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US-MEXICO-BORDER

Trump: ‘No legislation needed’ to fix border

Republicans who oppose the Senate’s border security negotiations — including former President Donald Trump — are now arguing that a legislative fix for the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border isn’t necessary. But that hasn’t always been their position.

Speaker Mike Johnson is slamming the emerging Senate bill in part by contending that President Joe Biden should take executive actions that restore Trump-era policies, even though Johnson’s chamber passed a hardline border security bill that later served as his negotiating position.

Conservative GOP senators are embracing this argument too, a reversal of their previous position that the border is an issue that Congress must address through legislation. Take Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), for instance, who said on Fox that “we don’t need a border bill.” Prior to this, Cruz has long said Congress must act to close loopholes in immigration laws.

And just Monday, Trump wrote on Truth Social that “a border bill is not necessary to stop” the flow of migrants into the country, and said he “didn’t need a bill” while he was in office.

Yet during his presidency, Trump consistently asked Congress to pass border-security legislation and slammed what he called an “endemic abuse of the asylum system.” Trump said existing laws were “archaic” and “incompetent.”

Here’s more of what Trump said in 2018:

Looking ahead: None of the Senate proposal’s contents can be fully scrutinized because the text hasn’t been released yet. Senate leaders hope to release it this week.

Conservatives will undoubtedly argue that the bill doesn’t go far enough to secure the border. And Biden could, in theory, re-impose some of the Trump-era policies that he scrapped at the beginning of his presidency. (That’s probably not going to happen.)

But the GOP shift in messaging is notable as Republican hardliners insist that their opposition to the Senate proposal isn’t simply in service of Trump. It also comes on the heels of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s impassioned closed-door pleas for Republicans to embrace the border policy changes being negotiated with Democrats — regardless of how the politics may play out for Trump.

The GOP case in favor: The emerging agreement, proponents argue, would impose many of the same policy changes that Trump himself asked for, such as expedited removal and an asylum crackdown. And it would force a border closure if the number of illegal crossings get too high.

Many Senate Republicans see this as a major step in their party’s direction on border security and say it would be political malpractice to do nothing after spending months claiming it’s a national emergency. Plus, it allows Biden and red-state Democratic senators to argue that Republicans walked away from some of the strictest border restrictions in decades.

There’s no doubt that keeping the border issue alive through November is a boost to Trump. And those in favor of the bipartisan border proposal suspect that’s at least partially why he’s rejecting any movement toward a deal.

Yet McConnell and many others are making the case that Republicans have their best shot, maybe ever, to force Democrats to accept their border security demands — without having to agree to codify DACA or a pathway to citizenship in return.

Instead, the “price to pay” in this scenario is Ukraine funding — something McConnell and most Senate Republicans support anyway. When the “border for Ukraine” proposition was first raised last year, the hope was that attaching border restrictions would convince enough Republicans to back the overall supplemental funding package — or at least make it more politically palatable.

So far, that theory isn’t panning out, with many congressional Republicans deferring to Trump.

— Andrew Desiderio

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