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Bipartisan Senate border bill would mandate expulsions if illegal immigrants exceed 5,000 daily

The $118 billion package includes provisions to reduce record-high crossings

Published: February 4, 2024 6:57pm

Updated: February 5, 2024 7:47am

The Senate on Sunday night released the text of its long-awaited border security bill.

The $118 billion package includes provisions to reduce record-high crossings at the southern U.S. border and tighten the country's asylum system, according to NBC News

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would like to vote on the package this week.

But as of Sunday evening, its fate in the Democrat-controlled upper chamber was unclear.

The legislation’s asylum reform would mandate the expulsion of illegal immigrants if the number of illegal border crossings reaches above 5,000 daily for a five-day average. If the number reaches 4,000, a president would have the option to invoke the expulsion authority.

That provision drew immediate howls in the House, where Republicans said it normalized a flow of illegal aliens.

“The Senate AMNESTY bill erases our borders,” Rep. Mary Miller, R-I’ll., said on X. “Every Senator took an oath to uphold our laws, including our border security & immigration laws. The Senators want to allow 5,000 illegal immigrants to walk across our border per day. NO! This is AMERICA LAST!”

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., one of the negotiators, insisted the provision is misunderstood.

“The emergency authority is not designed to let 5,000 people in, it is designed to close the border and turn 5,000 people around,” he said on X. “The Border Emergency Authority only lasts 3 yrs to force this Admin to shut down the border & to give time for the next POTUS to hire more agents & more officers. After three years, the emergency authority expires because we should have regained full control of our border by then.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson lamented this weekend about members of his chamber not being involved in the drafting of the bill and expressed no desire to bring it to a swift vote. 

The southern border has been overwhelmed by migrants, particularly from Central America, fleeing their homes to seek refuge. 

The bill also include a request for aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan that Republicans say they will support only if the larger measure includes significant and new immigration restrictions.

The chief negotiators on the measure were Lankford, R-Okla., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz.

If passed, the bill would include the most comprehensive border security and migration policy in decades, also according to NBC News.

“The Senate’s bipartisan agreement is a monumental step towards strengthening America’s national security abroad and along our borders,” said Schumer, a New York Democrat.

Passage of the bill will be especially challenging in a presidential election year.

House Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn., said after the bill was released that he and the speaker were reviewing it and that he would "vehemently oppose any agreement that legitimizes, normalizes any level of illegal immigration."

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