Border Deals Agreed: US Senate Empowers New Restrictions to End Migrant Surge

Washington, D.C. – Senate negotiators have reached an agreement to grant the United States the authority to significantly limit the number of unauthorized migrant crossings at the southern border. This move aims to address the surge of migrants that has overwhelmed federal authorities in recent months.

President Joe Biden has pledged to utilize the powers provided by the deal, embracing measures that are more stringent than previously considered. This shift is significant given that many voters view Biden as weaker than former President Donald Trump in addressing immigration issues.

Expected to be unveiled next week, the Senate agreement also seeks to expedite the asylum process by deciding cases within six months. Currently, this process can take up to ten years for asylum seekers.

This development sheds light on the ongoing, high-stakes negotiations in the Senate. Leaders hope to attach the deal to aid packages for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, as both domestic and international crises loom. The proposal would also put pressure on Republicans to decide whether to support these new measures or reject them, as Trump has previously urged his party to only accept a “perfect” bill.

President Biden, in a rare statement on ongoing congressional negotiations, has praised the deal as tough and fair. He highlights that if passed into law, these reforms would be the most robust and equitable measures ever implemented to secure the border. Additionally, the legislation grants the President emergency authority to shut down the border in times of overwhelming influx. Biden emphasizes his commitment to utilizing this authority from the moment he signs the bill into law.

Under the forthcoming package, the Department of Homeland Security would gain new emergency powers to close the border if the daily average of migrant encounters reaches 4,000 over one week. If the number of crossings increases to an average of 5,000 per day in a given week, the DHS would be required to close the border to unauthorized migrants who are not entering through official ports of entry. However, certain migrants fleeing torture or persecution in their home countries would be allowed to remain.

Furthermore, if the number of crossings exceeds 8,500 in a single day, the DHS would be compelled to shut down the border to unauthorized migrants. Meanwhile, the proposal also includes a provision banning any migrant who attempts to cross the border twice while it is closed from entering the US for one year.

The goal of the trio of negotiators, consisting of GOP Senator James Lankford, Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema, and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, is to prevent surges that overwhelm federal authorities. The Biden administration and Senate leaders have been actively involved in these negotiations, and further details of the deal are expected to be released soon.

In December alone, there were over 300,000 encounters with migrants at the border. If this new legislation were already in effect, the border would currently be closed to unauthorized migrants. However, certain migrants would still have the opportunity to apply for asylum through legal ports of entry, with a minimum of 1,400 applications being processed during the implementation of emergency authorities.

The push to finalize this deal comes amid Trump’s appeals to Republicans to reject any immigration compromise while criticizing Biden’s handling of the border situation. However, several top Senate Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, recognize the urgency of addressing the issue given Democrats’ willingness to approve stricter restrictions.

Note: This article has been updated to include additional reporting.