Home » Immigration talks in Congress lag as Latino lawmakers urge rejection of GOP proposals
Featured Immigration News policy

Immigration talks in Congress lag as Latino lawmakers urge rejection of GOP proposals

Negotiations over immigration policy made small progress Wednesday, but not enough to strike a deal and ease the passage of billions in global security aid before Congress leaves for a three-week recess.

Meanwhile, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said they are frustrated that some proposals under discussion would make major changes in immigration policy for the first time in years, yet no Latino senators are part of Senate talks.

A disagreement over border security policy has been the linchpin that has snagged a $110.5 billion emergency supplemental spending package to bolster aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and U.S. border security.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Democrats are still trying to reach an agreement in negotiations over policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, and that “real progress was made.”

He implored Republicans to stay in Congress through the holidays, but many GOP senators acknowledged that there is simply not enough time for an agreement, especially as both chambers are scheduled to leave this week. Work on the supplemental would be punted to next year absent a deal.

“The stakes are high,” Schumer, a New York Democrat, said. “Time is of the essence.”

Republican Whip Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said that negotiations about immigration are not far along and that “these are all concepts right now.”

“I think these things that the discussions that are happening with the White House right now are largely … in the concept phase,” he said.

Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance and Indiana Sen. Todd Young, both Republicans, said that Democrats have moved in the direction of the GOP somewhat in immigration policy negotiations, but not enough.

“I think now the White House’s got involved there’s at least some logjam that’s broken, but my sense is there’s still a lot of uncertainty,” Vance said.

Young said that the lead Republican on negotiations, Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, indicated that “there’s still some work to do before he can bring a proposal back” to Republicans.

“It sounds like, you know, there’s finally been some forward movement, so most of us are encouraged by that,” Young said.

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn suggested that it wouldn’t be a good idea for the Senate to pass the emergency supplemental and then have the House pick up the package in the new year.

“It’ll be a piñata out there,” he said. “People will take potshots for the next couple of weeks.”

Latino lawmakers speak out
In addition to a tight schedule, a coalition of Democratic Latino lawmakers expressed their frustration over some of the negotiations that they say would drastically change asylum law and mirror hard-line Trump immigration policies.

“We’re here to call on President Biden and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to reject the immigration and border proposals at the hands of Republicans in the ongoing negotiations around the supplemental aid package,” Congressional Hispanic Caucus Nanette Barragán of California said at a press conference outside the Capitol.

She added that the caucus has tried to have a meeting with the White House, and she expressed frustration that Senate “negotiations (are) taking place without a single Latino senator at the table.”

Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, both Latinos, said right-wing immigration approaches are being floated.

They include the resurrection of a pandemic-era tool used to expel migrants and bar them from claiming asylum known as Title 42, expedited removal proceedings and raising the bar for migrants to claim asylum by making changes to the “credible fear” standard.

“These would be the most far-sweeping, anti-immigrant and permanent changes to our law in a generation,” Menendez said.

Menendez stepped down as chair of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September amid federal indictment charges of conspiracy to commit bribery.

Luján added that the caucus has asked for a meeting with the White House’s chief of staff.

“Let’s sit down and talk and let’s find real solutions that are going to be meaningful for all of the challenges that are before us in the United States of America, while living up to our national security responsibilities,” he said.

The chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, said that the Senate and White House “must not agree to these extreme demands.”

She said the proposals being discussed would only create more chaos at the Southern border. Jayapal said the changes to the credible fear standard would “completely shut down the asylum system for people who are facing danger in their home countries.”

“These are hallmarks of Donald Trump and extreme MAGA Republicans,” she said. “They cannot tend not to become the hallmarks of the Biden administration and Democrats.”

Time running short
Several Senate Republicans acknowledged that even if there

was an agreement, there is not enough time to pass the emergency supplemental request in the House, despite the push from Democrats to approve critical aid to Ukraine.

The White House warned Wednesday that funding could run out within a month if Ukraine does not get aid.

The slow negotiations follow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to Capitol Hill Tuesday in an attempt to convince members of Congress, particularly Republicans, to approve about $50 billion in additional aid to his country amid a nearly two-year war with Russia.

But Republicans said national security demands major shifts in immigration policy at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Wyoming’s Sen. John Barrasso, the No. 3 Republican, said that Senate Republicans are “going to stand firm unless serious changes are made” on immigration policies at the Southern border.

The Biden administration in October asked Congress to approve more than $105 billion in emergency aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and U.S. border security.

Senate Democrats released a $110.5 billion spending package last week that would have provided funding for all four of those areas. But Republicans blocked the bill from moving forward, insisting the legislation include changes to immigration policy.

In the emergency supplemental, Senate Democrats included $1.42 billion for staff hires for immigration judges, such as clerks, attorneys and interpreters; $5.31 billion for U.S. Customs and Border Protection to expand border security, such as fentanyl detection; and $2.35 billion for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for operational costs, fentanyl detection and enforcement.

“I’m doing my job,” President Joe Biden wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Republicans on the Hill should do theirs.”

Republican Sen. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma said the Senate has to be “realistic” on whether a deal can be made, and he criticized the White House for not getting involved with negotiations sooner.

GOP Sen. Steve Daines of Montana said that it was “way too late” for the president to take part in talks. “He’s just very, very late to the party,” Daines said of Biden.

The Biden administration became involved in negotiations over the weekend, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas met Tuesday with a group of bipartisan senators tasked with striking a deal — Sens. Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, Lankford and Kyrsten Sinema, independent of Arizona.

Source: Missouriindependent