California Sen. Alex Padilla said the $118 billion bipartisan border and foreign aid bill backed by President Biden “misses the mark,” putting the Democratic senator in the unusual position of opposing a priority of the Democratic president as he campaigns for re-election.
“It is essential that we support our allies in their fight to defend democracy and provide humanitarian assistance, but not at the cost of dismantling our asylum system and ultimately failing to alleviate challenges at our border ” Padilla said in a statement on Sunday.
The bill, which amounts to a wish list of Republican Party immigration priorities, was negotiated by Democrats and Republicans over several months and is one of the most conservative programs to receive support from ‘a Democratic president for decades. Biden said Sunday he would sign it if Congress passes it.
Immigration and border control take political center stage as asylum seekers arrive in the United States in record numbers. Even Biden’s Democratic Party allies at the state level have begged him to act.
By agreeing to support such a conservative-leaning bill, Biden may be hoping he can partially neutralize the border as a political issue. Former President Trump used the crisis against Biden in their expected 2024 rematch.
The policies at play in the immigration debate could thwart the bipartisan deal as it faces opposition from both the right and the left. The legislation does not address citizenship for millions of people living in the country illegally, including farmworkers and people brought to the country as children, often called “Dreamers.”
It raises the threshold for admitting asylum seekers, limits presidential authority to parole people who enter from countries facing war or persecution, and implements a new expedited deportation process.
It also imposes border closures when apprehensions reach 5,000 per day. When this happens, anyone caught trying to enter the country will be immediately expelled without an asylum review. Asylum applications could still be submitted at ports of entry.
Padilla, who campaigned in 2022 on his desire to reform the immigration system, personally warned Biden in mid-December not to pander to the Republican Party on immigration in order to secure one-time relief. Ukraine, Israel and other US allies.
“The deal includes a new version of a failed Trump-era immigration policy that will cause more chaos at the border, not less. This is contrary to our international treaties and our obligations to provide people with the opportunity to seek asylum. It fails to address the root causes of migration. And it fails to provide relief to the Dreamers, farmworkers, and other longtime undocumented residents of our country who contribute billions to our economy, fill essential jobs, and make America stronger,” a- he declared in the press release.
Padilla, the son of Mexican immigrants whose story of achieving the American dream has been central to his political rise, joins other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus who say they haven’t had the chance to weigh in on the agreement.
“They are trying to enact sweeping legislation without the buy-in of the most important stakeholders: immigrant communities and those who represent them. Could you imagine a voting rights deal being made without the input from start to finish of the Congressional Black Caucus? Unimaginable!” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said in a statement.
California Sen. Laphonza Butler, also a Democrat, has not commented publicly on the bill.
The Senate is expected to take an initial vote on the bill Wednesday to determine whether the bill has a chance of reaching the 60-vote threshold for passage. Although supported by Senate Republican leaders, several Republican senators are already saying it doesn’t go far enough to gain their support.
Republican leaders in the House of Representatives are also lining up behind Trump’s opposition to the bill. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said Monday that the bill would be “dead on arrival” if it reached the House.
In an article published Sunday on Truth Social, Trump urged Republicans not to support the bill.
“This bill is a great gift to Democrats and a death wish to the Republican Party,” he said in his message.
Note: The content and images used in this article is rewritten and sourced from www.latimes.com