The House of Representatives passed legislation along party lines Thursday that would restart construction of the border wall and reinstate the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) asylum policy.
All voting Republicans except for two supported the Secure the Border Act, with all 211 voting Democrats opposing the legislation. GOP leadership negotiated with rank-and-file members over provisions dealing with seasonal labor and drug cartels up until passage. The legislation is not expected to pass the Senate, but it could jump-start negotiations in the upper chamber for a broader deal.
The Secure the Border Act directs the Biden administration to resume building parts of the border wall that were previously scheduled for building by the Trump administration. The Trump administration built 452 miles of wall along the southern border, while the Biden administration has been slow on its promise to fill some gaps. Biden overturned the emergency declaration that Trump relied on for border wall construction on his first day in office.
1) House approves bill to bolster border security
The vote: 219-213
The House hoped to pass this bill over the winter but the GOP struggled to find consensus. But they were able to pass the bill today to coincide with the end of Title 42.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) May 11, 2023
Biden also eliminated the MPP, which required asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their legal proceedings were being adjudicated. MPP formally ended in 2022, after Republican-led states lost a legal challenge that would have forced the Biden administration to maintain it. The legislation reinstates the policy. (RELATED: A Key Trump-Era Policy’s End Will Be The ‘Demise Of The US’ Immigration Courts, Experts Say)
The Biden administration will allow Title 42 to expire Thursday night, making passage of the border bill more urgent, Republican representatives argued. Federal agents are being deployed at the southern border ahead of an expected migration surge, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers are being instructed to release migrants already in custody to increase bed space in shelters.
“It’s the obvious advertisement shown to everybody around the world that it’s time to invade the southern border and come on across,” Georgia Rep. Mike Collins told the Daily Caller. “You can tell that by the tens of thousands of people lined up there and ready to go. We had 11,000 yesterday.”
GOP leadership made last-minute revisions to provisions dealing with E-Verify. Members representing agriculture-heavy districts worried the bill could cause worker shortages if the eligibility system were immediately made mandatory and applied to seasonal workers. Leadership promised members they would work to address the issue during negotiations with the Senate.
“What they committed to is that nothing would go to the president’s desk to be signed into law that didn’t have both the E-Verify provisions and reforms to the ag labor program,” Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse, a key moderate, said.