Moderate Republicans could bail out Prez Biden out of the country's worst-ever immigration crisis

Washington, Jan 2 (IANS): US President Joe Biden is facing the worst immigration crisis in American history to date that could impact his electoral prospects in 2024 as Trump has made it a campaign issue, but moderate Republicans could bail him out with a new immigration deal in Congress.

President Joe Biden is staring down the worst immigration crisis in history of the US, a politically fraught situation that could have major ramifications on the 2024 general election, media reports said.

Biden is virtually scrambling for a deal with moderate Republicans in the Congress as he had vowed in his 2020 election campaign to "restore humanity and American values to our immigration system," but the overwhelming influx of illegal migrants from politically unstable regimes in northern and south America (Mexico and Venezuela) have undermined his presidency.

The Democrats can't do a volte-face on their open borders policy ahead of the 2024 elections and earn the ire of human rights and immigration activists, who have been stung by indications that Biden could revisit the Covid-19 immigration expulsion policy initiated by the then President Donald Trump, political observers said.

December saw the most-ever migrants encountered by border officials in a single day, 14,509 on December 18 alone.

Meanwhile, Fox News reported that, as of December 29, the US had recorded 276,000 migrant encounters for the final month of 2023, surpassing the record for most in a single month recorded in September 2023. CBS similarly reported on Sunday, New Year's Eve, that the total number of migrant encounters for December would surpass 300,000, according to internal government data obtained by the network.

If Republicans reach across the aisle to secure immigration policy reforms with the Democrats in larger national interests, it could shift the blame from Biden and saddle Republicans with additional baggage of the border crisis heading into 2024 should the reforms fail to reduce illegal immigration.

But Republican lawmakers indicated to the Washington Examiner that they are committed to reaching an immigration deal with the White House now that Biden is forced to come to the table, even if doing so could help him secure moderate or independent votes in November.

"There's a reason this hasn't been done in 30 years. Because it's incredibly technical and difficult, in legal language, but it's also politically difficult for Democrats who based their structure for a long time on open borders, and a large portion of their base is all about open borders, but that policy has created literally millions of people coming across unchecked," Senator James Lankford (Republican from Oklahoma), Republicans' lead border negotiator, told the Washington Examiner in December.

"This is not a political issue. It's a turn to Washington, D.C," he said.

The White House is farming out new strategies to ensure it is not an acknowledgment of a need to shift the President's overall immigration positions. Yet the President's possible concessions on the matter, which reportedly include a revisitation of the Trump administration's Covid-19 era expulsion policy, have drawn heavy criticism from immigration activists and members of the Democratic Party, observers said.

Hardliner Republicans and former President Donald Trump in particular, have escalated their rhetoric surrounding immigration to hurt Biden's chances at re-election. In recent weeks, Trump had claimed that migrants were "poisoning the blood of our country" and vowed to shift federal law enforcement and military assets to policing the border.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (Republican from Los Angeles) urged the President before Christmas to use executive authority "to stem the record tide of illegal immigration" and blamed Biden for the record spike in border encounters.

Johnson is leading a delegation of GOP lawmakers to the border on January 3 to meet with border officials and "discuss the failures of the Biden administration" to enforce border policy.

"America is experiencing the worst border crisis in our history, impacting every community in the country. While President Biden and Senate Democrats are asleep at the wheel, House Republicans will not cease in demanding transformative, immediate solutions to the madness," he said in a statement ahead of the trip.

A Republican Senator told the Washington Examiner that Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (Democrat from New York), and Democrats expect Republicans to "crumble on border security" in exchange for Ukraine aid but that "some of the most vocal voices so far for securing the border" are "prominent Ukraine hawks".

The matter was specifically raised during Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas's recent trip to Mexico, where they met with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and other Mexican officials to discuss northern migration.

Biden is also reportedly working to expand a programme that fast-tracks work permits for immigrants, who legally enter the country at ports of entry, according to USA Today.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services piloted the programme in Brownsville, Texas, and recently expanded it to El Paso and San Ysidro, California.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat who has harshly criticised Biden's immigration policies, praised the plan in September 2023.

"Let them work! Give them the opportunity to contribute to our society," he said.

"We're saying we must expedite work visas. It's just common sense. Thousands of jobs are available to be filled."

Republican states in the southern borders have transported bus loads of immigrants into New York City putting tremendous pressure on Adams to handle the humanitarian crisis out of depleting the city's treasuries.


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Title: Moderate Republicans could bail out Prez Biden out of the country's worst-ever immigration crisis

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