Senate Republicans say they want to add language to the government funding stopgap that would stop the Biden administration’s policy of releasing migrants after they’ve been detained for crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, but the idea is already running into Democratic opposition.
A group of Senate Republicans are rallying behind Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) demand that any government funding bill include policy changes that Republicans say would secure the border, specifically language requiring migrants detained while crossing the border to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims process.
“I’d like as close to H.R. 2 [the Secure the Border Act] as we can possibly get,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who participated in a meeting of Republican senators Thursday morning on adding border security language to the continuing resolution.
The House bill, the Secure the Border Act, would require the Department of Homeland Security to resume border wall construction, increase the number of border patrol agents and tighten asylum standards. It would also require the department to detain unlawful migrants or return them to Mexico or Canada.
McCarthy told reporters Thursday that he wants to establish a “remain in Mexico” policy and reestablish the pandemic-era Title 42 health emergency order that suspended migrants’ ability to stay in the United States to pursue asylum claims.
“Basically, I think, it boils down to ending catch and release,” Cornyn said. “That happens because there’s no reasonable detention of people while their asylum claims are being considered.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (Ill.), a leading Democratic voice on immigration reform, immediately dismissed Cornyn’s requested changes to the continuing resolution as “unrealistic.”
“I’m for immigration reform, and I’ve been that way for 10 years since we passed it on the [Senate] floor [in 2013.] This notion that we’re going to stick it into a measure that’s going to pass in 48 hours is unrealistic,” Durbin said.
The Senate advanced a stopgap funding bill Thursday, though it still has legislative hurdles to overcome. Government funding runs out Saturday.