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Sabotaging bipartisan immigration deal for 2024 campaign politicking is peak MAGA nihilism


Sabotaging bipartisan immigration deal for 2024 campaign politicking is peak MAGA nihilism

Feb 06, 2024 | 4:30 am ET
By David DeWitt
Sabotaging bipartisan immigration deal for 2024 campaign politicking is peak MAGA nihilism
Sec. of State Frank LaRose, left, and Bernie Moreno, right. (Photo courtesy WCMH-TV.)

The U.S. Senate is bringing forward this week the biggest bipartisan immigration deal and border crackdown this country has seen since Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, and Bernie Moreno, out of subservience to Trump, called it an “abomination” before the details of the deal were even released. This is not a serious person.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, competing with Moreno for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2024, on Monday laughably called the bill “really just mass-amnesty.” And instead of law passed by Congress, he’s been disturbingly calling for military use. Also not a serious person.

They’re part of an extremist, obstructionist right-wing PR campaign to try to make any bipartisan deal politically toxic and sink it.

The third Republican vying for the nomination to run against Democratic Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in November, state Sen. Matt Dolan, has railed about the issue of immigration, and despite pitching himself as “results-driven,” Dolan also came out against the deal on Monday, pitching instead the MAGA Republican House plan that has no chance of bipartisan agreement or becoming law.

The U.S. Senate on Sunday night released a $118.28 billion global security package that includes humanitarian aid in Gaza, and aid to Israel, Taiwan, and Ukraine, and a long-anticipated overhaul of immigration law negotiated by a bipartisan trio of senators.

The nearly 400-page package also includes sweeping bipartisan immigration legislation that would:

  • Raise the bar for migrants claiming asylum;
  • Clarify the White House’s use of parole authority to temporarily grant protections to migrants;
  • Create a procedure to shut down the border at particularly active times;
  • And end the practice of allowing migrants to live in the United States while they wait for their cases to be heard by an immigration judge.

Chief Republican negotiator U.S. Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma told NBC News, “It will be, by far, the most conservative border security bill in four decades.”

On Monday, Lankford said, “I’m frustrated when people put out intentionally false information. I expect more. There are policy disagreements on that, I get that… I get frustrated when people put out things that are intentionally false, that they know are false, because I expect more of Americans.”

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said last week the group was working to “finalize the most substantial border security policy in 30 years.”

Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said, “To my Republican friends: To get this kind of border security without granting a pathway to citizenship is really unheard of. So if you think you’re going to get a better deal next time, in ’25, if President Trump’s president, Democrats will be expecting a pathway to citizenship for that. So to my Republican colleagues, this is a historic moment to reform the border.”

Republican Senate Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota also relayed the stakes: That this is the best legislative deal lawmakers could expect, an opportunity unlikely to come again any time soon.

“The Democrats will not give us anything close to this if we have to get 60 votes in the United States Senate in a Republican majority,” Thune said. “We have a unique opportunity here. And the timing is right to do this.”

Meanwhile, the National Border Patrol Council representing more than 18,000 agents said the bill would “drop illegal border crossings nationwide and will allow our agents to get back to detecting and apprehending those who want to cross our border illegally and evade apprehension.”

So why did Republican U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson last week — again before the deal had even been released — say that it’s “dead on arrival” in the U.S. House?

Politics. The presumptive Republican nominee for president in 2024 wants to play political theater with the issue of immigration, and so he and his cadre of suck-ups and sycophants including Moreno and LaRose are doing everything they can to politically scuttle the bipartisan deal instead of making sure the serious, hard business of governance gets done.

They call it our No. 1 crisis. They call it an “invasion” (the “invading” force often being desperate families and children fleeing their home countries for their lives). But they don’t want Congress to do anything about it when Congress has the best shot to get something done in decades, because politics.

The package includes $20.23 billion to “address existing operational needs and expand capabilities at our nation’s borders, resource the new border policies included in the package, and help stop the flow of fentanyl and other narcotics,” according to a summary.

The legislation would give the secretary of Homeland Security the option to shut down the border if, during a period of seven consecutive days, there are more than 4,000 encounters recorded with migrants. If that number reaches 5,000 encounters for a period of seven consecutive days, the U.S. would be required to shut down the border.

The secretary of Homeland Security could remove that emergency authority in no later than 14 days, if there are seven consecutive days during which the number of migrant encounters that initially sparked that emergency authority goes down to 75% of encounter levels.

The American people in polls have major concerns about border security and immigration. Our entire system of government is set up to incentivize difficult deals and compromise to push legislation forward into becoming law, and that’s what this deal does: Everybody gets something they want; nobody gets everything they want.

Love it or hate it, that’s our system and that’s the difficult work of coalition-building and actually governing. But these politicians trying to sink the deal don’t want to govern; they want to play politics. And they think Americans are stupid enough to fall for it.

Sabotaging this bipartisan immigration deal and border crackdown for the benefit of 2024 campaign politicking is peak MAGA nihilism. No better deal with a better shot of passing will be coming forward.

If this opportunity is missed, the obstructionists own the problems at the border. It’s on their heads. And no amount of lies, fear-mongering, propaganda, or gaslighting about their absolute refusal to negotiate, can take that reality away.