JIM SHARPE

Are Republicans blowing a border opportunity?

Feb 5, 2024, 1:00 PM | Updated: Feb 6, 2024, 1:36 pm

As 2023 drew to a close and President Joe Biden asked Congress for billions more to help Ukraine fight their Russian invaders, NBC News political analyst Chuck Todd told me, “Biden wants the Ukraine aide period.”

But is that how Republicans feel about a more secure border? Do they want one period?

It doesn’t feel like it.

Chuck told me a couple months ago that the failure to get Ukraine aid for Biden would negate a rationale for his presidency. It’s that important to him.

And it’s why he became willing to do anything to get it passed even tick off the far left wing of the Democratic party by agreeing to Republican demands that border funding be added to a national security bill which makes sense: Border security is national security, after all. 

As of Sunday night, that Republican wish was coming close to being within target range… and then the GOP appeared to shoot itself in the foot.

A bipartisan group of senators led, in part, by Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, had crafted a bill that provides $60 billion in Ukraine aid, $14 billion for Israel and $20 billion for the border.

But as Sen. Sinema told The Mike Broomhead Show, this bill is about more than money it includes a change in law that gives the president the power to immediately expel migrants if border agents and officers become overwhelmed by migrants.

“If 4,000 people come [to the border] every day for a week, the president can choose to shut down the border. But at 5,000, which is kind-of the number at which our system can’t process people quickly enough, then it mandates that we shut down the border entirely.”

The migrants who have been overwhelming the Arizona border are the ones intentionally getting picked up by Border Patrol because they know they’ll be almost instantly released. After claiming asylum and being given an order to appear in immigration court sometime in the (not kidding) 2030s, they are sent on their merry way. 

But under this bill, the government will have enough detention beds to be able to hold them long enough to do an asylum interview and quickly determine if they should be sent home right away or not.

It’s a way better system than this ridiculous “catch-and-release” method that’s been forced on Customs and Border Protection. This change would create a huge disincentive for migrants to even attempt to cross the border because many won’t get to stay in America (long enough to start a family and a career) awaiting their court date — a court date most will never attend because it could mean being deported. 

“This is the most substantial change to asylum and border policy in over four decades,” Sinema told Broomhead. “The impact on Arizona would be huge.” 

But instead of this bill leading to Republicans dancing in any available aisle, many are giving this bill the thumbs down.

What the…?

It’s because many Republican members of Congress are under the mistaken impression that they work for Donald Trump instead of us. And Trump can’t imagine a world in which Biden gets any credit for fixing the border in an election year.

So an opportunity to finally get most of Washington to agree to do the right thing for Arizona will be lost.

Great job guys. Politics has you so pretzel-twisted, you appear to be arguing with yourselves in the mirror.

Jim Sharpe

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)...

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Are Republicans blowing a border opportunity?