Immigration Texas

Texas Department of Public Safety officers guard an entrance to Shelby Park on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas. The Justice Department on Friday, Jan. 12, asked the Supreme Court to order Texas to stop blocking Border Patrol agents from a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border where large numbers of migrants have crossed in recent months, setting up another showdown between Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and the Biden administration over immigration enforcement. Sam Owens

A key Republican senator defended an emerging border security deal as a step toward potentially halting illegal immigration, defying persistent pressure by former President Donald Trump to abandon the plan.

“I’m looking forward to President Trump getting the opportunity to be able to read it, like everybody else is,” Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, the bill’s top Republican negotiator, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “This bill focuses on getting us to zero illegal crossings a day,” he said on Fox News Sunday.

The bill would tighten asylum access, increase U.S. Border Patrol agents and asylum officers, detain and deport more immigrants and restrict migrant releases into the U.S., Lankford said, in the most detailed summation a negotiator has provided to date.

With no agreed version of the plan published, House Republicans have slammed news reports that suggest it wouldn’t meet the full range of their demands to address what has also become an election-year challenge for President Joe Biden. The deadlock is also holding up Biden’s request for billions in emergency aid to U.S. allies such as Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Speaker Mike Johnson last week declared the Senate’s proposal “dead on arrival” in the House if “rumors” about about what it contains are true. Trump echoed previous posts on his social media platform and praised Johnson while campaigning for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination in Las Vegas on Saturday.

“I noticed a lot of the senators, a lot of the senators are trying to say — respectfully, they’re blaming it on me,” Trump told the crowd. “That’s OK. Please blame it on me. Please. Because they were getting ready to pass a very bad bill. I’d rather have no bill than a bad bill.”


Lankford didn’t provide specifics on when the bill text would be ready, though fellow Senate negotiators said last week it was close to complete.

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, the top Democratic negotiator, told CNN’s “State of the Union” he’s confident that enough Republicans in the chamber will join in to pass the legislation, “potentially as early as the next week or two.”

Some lawmakers have chafed at Trump’s effort to influence the border-security negotiations.

“He’s irrelevant to this conversation, he’s not in office, all right? ” Florida Senator Rick Scott said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And by the way, I talked to President Trump, he’s never asked me to be opposed to something.”

President Biden said Friday that the emerging deal, if passed, is the “toughest and fairest set of reforms” the U.S. has ever had and would give him emergency authority to “shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed.”

The action would look similar to the authority used during COVID-19 to oust asylum-seekers and other immigrants, called Title 42.d.

“And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law,” Biden said.

Republicans have criticized the latter, claiming the president could use his executive powers now to turn around the influx of immigrants from the border with Mexico.

Biden said this month that he would be open to major changes at the U.S.-Mexico border, including to asylum policies — a significant concern among progressive members of the party — if it meant finalizing a deal to unlock aid for Ukraine.

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