Biden pledges to 'close the border' with 'strictest restrictions' in history if Congress approves immigration reform
"What is being negotiated would, if it became law, be the strictest and fairest reform package designed to secure the border we've ever had in our country," the President said in a statement published by the White House. "It would grant me, as President, extraordinary powers to close the border when it is overwhelmed. And if I receive these powers, I will use them the same day I sign the law," he declared.
The statement is the President's response to the protracted, ongoing weeks-long negotiations over the bill. The bill combines immigration reforms with over 100 billion dollars in aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. Even though Senate negotiators from both parties reported that the discussions were nearing completion, House Speaker Mike Johnson communicated to his fellow Congress members on Friday that the project was unlikely to pass the House, deeming the restrictions inadequate.
Pressure from Trump
Opposition from Johnson and other politicians from his party is partly due to pressure from former President Donald Trump, who, according to many Republican senators, is insisting on the “killing” of the bill. Trump's central campaign argument against President Biden is the crisis at the southern border. Consequently, the bill has been in the works for over a month and is now in question. Republicans in support of Ukraine have now started preparing a "plan B", which includes voting separately on the aid package for Kiev.
"For all those demanding stricter border controls: this is the method to achieve it. If you are serious about the border crisis, vote for the bipartisan bill, and I will sign it," President Biden wrote.
Tense Situation at the Border
In December last year, the southern US border saw a record number of detentions - over 300,000. Despite the situation improving in January, border services have long warned that the influx of migrants worldwide is overwhelming their resources.
The situation at the border is also causing escalating tension between Texas' Republican authorities and the federal administration. The Texas governor erected razor wire along the banks of the Rio Grande and deployed National Guard soldiers there, hindering federal CBP officers' access to the border. Even after the US Supreme Court authorized CBP to remove the wire, Texas authorities have defied this decision with near-universal support from Republican governors and top party politicians.