Manchin wants to resurrect 2013 immigration bill that House killed

Dec. 29—As the crisis at the southern border continues, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said it may be time to revisit 2013 bipartisan legislation that he championed which could make the border more secure and manageable.

"We had 68 Democrats and Republicans who voted for it in the Senate and we sent it over to the House," Manchin said during a virtual press briefing last week of the 2013 bill. But the bill was then killed in the House.

"When that bill got killed and never saw the light of day in the House, that was when the Tea Party was coming into power and glory, the hardcore Republicans," he said. "They had just defeated Eric Cantor in Richmond with a Tea Party person and they attacked Cantor because he supported the immigration overhaul."

The $42 billion bill included 900 miles of strategically placed border wall and enhanced security at ports of entry. It also included a pathway forward for people who were here illegally.

Manchin said in an earlier interview that the bill would require anyone coming in illegally to pay a fine for crossing the border, be issued a number designation (similar to a Social Security number) and "get in the back of the line" to be processed to become a citizen.

In this process, they would be tracked to make sure they were meeting requirements and companies could only hire those who are registered.

"They would have to learn English, get a job and pay taxes or they would be exported," he said. "Anybody that had a criminal record would be gone immediately."

It is a plan that would work, he said, and members of both parties in the Senate supported it.

"But the hardcore right wants no pathway to citizenship at all," he said. "They looked at it as amnesty."

Last week, Manchin said the bill also protected DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), "these children who came over as babies and didn't even know how they got here, so it gave them a pathway to citizenship."

Border security was a top priority in the bill, he said, and "no one could be declared a citizen through the bill until the border was deemed secure. That is how important the security at the border is."

Manchin said that means not only a wall in places where they work but also making sure anyone who crosses and is apprehended would be processed through a port of entry.

"We need a good legal immigration policy for many reasons," he said, pointing out that ancestors of Americans were immigrants at one time or another. "But there has to be a port of entry. You just can't come anywhere you want to come. You have to be vetted..."

Manchin said he prefers immigrants be vetted in their own countries before they come, "and not after a 2,000-mile voyage to American, spending thousands of dollars and think, 'We are here now.'"

"We were trying to put some meat to it," he said of border security, policy and procedures. "But I've got to be honest with you. This administration has been slow on the draw, slow on the draw on this one. It has gotten out of hand."

But Manchin made it clear the border crisis has been "everybody's fault," going back to former presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

"All of them, and no one has ever fixed it," he said.

The 2013 bill could have provided the fix, and still can, he said, but opposition remains.

"I got Democrats who really don't want to do a whole lot as far as border security, but they know we have to do something about this horrific problem we have there. It is a crisis..." he said. "On the other hand, we have Republicans who don't want anybody coming no matter what."

Manchin said he does not know if an appetite is now in Washington to reconsider the bill.

"Today, it is still the best bill we have ever written (on effective management at the southern border)," he said. "If we could resurrect it and get some semblance of that, we would be better off. We thought we fixed it in 2013 but couldn't get is passed. We will see."

Both Manchin and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. have also been pushing for an extension of Title 42 to help ease the crisis.

Title 42 was put in place in 2020 by a recommendation from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) to stop the spread of COVID. It allows people seeking asylum to be rejected at the border with no vetting or processing.

Manchin and Capito both have said Title 42 should remain until some legislation is passed to provide a way to effectively handle those seeking asylum since the border continues to see a record number of immigrants apprehended.

if Title 42 ends, those numbers will rise, especially considering how little is done now to deter people from trying to cross the border, Capito said during a recent interview. "We see that this administration has done very little, and probably nothing, in deterring the flow," with over 9,000 a day now being apprehended.

Manchin and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, along with a bipartisan group of Congressmen, recently sent a letter to Pres. Joe Biden to find a way to extend the Title 42 order beyond what was then a Dec. 21 deadline.

"We have a crisis at our southern border," they said. "Never before in our nation's history have we experienced this scope and scale of illegal border crossings, and we remain concerned that your administration has not provided sufficient support or resources to the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) who are tasked with maintaining border security."

Last month, a federal judge ruled that Title 42 is illegal, prompting the Dec. 21 expiration date.

But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a 5 to 4 vote Tuesday that Title 42 will remain in place pending a hearing before the justices, which could mean several months before a ruling is made.

According to the federal Dept. of Homeland Security, more than 2 million illegal immigrants were arrested crossing the southern border during fiscal year 2021-22 (Oct. 1, 2021 to Sept. 30, 2022).

Of those 2 million, more than 1 million were expelled from the border and not allowed to apply for asylum under Title 42.

Since March 2020, the U.S. has carried out over 2.4 million migrant expulsions along its southern border under the policy.

— Contact Charles Boothe at

Contact Charles Boothe at