President Joe Biden would veto a House Republican bill whose aim is to restrict asylum, cut a program that allows migrants a chance to stay in the United States, and build more border walls, said the White House on Monday.
The GOP is looking to capitalize as trouble at the border surges into a national spotlight this week with the ending of Covid-19 restrictions that allow authorities on the border to return many migrants who crossed the border illegally rapidly.
Republican lawmakers aim to vote Thursday on their Secure the Border Act, the same day emergency expulsion powers expire. Border officials have seen an increase in migrants at the southern U.S. border with Mexico and are preparing for more.
The legislation signals the GOP’s first major immigration policy proposal since the presidency of former President Donald Trump. The 213-bill resurrects Trump policies. It faces strong headwinds from some Republicans who represent agricultural areas, and businesses verify the legal immigration status of employees. The legislation stands little chance of passing the Senate, held by Democrats. However, he would veto it if it were to move to the president’s desk.
The Biden administration consistently argues that Congress needs to take significant action on the border to fix its considerable problems that have led to record numbers of people illegally crossing the border. But, in the view of the White House, the bill isn’t the way to do it.
“While we welcome Congress’ engagement on meaningful steps to address immigration and the challenges at the border, this bill would make things worse, not better,” said the White House Office of Management and Budget. “Because this bill does very little to actually increase border security while doing a great deal to trample on the nation’s core values and international obligations, it should be rejected.”
In past decades, Congress has traditionally tackled overhauls to immigration law and border security by coupling more robust border-enforcement measures with policy changes that provide legal status and expand legal pathways for undocumented immigrants already in the United States.
Rep. Scalise: “Joe Biden sent a message that America’s border is open”
“Joe Biden sent a message that America’s border is open, and millions of people answered that call and started coming across our border illegally,” said GOP House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana at a news conference, adding, “We’re going to show the president how to solve the problem.”
The legislation would expand the building of the border wall, which was a significant focus of Trump.
The bill would also essentially choke off asylum, requiring that immigrants cross legally, pay a fee, and meet more strict requirements who show in initial interviews they are fleeing religious, racial, or political persecution.
A statement from the management and budget office said the GOP bill stands to “cut off nearly all access to humanitarian protections in ways that are inconsistent with our nation’s values and international obligations,” It would also cut funding.
In the meantime, in the Senate, Senators Kyrsten Sinema, an Independent from Arizona, and Thom Tills, a Republican from North Carolina, have proposed legislation that would allow federal officials to expel migrants for another two years quickly. The senators are also working on a Senate proposal to broaden legal immigration while increasing security at the border.
Republicans hope that the bill could serve to start negotiations with the Senate. Lawmakers began crafting the proposal last month. GOP Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, who has pushed for several years for immigration rule changes, said, “We have in the House, get the votes to pass a serious border security bill to make sure that this issue doesn’t just go away.”