Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona says lies are being spread about border enforcement bill

Feb 5, 2024, 12:21 PM | Updated: 1:58 pm

PHOENIX – U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona said Monday that misinformation is being spread about the comprehensive border enforcement bill she helped negotiate.

“The part that is most shocking to me is this lie about letting 5,000 people a day in the country,” Sinema told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.

Sinema said the bill has the potential to close the border during periods of high activity while making the asylum screening process faster and tougher. She likened it to the Title 42 pandemic-era border policy, “but with actual consequences.”

Sinema said it was “absolutely false” that the bill would allow 5,000 people per day into the country.

“What this portion of the law says is that if that many people try to come … and we run out of the capacity to immediately deport them, then we shut down the border entirely and don’t even let folks try,” she said.

When would border be closed under Senate proposal?

Sinema said the legislation actually would give the president the option to close the southern border when 4,000 people a day try to enter the U.S from Mexico. If the number reaches 5,000 people per day, it would trigger an automatic closure.

“Every single day this year we have had more than 4,000 people approaching our border — not necessarily entering the country, but approaching the border,” Sinema said. “So, if our law were in effect, this border would have been closed every single day this year.”

Details of the Senate bill, which is paired with a $118 billion wartime aid package for Israel and Ukraine, were released Sunday.

“This is the most substantial change to asylum and border policy in over four decades in our country, and the impact on Arizona would be huge,” said Sinema, an independent who crafted the bipartisan legislation along with Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut).

Sinema said the provisions about closing the border would go into effect immediately after the legislation is signed into law. But there are questions about whether the bill can even get a hearing in the House.

What are the border bill’s chances in House?

The Senate was expected this week to hold a key test vote on the legislation. However, Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican, said on social media within hours of the text being released that it would be “dead on arrival” if it reaches the House.

“As you know, the speaker statement came out last night very shortly after the bill came out,” Sinema said. “So I’m assuming he and his team are still going through the bill and learning about it. There continues to be a lot of misinformation and, frankly, lies that are running around about this legislation.”

Republicans have been reluctant to give Democratic President Joe Biden a political win on an issue they see as one of his biggest vulnerabilities and argue that presidents already have enough authority to curb illegal border crossings.

Regardless, Sinema is hoping the bill can garner enough support to pass through Congress.

“It is a national security crisis, and we can’t afford nine or ten more months of people complaining about it as we head into an election. What we really need to do is just solve the problem,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona says lies are being spread about border enforcement bill