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Senate to vote on standalone border bill within days, Schumer says

A group of three lawmakers hatched the plan earlier this year.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks to reporters following Democratic strategy session.
Posted at 10:53 AM, May 20, 2024

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed to get a "bipartisan" border bill through the chamber this week after previous attempts failed.

The previous proposal was negotiated between Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Arizona; James Lankford, R-Oklahoma; and Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut. The bill would include $7 billion in funding for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and give the government additional deportation power.

The legislation struggled to gain traction among Republicans even with Lankford's support. During March's State of the Union address, President Joe Biden urged Congress to pass the bill. Lankford was caught agreeing with the president, mouthing "that's true" when the president said that hiring 4,300 more asylum officers would reduce the backlog of immigration cases from six years to six months.

"This bipartisan border legislation would deliver the significant policy changes, resources, and personnel needed to secure our border and make our country safer," said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

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In a letter to Senate colleagues, Schumer blamed former President Donald Trump for sinking a border bill.

"The former president made clear he would rather preserve the issue for his campaign than solve the issue in a bipartisan fashion. On cue, many of our Republican colleagues abruptly reversed course on their prior support, announcing their new-found opposition to the bipartisan proposal," Schumer said on Sunday.

Lankford said last week that Democrats should avoid pushing a bill forward without bipartisan support.

"Press conferences take one person. Passing law takes 60," he said. "That means we have to sit down together to be able to talk this through. We have to be able to figure out how we're going to actually get something done and at least make some progress."

Both Republicans and Democrats have acknowledged struggles with the nation's immigration system. A rising number of migrants from Central America have attempted to enter the U.S. to claim asylum, which would give those immigrants potential legal status to stay in the U.S. until their claims are adjudicated.

According to Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, immigration courts have a backlog of 3,596,317 cases. Of those, 1,278,654 immigrants are awaiting asylum hearings.

The data indicates that courts are failing to keep up with cases. As of last month, 1,305,443 new cases had been filed in 2024, while 517,675 cases had been completed.