By Tom Ozimek
Former President Donald Trump on Monday sharply criticized the new proposed Senate border deal as “horrendous,” objecting to a provision that gives border-shutdown authority only after an average of 4,000 to 5,000 encounters with illegal immigrants per day.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, on Sunday released the text of the Senate’s bipartisan $118 billion national security supplemental package.
The 370-page measure is being commonly referred to on Capitol Hill as the border deal, although it includes just $20 billion for border security, while providing about $60 billion for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel as the two countries remain embroiled in military conflicts.
In terms of the border, the bill would give federal officials the authority to expel illegal immigrants when certain thresholds are met.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would have the power to close the border to anyone without an appointment to seek asylum if the daily average of crossings reaches 4,000 over a seven-day period.
DHS would be required to close the border if the daily average of crossings hits 5,000 or if crossings exceed 8,500 on any single day.
‘Close The Border Now’
President Trump objected to the contents of bill, criticizing the thresholds for shutting the border.
“Only a fool, or a Radical Left Democrat, would vote for this horrendous Border Bill, which only gives Shutdown Authority after 5000 Encounters a day, when we already have the right to CLOSE THE BORDER NOW, which must be done,” the former president said in a Feb. 5 post on Truth Social.
The package also doesn’t include a restoration of President Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy, under which asylum-seekers were made to wait in Mexico for their U.S. court hearings. Many Republicans have said restoration of the program is a must.
In his message, the former president also advised against tying border matters to foreign aid, calling for a separate border and immigration bill.
He further argued that the deal absolves Democrats of the “horrible” job they’ve done on the border while putting responsibility for the border crisis on the shoulders of Republicans.
“This Bill is a great gift to the Democrats, and a Death Wish for The Republican Party,” President Trump said, adding in a follow-up post that the measure is “nothing more than a highly sophisticated trap for Republicans to assume the blame on what the Radical Left Democrats have done to our Border, just in time for our most important EVER Election.”
“Don’t fall for it,” he concluded.
Other border provisions in the bill include parole reform, such as closing loopholes in the humanitarian parole program for illegal immigrants, dubbed “catch and release,” by requiring the detention or supervision of all individuals processed at the border.
The bill would also raise the standard for seeking asylum and streamline the screening process in a bid to ensure that only legitimate asylum-seekers are admitted to the United States.
If passed, the bill would be the biggest border-related legislation in decades.
The border bill has been met with mixed reactions.
After the text of the bill was released, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called it “a monumental step towards strengthening America’s national security abroad and along our borders. This is one of the most necessary and important pieces of legislation Congress has put forward in years to ensure America’s future prosperity and security.”
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said after the text was released that the deal would be “dead on arrival” in the House of Representatives.
“This bill is even worse than we expected, and won’t come close to ending the border catastrophe the President has created. As the lead Democrat negotiator proclaimed: Under this legislation, ‘the border never closes,’” Mr. Johnson wrote on X.
“If this bill reaches the House, it will be dead on arrival,” he added.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a statement that was sharply critical of the Biden administration’s handling of the border crisis but that portrayed the deal in a positive light.
Mr. McConnell said the border deal includes “direct and immediate solutions to the crisis at our southern border,” adding the Senate “must carefully consider the opportunity in front of us and prepare to act.”
At the same time, the Republican leader blamed President Joe Biden for taking away “critical” tools such as the Trump-era Remain in Mexico program and for relaxing the “strong enforcement priorities” that U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement relied on to stem the tide of illegal immigration.
House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) called it “an absolute non-starter” that she said would “further incentivize thousands of illegals to pour in across our borders daily.”
Ms. Stefanik called for the restoration of Remain in Mexico and other Trump-era immigration policies instead.