Joe Biden fell right into MAGA's immigration trap

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The new immigration deal is not a handout to Democrats. It’s a poison political pill in a consequential election year.

The deal, which some have called an objective “compromise that pairs increased border enforcement / asylum limits with legal channels,” is aimed at unlocking aid to Ukraine and Israel.

But there’s nothing objective about it.

Republicans staged the whole thing by holding aid to Ukraine and Israel in exchange for border security, only to repudiate the deal as soon as it was out over the weekend.

Border bill repackages Trump-era policies

President Joe Biden walks along the border wall with Customs and Border Protection agents during his visit to El Paso, Texas on Jan. 8, 2022. The president visited the border city prior to heading to the North American Summit in Mexico City.
President Joe Biden walks along the border wall with Customs and Border Protection agents during his visit to El Paso, Texas on Jan. 8, 2022. The president visited the border city prior to heading to the North American Summit in Mexico City.

The $20 billion immigration proposal would give the president emergency power to shut down asylum outside ports of entry, calls for the hiring of more than 4,300 asylum officers to speed up claims and sets higher standards to seek refuge.

It shuts down the border when daily illegal crossings top 5,000 migrants on average or 8,500 in a single day.

The closure would trigger expedited deportation. It provides up to 250,000 new visas for people seeking work in the U.S., or join family and it targets money laundering and fentanyl trafficking.

Yet Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson quickly declared the proposal “dead on arrival,” and some Democrats like Sen. Alex Padilla of California said the new deal is basically “a new version of a failed Trump-era immigration policy that will cause more chaos at the border, not less.”

In other words, Biden, who’s likely facing a rematch with Donald Trump, fell for the Republicans’ trap, which was to hold aid to force border talk.

Biden promised to help migrants, then reneges

Biden’s problem isn’t just the substance of the legislation, which he calls the “toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve had in decades,” but is one of broken promises that could haunt him all the way to the ballot box in November.

He promised immigration reform to legalize the millions of migrants already here. Instead, he turned his back on them. He promised to legalize the “Dreamers” but instead appears ready to leave those brought to the country illegally as children out in the cold.

He promised a “humane” and orderly migration. Instead, he’s ready to shut down the border — either because he can’t handle it or because he’s eager to give that up in exchange for money for Ukraine and Israel.

Sinema must fight Trump: To pass her border bill

Biden is now trapped in a web of MAGA lawmakers who want to capitalize on border chaos and those who want the president to make good on his immigration promise.

What’s Biden game, anyway?

Democrats are alienating ardent supporters

It’s hard to imagine how the president will get out of this mess. In the process, he’s dragging some Democrats with him, such as Arizona U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego.

“Arizona and its border communities have faced unprecedented challenges to manage the humanitarian and national security crises at our southern border,” Gallego said on X, formerly Twitter. “Now, Congress has a chance to act.”

Gallego is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat-turned-independent Kyrsten Sinema, who help broker this immigration deal. Whether she runs or not, she’s boasting about her work on it.

Gallego, a progressive Democrat, is appealing to a broader electorate by supporting this immigration deal. In doing so, he might be alienating his most ardent political base that propelled him to public office in the first place.

In the end, the border crisis and humanitarian catastrophe playing out at the U.S.-Mexico border is nothing more than a backdrop for America’s ugly political theater.

Elvia Díaz is editorial page editor for The Arizona Republic and azcentral. Reach her at 602-444-8606 or elvia.diaz@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter, @elviadiaz1

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Border bill is a poison pill for Biden, Democrats