 5, 2023).
- “Lisa Desjardins @Lisadnews on Twitter” (Twitter, December 5, 2023).
The Senate’s Democratic majority introduced a funding bill, which may come up for consideration today, reflecting the Biden administration’s request and including no tightening of immigration laws. The 49-seat Republican minority needs just 41 votes to filibuster the bill—to prevent cloture of debate and a final vote—so the bill is likely to fail a cloture vote.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) sent a letter to the White House demanding “transformative change to our nation’s border security laws,” starting with H.R. 2, a bill that the House passed in May, without a single Democratic vote. As WOLA explained in November, H.R. 2 would almost completely curtail access to the U.S. asylum system at the U.S.-Mexico border. A chorus of Democratic Senate voices vehemently rejected including H.R. 2.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say H.R. 2 or nothing. And I’ve always smiled and said, House Republicans didn’t get a single Democrat on H.R. 2, and they’re asking us to get 20 on our side.OK, well, that’s not realistic,” acknowledged the lead Republican negotiator in Senate talks, Sen. James Lankford (Oklahoma). But Lankford’s side is seeking more concessions than higher standards for asylum-seekers’ initial credible fear interviews, something that some Democrats have said they are open to. According to the Wall Street Journal, Lankford mentioned “other options, including increasing detention bed space or adding a requirement that would allow the government to permanently send asylum seekers to third countries it deems safe for them.”
Arrivals of migrants in Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector (far west Texas and all of New Mexico) have fallen since Title 42’s end, dropping sharply in October. Border Report reported, however, that arrivals have started to pick up again.
Colombia arrested 24 people, including 5 active Navy personnel, for allegedly participating in a migrant-smuggling ring facilitating U.S.-bound transit.
Asked by Sean Hannity whether he would “be a dictator” if re-elected, ex-President Donald Trump replied, “No, no, no—other than Day 1. We’re closing the border. And we’re drilling, drilling, drilling. After that, I’m not a dictator.”
Analyses and Feature Stories
Tom Cartwright’s latest monthly ICE deportation flights monitoring report for Witness at the Border counted 140 removal flights in November, up 39 percent over November 2022, the 3rd-highest monthly total of the past 12 months. Top removal flight destinations last month were Guatemala (57 flights), Honduras (40), El Salvador (14), Colombia (5), and Ecuador (4). Three went to Venezuela and one to Cuba.
At America’s Voice, Gabe Ortiz reported on House Republican backlash against new CBP guidance for LGBT migrants in custody, which instructs agents “to avoid using specific pronouns until they have more information about the individual, as well as to refrain from using derogatory speech, including stereotypes and offensive language.”
The Cato Institute’s David Bier compiled data indicating that Border Patrol’s estimated “got-aways”—migrants believed to have avoided apprehension at the border—fell by half after the end of the Title 42 pandemic expulsions policy.
Mexico’s Milenio posits a link between a Sinaloa Cartel faction’s order to cease fentanyl trafficking and a modest recent drop in fentanyl seizures at the border.
On the Right
- Sen. Rick Scott (R-Florida), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), “Before Biden Gives One More Dime to Ukraine, He Must First Secure Our Border” (Fox News, December 6, 2023).
- Phillip Linderman, “Mayorkas Opens the Border Again, Now to Ecuadorians” (The American Conservative, December 6, 2023).
- Lora Ries, Victoria Coates, “Biden Wants Open Borders All the Way South to Guatemala” (The Heritage Foundation, December 5, 2023).
- Alberto Gonzales, “The Southern Border Crisis Has Reached a Breaking Point” (CNN, December 5, 2023).